Some of the best drivers in the UK will head to Moffat this Saturday to tackle the 74th running of the RSAC Scottish Rally (18th May) as over 80 crews are set to line up for the now traditional motorsport event.
The rally will form round three of the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship as well as being a qualifying round of the Border Challenge Rally Championship, the Northern Historic Rally Championship and the ever-impressive Armed Forces Land Rover Championship. It has attracted a quality entry of over 80 cars which will head into the Dumfries & Galloway forests for over 40 miles of flat out action during the weekend.
It will once again be supported by Dumfries & Galloway Council who head into their 24th consecutive year as sponsors. Whilst competitors will head into classic Scottish rallying tests during the day, they will be flagged away from the town of Moffat who will host the ceremonial start for the first time on Saturday morning before the lucky finishers will return to the town for the finish celebrations later in the day.
In a shift to the traditional running order, two-wheel drive crews will be the first to enjoy the stages in reverse seeded order, before the four-wheel-drive machines are let loose over the tests. This means the first car on the road will be Bryan and Scott Gourlay in their Peugeot 205, taking advantage of the prime road conditions in their 1600cc machine.
Steeped in history, the Scottish Rally has long been a symbol of stage rallying in the UK and is proud to be one of the longest-running motorsport events in the UK. Its place on the British Rallying calendar has seen world famous names such as Colin McRae, Ari Vatanen, Hannu Mikkola and Stig Blomqvist all lift the winners trophy in the past.
Legendary British driver Roger Clark currently holds the record for the most wins with six victories in the 1970’s. One man who has a chance to equal that record this year is Dumfries driver David Bogie who starts at car one in his Skoda Fabia R5.
With five wins and currently two on the trot, Bogie and co-driver John Rowan will take a break from their British Rally Championship campaign to contest Bogie’s home event and aim for a hat-trick of wins and a record-equalling result.
But behind Bogie, there is a top-quality entry all bidding to undo his hard work as they battle for Scottish Rally Championship supremacy. Winning every single rally contested so far in 2019 (that’s six if you’re counting) is Duns driver Euan Thorburn with Paul Beaton alongside. The Ford Focus WRC pilot is dovetailing a Scottish and BTRDA campaign this season and has been untouchable so far.
2011 Scottish Rally winner and multiple Scottish Champion Jock Armstrong will also be looking to bolster his championship aspirations in his Subaru Impreza with Cammy Fair in the co-driver’s seat. The Castle Douglas driver will aim to improve on his three podium placings on the rally.
Garry Pearson from Duns and Welsh co-driver Dale Bowen will also be ones to watch as the 2016 event winner is hoping for a turn of luck after a less than ideal start to his SRC season Pearson will be aiming for top honours in his Fiesta R5. But they will almost certainly have fellow Fiesta pilot Donnie MacDonald from Inverness breathing down their neck. MacDonald will be co-driven by Andrew Falconer.
Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts will bring their new Focus WRC to the Southern Scottish forests for the first time at car six whilst Freddie Milne and Patrick Walsh will also make their Scottish Rally debut in a new car, using a Fiesta R5 in replacement of his Mitsubishi.
Michael Binnie/Claire Mole bring their Mitsubishi Evo IX whilst John Wink gets a new co-driver for the rally in Neil Shanks, piloting his Hyundai i20 R5. Ian Bainbridge from Darlington will make the trip North with Mark Fisher in their Subaru Impreza and round out the top ten.
The two-wheel drive brigade will undoubtedly see an equally enthralling battle in the forests and is headed up by Iain Wilson/Chris Williams in their Ford Escort Mk2 and they lead a gaggle of the popular classic machine. Duncan MacDonald/Neil Ross make the trip down from Portree whilst Paul McErlean and Niall McKenna cross the Irish Sea to contest the rally.
Fans will be able to enjoy the event both on and off the stages with Moffat offering the first opportunity to catch the crews on Saturday morning from 09.00 as the rally starts in the main street. There will also be music throughout the day, classic and modified vehicles display and entertainment before the crews return at 16:00 for the finish celebrations.
Out in the forests, spectators can enjoy the action from dedicated, safe and entertaining viewing areas. The Castle O’er stage offers two chances to see the crews at 10:20 and 15:00 and can be accessed via the B723 between Lockerbie and Eskdalemuir. This stage offers a different perspective to previous years thanks to a reversal of the stage.
Alternatively, the Solway Print Ae stage will run at 12:40 and is accessed just North of Dumfries off the A701.
Full spectator information, entry list and more information can be found on the official rally website:
What they said…
Councillor Adam Wilson, the Council’s Events Champion
“Picturesque Moffat is the perfect location for the Scottish Rally, as it is so accessible to motorsport fans across the South of Scotland, the North of England and the Central Belt. The competition will be fierce in the forest stages and a lot more than just local pride is at stake. The lightning quick reflexes and skills of the drivers is awe inspiring and the organisers have planned some great areas where spectators can get close, in a safe environment, to all the action.”
Clerk of the Course, Jonathan Lord
“It is always a challenge to get a balance between tried and tested stages but also trying to bring something new to the event. We are pleased that we can get back into Ae forest this year which is a popular stage with both competitors and spectators alike. We believe we have the route and format just right this year and the stages are looking in great condition. We look forward to welcoming competitors from far and wide to Moffat in May.”
Publicity co-ordinator, Craig Webster
“Moffat has been the perfect backdrop to the finish of the rally for the past two years. The local Community Council has gone above and beyond in welcoming the event to the town with their encouragement and support, and we are delighted that 2019 will see the event both starting and finishing in the town centre. This means the event will have a presence in the town throughout the day and we’re looking to have activities and entertainment available for those spectators who don’t want to head out to the stages.”