Well, there was a wee bit of a kerfuffle at the Final Control in Castle Douglas, hence the delay with this report from the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally. The TV cameras and crews were there, the champagne was waiting, and that big ex-rugby chap off the telly was there with his sidekick Rhona. Jock was there, and Mike was there, but of David there was no sign.
Leading all the way to the end of the final stage, the orange Focus emerged from the trees and headed towards the main road. Then the big orange light on the dash came on. You know the one, the one that tells you this is going to be expensive, that one. David switched off immediately suspecting Thorburn-disease i.e. a broken crank.
"The engine was due a rebuild anyway," said David, "and we have noticed a wee bit of an oil loss over recent events so we've been keeping an eye on it. So it's not entirely unexpected."
That meant Armstrong won his home event and Faulkner moved up to second, only his third podium finish of the year. The biggest surprise was Shaun Sinclair's third, surprising even him: "I thought there might be a chance of top ten today," said Shaun, 2 years and 1 month after his last rally, "but to get this, it just proves there's life in the old dog yet."
Cursing under his breath was the fourth placed man, Barry Groundwater. "He beat me by only 2 seconds," said Barry, "but fair play to him he drove well." Donnie MacDonald was fifth and Andy Horne sixth - but only after he had shelled out for new tyres half way through. "Oddly enough my times got better after I put them on," said Andy.
Naturally Jock was delighted but not by the nature of the win: "We tied on the final Spectator Special and I took 11 off him on the final stage so I was happy with that," said Jock, "but then he hit his problem. He phoned me, but the signal was breaking up so we were all standing about in the rain at the Finish waiting for him to show up and he wasn't going to make it. It's a shame, but that's rallying."
Leaderboard after 7 (of 7) stages:
1, Armstrong, 47m 20s
2, Faulkner, 48m 45s
3, Sinclair, 49m 30s
4, Groundwater, 49m 32s
5, MacDonald, 49m 59s
6, Horne, 49m 31s
7, Gallacher, 50m 41s
8, McMiken, 51m 12s
9, McClory, 51m 26s
10, Brown, 51m 47s