John MacCrone was widely tipped to win the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally and Garry Pearson was favourite to win the ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship title. It didn’t happen. This is rallying. Jock Armstrong beat them both.
With a title at stake, the pressure was on, but really, all Garry had to do was finish right behind Jock, and they could leave John to do what he liked. But ‘finish’ is the operative word here. Garry got off to a blinder of a start in the first stage, the Fiesta setting a time 10 seconds faster than the orange Subaru. John MacCrone was right there, but on the second stage, a wheel broke, pitching the Fiesta into a spin and ending up in a ditch facing the wrong way. One down.
Armstrong took time out of Pearson over the next three to snatch the rally lead back, but Garry was still there, doing just what he had to do. On the penultimate stage, Garry’s hopes and aspirations went up in smoke. The manifold split in the penultimate stage and the hot gases melted the plastic engine cover which then caught fire and burned the electrics. There was no major damage. The crew were safe and the car was fine, but it was going nowhere. Two down.
All Jock had to do now was finish and the title was his.
|A toast to TEG Sport|
“You couldn’t make it up, could you?” said Jock, “I remember being told at school that to finish first, first you had to finish. And that’s what I did today. I really fell for Garry, but I couldn’t believe it when I heard what happened.”
As for Garry, unlike some other top drivers who might have gone home in the huff, he made it to the finish to congratulate Jock and was amongst the first to congratulate the new Scottish champion.
Mike Faulkner finished second: “I just kept the old tyres on for the afternoon,” said Mike, “and just went for it. We were enjoying ourselves and I did just enough to keep Mark behind me.”
|Garry and Mike|
A bleary eyed Mark McCulloch was third: “After scrutineering last night, the car developed a misfire when we were putting it back on the trailer,” said Mark, “so it was back to the garage and we finally fixed it at 2.30 am, then it was back up at 6.30 am to get ready for the rally.”
And just when Bruce McCombie thought he was on for fourth place, he got pipped in the final stage by Greg McKnight, Greg taking 12 seconds out of him to snatch the place by 8 seconds. Andrew Gallacher was 6th in the ex-Carlos Sainz Ford Focus WRC with Quintin Milne 7th in the Escort Mk2. Andrew was struggling with left hand drive while Quintin was playing to the gallery: “Whenever I saw the crowds. I just set the car up and watch them all stepping back!” Wayne Sisson was 8th ahead of Seamus O’Connell and Michael Binnie rounding off the top ten.
(There will be a full report in Wednesday’s ‘Motorsport News’ and a more detailed report in the on-line mag after that.)
1, J Armstrong, 38m 39s
2, M Faulkner, 39m 36s
3, M McCulloch, 40m 07s
4, G McKnight, 40m 13s
5, B McCombie, 40m 21s
6, A Gallacher, 41m 22s
7, Q Milne, 41m 33s
8, W Sisson, 41m 36s
9, S O’Connell, 41m 37s
10, M Binnie, 41m 45s