There was more to it than just ‘the luck of the Irish’, there was skill too, for there were two of them in the top ten at the end of the Grampian Forest Rally. Needing ‘seat time’ ahead of the next two rounds of the Irish Forest Rally Championship, America domiciled Barry McKenna brought his Ford Fiesta R5 to the north east and won it. He won it in style too, with 6 fastest times over the 6 Special Stages.
At the finish he said: “That was dead on. These stages are different, narrower than I was expecting but fast. It was a good shakedown ahead of the Lakeland Stages which I’m doing next.”
Jock Armstrong finished second and scored maximum points in the ARR Craib Scottish Championship: “After all the carnage last time out, we stuck the car back together. I can’t believe how well it ran today. We didn’t put a spanner on it.”
It was good to see Garry Pearson back behind the wheel too: “We were a bit cautious over the first two stages,” said Garry, “and the plan was just to get confidence back. It really started to click over the last two.”
Freddie Milne just lost out on third by 4 seconds: “We had a BIG moment on that last one. It was the last corner of the last stage and we hit a bump and the car reared up on two wheels. Friends who were spectating were sure we were going to roll – we didn’t!”
Current Scottish Championship points leader, Andrew Gallacher did his cause a power of good with 5th place and main title rival Donnie MacDonald two places behind him. “We didn’t have the best tyres for the day,” said Andrew, “but stuck with them over the last two just to make sure we didn’t get punctures.”
Bruce McCombie rounded off the top six just 7 seconds clear of MacDonald with Donnie wishing: “If only we had one more stage!” Also making his first visit to the north east, and seeking ‘seat time’ ahead of the Lakeland, was Ireland’s Niall Devine who finished 8th ahead of Michael Binnie and John Wink.
Barry Groundwater spun off, Lawrence Whyte spent over 2 minutes in a Durris ditch and Greg McKnight was forced out on the very last stage when the Escort’s clutch packed in.
Mat Smith won the 1600 class in his Fiesta from Ross Hughes in the Citroen with Angus Lawrie forced out when his new rear suspension broke and Finlay Retson didn’t finish either when his right front strut broke.
1, Barry McKenna, 41m 30s
2, Jock Armstrong, 42m 26s
3, Gary Pearson, 42m 41s
4, Freddie Milne, 42m 44s
5, Andrew Gallacher, 43m 31s
6, Bruce McCombie, 43m 37s
7, Donnie MacDonald, 43m 44s
8, Niall Devine, 44m 21s
9, Michael Binnie, 44m 21s
10, John Wink, 44m 34s