and Barney Mitchell won the McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally
yesterday, but they had to come from behind to do it! David Henderson and Chris
Lees scorched into the lead over the two short spectator sourrounded tarmac
blasts around Cooper Park in Elgin. The tarmac rally specialist and ex racing
driver instantly at home despite unfamiliarity with his new Fiesta R5.
David & Barney
Into the forests and it was Jock Armstrong and Cameron Fair who stunned onlookers with a time 7 seconds quicker than top seeds David Bogie and Barney Mitchell. Bogie snatched a second back in SS4, then disaster struck in SS5. The MINI suffered a recurrence of its Snowman Rally problems stuttering to an almost-halt four times in the stage. Luckily Service was next.
The Subaru was outpaced over the final four stages but a clatter against a chicane in SS6 didn't help matters and Armstrong stayed second.
Snowman winners Michael Binnie and Claire Mole finished third but the Mitsubishi was at full stretch all day over the fast and furious Speyside roads but it had a rear vision mirror full of R5 breathing down its neck. A bit lost on the sandy surface of the first forest stage, Henderson was an awfy quick learner and his times just got better, and better. He finished just 4 seconds off the Mitsubishi's tail.
With a new car to learn, Freddie Milne and Patrick Walsh were a cautious fifth in the Fiesta R2 while Scott MacBeth and Daniel Forsyth proved there is life in the Lancers yet, rounding off the top six places.
Bruce McCombie and Michael Coutts had a troublefree run in the Focus to finish 7th and no-one could more pleased with 8th place than Mark McCulloch and Michael Hendry in the self-built Proton Satria Evo after a troublesome start to the year in Inverness. John Wink and Will Atkins had a better run in the Hyundai i20 R5 to finish 9th ahead of Angus Lawrie and Paul Gribben in their Evo9.
Scott Beattie was in the hunt for top honours early on till an 'off' with the Evo in Gartly very close to the scene of Garry Pearson's accident four years back and with big things expected of the Peugeot 208 on Speyside, it wasn't to be when Peter Stewart had to retire the car with a failed coil pack. Top 2WD was therefore the Ford Escort of Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson in 20th place overall - in a Pinto engined Mk2. A Pinto! Marvellous, eh?
There will be a one page report in next Thursday's 'Motorsport News' and that will be followed (as usual) by the world's most comprehensive Speyside report in JaggyBunnet's on-line mag by the weekend.