Dumfries driver David Bogie and his Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae sealed their third straight MSA Scottish Rally Championship with a fourth consecutive victory on Saturday’s Gleaner Oil & Gas Speyside Stages.
The winning partnership finished more than half a minute ahead of the field to cap a notable 2011 championship campaign with two rounds remaining.
Behind them, Duns ace Euan Thorburn was slugging it out with Lockerbie’s Mike Faulkner for the remaining podium places.
They had equal times on three of the eight Morayshire stages, but Thorburn, with co-driver Paul Beaton from Inverness, emerged as runner-up after Faulkner overshot on the final test.
Bogie and Rae were fastest through four of the stages in their Mitsubishi Evo 9 to finish 37 seconds ahead of Thorburn, also in an Evo 9, with Faulkner a further 14 seconds out in an Evo 6.
The Dumfries triple champion was clearly delighted – and relieved – as he and Rae sprayed the champagne at the finish in front of Elgin town hall.
“It’s just awesome,” he said. “I never thought too much about the championship. We just came here to win the rally, and all season I’ve never given it much thought. We just went to each round to do the best job we could.
“But to take the championship, well, it’s going to take time to sink in. It also makes things easier going to the next round of the British Championship, so that’s really good.”
Rae said he was “chuffed to bits” with the result: “Everything has gone so well on this event,” he added.
“They were great stages. We’ve been thoroughly enjoying our rallying all season and even with the pressure today it’s been enjoyable. Now we concentrate on the British.”
Behind Bogie and Rae, a battle royal developed between Thorburn and Faulkner.
They posted equal times behind Bogie on Gartly Moor, and again on the 8.5 miles of Balloch Wood, before sharing top honours – a second quicker than Bogie – on the penultimate test, Backstripes. Thorburn took top honours on the final test, two seconds quicker than the champion.
Thorburn said: “It’s been a really hard battle with Mike all day – I couldn’t believe how close it was. It was a shame the two of us couldn’t have carried it on until the end – it was a difficult last stage with all the chicanes. We came to win the event, but we’re pleased with second.”
Faulkner, with Hawick’s Louise Sutherland as co-driver in place of regular navigator Peter Foy, said: “When we got to the last stage we both had to go for it. The surface was really muddy and grassy and I was losing traction and tried to make it up on braking and ended up overshooting.
“I’ve had some close battles over the years, but three stage times on the trot with the same person is something special.”
In fourth place were Lanark’s Robbie Head and his Paxton co-driver Claire Mole in their Mitsubishi Evo 9.
In the two-wheel-drive category there was a surprise Class 3 – and Brick and Steel 205 Challenge win – for father and son Sean and Iain Robson from St Boswells in their Peugeot 205 Gti after the leading crew crashed out heavily on the penultimate stage.
Nick Thorne from Earlston, with co-driver Scott Hunter, was third in Class 3 in his Peugeot 205 Gti, and shares the lead in the 205 Challenge.
Gareth White of St Boswells and Gala co-driver Mike Dickson were 38th overall in their Citroen C2 R2 Max.
A broken drive shaft ended the hopes of Aberdeen’s Gordon Smith and Duns co-driver Dave O’Brien in their Ford Escort Cosworth while Richard Stewart from Dumfries and Kelso co-driver Carin Logan crashed their Subaru Impreza on the final stage.