THE final round of the 2011 Brick & Steel Ecosse Challenge – the Kingdom Stages Rally at Crail – produced one of the most nail-biting and tension-packed finishes ever seen last weekend, writes David Barlow.
It could not have been scripted.
After seven events on forest roads and military ranges, starting in Kielder Forest in March, it was all down to the old wartime bomber station at Crail for the battle of the 205 Ecosse Challenge crown to be settled.
Going head to head was the Hynd team – husband and wife Tom and Sue from Inverbervie – against the Robson team – Sean and David (no relation) from St Boswells and Jedburgh respectively.
And on this occasion it was a case of winner takes all. And boy, was it exciting.
Going into the second last of the six stages, team Robson held a comfortable advantage of 15 seconds over the Hynds, who seemed to have no answer to Sean’s speed.
But on that penultimate stage, Tom pulled every last ounce of power out of their Peugeot 205 GTi and had the crowd oohhing and aahhing at the angles the wee Pug got up to.
Their reward was a time that knocked 13 seconds off the Robsons’ time.
So the two crews entered the final stage with the Borderers two seconds in front of the Hynds.
And after eight hectic miles, it was Sean who was the master of the day, having gained two more seconds on Tom and winning the overall title – by just four seconds.
Both drivers were exhausted and emotional at the end. The Hynds had given it their best shot, but on the day young Sean and his crewmate were the men in charge. They won their class in the rally and the 2011 205 Ecosse Challenge crown.
This was a repeat of last year when Sean stole the victory from Duns’ Garry Pearson on the same rally but in different circumstances – Pearson’s car broke.
But this time Sean displayed just how good a driver and strong a person he has become by winning the crown the hard way – in hand-to-hand combat. And the Hynds showed just how sporting they are by being the first to congratulate and hug a very disoriented Sean as he climbed out of his car to spray the winner’s Champagne.
The win was also a credit and suitable reward for the astute decision of the Ecosse Rally Angels who decided back in January to throw their support behind Sean for the season.
The Civic Ecosse Challenge had been sealed on the penultimate round of the season in October when Graeme Smith’s challenge on Graeme Schoneville ended when Smith lost a wheel.
And on the final round at Crail, Graeme Schoneville and co-driver Michael Hendry were able to relax a bit, but still took a conclusive victory in the class. Coming in third in the Civics were Grant Inglis and Martin MacCabe. The valuable points scored meant that MacCabe won the Civic Ecosse Challenge co-driver’s class.
But the final glory must go to all three crews – Schoneville/Hendry; Robson/Robson; and Hynd/Hynd.
Out of 77 starters, they finished 11th, 12th and 13th in the rally which should have been dominated by more powerful turbo-charged four-wheel drive cars.
This was indeed a brilliant climax to a very exciting Brick & Steel challenge season.