Tricky test for drivers on Border Counties rally

Dale Robertson on the Snowman Rally.
Dale Robertson on the Snowman Rally.
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The Borders will host the second round of the 2016 ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship when the series heads to Jedburgh for the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally this Saturday.

None of the event’s previous winners are contesting the 2016 rally so we are certain to see a new winner come Saturday afternoon.

2015 Champion Jock Armstrong heads to the Borders in confident mood to win an event that has thus far eluded him. In his title winning season, the Border Counties was the only rally he didn’t finish.

Donnie MacDonald finds himself as the championship leader for the first time in his SRC career, after winning his home event, the Snowman Rally, in February. Even if he doesn’t win another Scottish championship round, he insists that “this was the one for me.”

Despite the increased confidence a win may bring, MacDonald is not getting carried away and is retaining his aim of a top three on each event and in the championship.

Duns driver Dale Robertson has made a huge impression on his return to the SRC after a sabbatical in 2015. Remarkably he and Stuart Loudon came just seven seconds away from a maiden Scottish championship win on last month’s Snowman.

Dale said: “We hope was can finish in the top 5 at all events. We have to remember we are in a Group N car with a Group A turbo so it has to be driven on the door handles to keep up with the top lads!

“The stages are really nice with big ditches but we hope for some snow again to even it up against cars with more power. We will be trying hard.”

Another Duns driver Duns driver Garry Pearson got his season off to a strong start on the Snowman, with a fastest time on just his second stage with his new car on the way to fifth overall, as he continues to acclimatise to the Ford Fiesta R5 and four wheel drive machinery. However, he is realistic ahead of round 2 of the championship.

He said: “Our aim has to be to gain valuable miles to build on with four wheel drive on a loose surface. The Snowman conditions suited us for the first time out, but we need to keep our feet on the ground. Certainly the guys at the top are likely to be Jock Armstrong, Mike Faulkner, John MacCrone and Donnie MacDonald. If we can fit into this bracket it would be nice.”

Making his rally debut in the Border Counties is young Michael Binnie, son for former championship winning racing driver Cameron Binnie. Michael, from Tillmouth, will be driving a Mitsubishi Evo 5 belonging to his uncle, Gary Wilson from Duns, with generous backing from Adam Purves and Euan Gibson.

Michael made quite a name for himself in the world of karting and has now progressed to rallying and is definitely one to look out for. He will be co-driven by Greg Halfpenny.

Another following in their parents’ footsteps in Duns driver Gina Walker, daughter of former ladies world champion Louise Aitken Walker in a Citroen C2. Gina will have the experienced Richard Simmonds on the notes.

Other Borders crews taking part include: Ian Baumgart/Mike Dickson (Subaru Impreza), Carl and Robin Tuer (MG ZR S1600), Ian Watson/ Keith Atkinson (Mitsubishi Evo 9), James Gibb/Iain Robson (Ford Fiesta), David Martin/Claire Mole (Citroen C2), Peter and Douglas Humphrey (Opel Kadett), Ian Heard/Denny Calder (Ford Escort Mk 2), David Hunter/Amanda Morrison (Peugeot 205GTi).