2006 Scottish champion Dave Weston pipped current title-holders David Bogie and Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae by a single second to win Saturday’s CARS Recovery Granite City Rally in Aberdeen.
The result denied Bogie and Rae their third straight Scottish championship triumph of the season, and ended a remarkable run of eight successive victories in the SRC, stretching back to last year’s Granite.
However, the pair still lead the driver and co-driver points overall after three rounds.
In what was one of the closest-fought rallies in recent years, David Wilson of Alness and co-driver Dave Robson from Jedburgh took the final podium spot on a tie-break (faster through the first stage) after they finished with an identical total time to that of 2009 Granite winner Mike Faulkner.
Bogie and Rae were fastest out of the blocks in their Mitsubishi Evo 9 – and were seven seconds up on Weston at the end of the opening Fetteresso stage.
The Aberdeen-based driver hit back with two successive fastest times through the second and third stages in his hired Ford Focus WRC, and had a six-second lead over his young adversary going into the only service break of the day.
Bogie and Rae were quickest through the fourth, short, Blackhall stage – seven seconds ahead of Weston – which gave the defending champions a one-second advantage with two tests remaining.
As the rally reached its climax, it was nip and tuck between the two front runners: Weston two seconds quicker than Bogie on SS5 Durris, and the pair posting identical times for the fastest run through the final Fetteresso test.
Despite having to settle for second, Bogie was more than satisfied with his day’s work – although frustrated to have lost by such a slim margin: “We pushed on right to the end, and ultimately it was so close – just one second – sometimes it’s better to lose by 10, perhaps 15 seconds. But all credit to Dave – he drove very well, and we still lead the championship, so I’m happy.”
Robbie Head, with Claire Mole of Paxton navigating, picked up his second successive fifth-place finish, and was frustrated at what he perceived to be a lack of raw pace.
Sixth place overall went to Duns ace Euan Thorburn and co-driver Paul Beaton from Inverness. The duo never really recovered from a freak incident on the first stage when an overhanging branch struck the kill switch located on the outside of their Mitsubishi Evo 9 between the top of the bonnet and the windscreen.
Thorburn managed to get the car going thanks to help from some spectators, but admitted “it had been downhill from then on”, with a slow puncture on stage four, and a general lack of pace making for a difficult day. However, he did have the satisfaction of taking Group N honours.
Hawick-based Louise Sutherland, normally on the notes for Mk2 Escort maestro Steve Bannister, made the switch to four-wheel drive, helping Oban’s Shaun Sinclair mark his return to Scottish championship action with a ninth place overall, and first in the DMACK Tyres GpN rankings in a Mitsubishi Evo 9.
Of the 94 starters, there were 61 classified finishers.
Among the retirements was Peugeot 205 crew Sean and Iain Robson from Melrose, who were hit by clutch failure on the second stage, and Maxton’s Craig Smith who was forced to call it a day – also on the second test – in his Vauxhall Nova.
The fourth round of the Scottish Rally Championship is the Jim Clark Reivers Rally based in Duns on May 29.