McRae forest challenge set to test the best of the Borders

BORDERS crews will be battling it out for end-of-season honours in the final round of the MSA Scottish Rally Championship in Perthshire this weekend, writes Sandy Brydon.

More than 100 cars will line up for Saturday’s Colin McRae Forest Stages, which will start and finish in Aberfeldy.

Two points separate top seed Euan Thorburn from Duns and Lockerbie’s Mike Faulkner as the pair fight it out for the overall runners-up spot in the championship, which has already been won by David Bogie and Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae.

Thorburn had to settle for fourth on the last Merrick Stages round – which was won by Faulkner – after fighting his way back up the leaderboard following turbo-pipe problems on the opening stage which lost him more than a minute and a half.

The 24-year-old engineer, who will be co-driven by Paul Beaton from Inverness, is determined to come out on top this weekend.

“We’ve been close all season – with three second-place finishes and a third – so this is the final push to put a win on the board. We’re not thinking about the championship, only victory on the McRae,” said Thorburn.

In the two-wheel drive category, Hawick’s Louise Sutherland will again be on the notes for Yorkshire ace Steve Bannister – the pair fresh from a win in the Historic Cup at last weekend’s Rally Yorkshire.

However, Mike Horne and Robbie Mitchell from Duns will be one of a number of quick Mk2 crews aiming to keep the pressure on the leading pair through the Perthshire forests.

Gareth White from St Boswells and Galashiels’ Mike Dickson go into the McRae leading the fiercely-contested 1600 class in the drivers’ and co-drivers’ standings respectively.

Meanwhile, Sean Robson from Melrose will have top Borders’ co-driver Dave Robson alongside him.

The 20-year-old is still in the hunt for top honours in the Brick & Steel Ecosse 205 Challenge, having won the title in 2010.

Another up-and-coming young Borders driver, Garry Pearson from Duns, will have a reversal of roles when he navigates for Biggar’s Scott Erskine. Pearson wrapped up the RC1 class on last weekend’s BRC Challenge round in Yorkshire.