DUO Craig Wallace from Kirriemuir and Mark McCulloch from Newton Stewart returned to their roots to tackle the RSAC Scottish Rally recently
With so much effort required to concentrate on the Kick Energy, M Sport Fiesta Challenge and the British Rally Challenge the pair were delighted to come home for the RSAC Scottish Rally.
Based in Dumfries the event remains popular and with a substantial entry the whole team knew they were in for a tough challenge.
With preparations completed the night before, all was ready for the pair to put all their competitive effort into achieving a good result.
Craig said: “Being able to step into a car that you know has been well prepared by your service crew gives added confidence, we were looking forward to the event and I was particularly keen that the directors from my new sponsor Eco-Guard UK Ltd would be impressed with our set up.”
Leaving the start in Dumfries High Street they headed off for the first stage at Ae East, an amazing 14-mile opening stage and a tough challenge on any day – never mind the first stage.
A steady opening drive saw them set out their stall for the day although 30th after stage one was a little lower than intended but the Ae stages are not kind to two wheel drive cars. With the exception of a pair of M2 2 Escorts they were the second two-wheel-drive car – no mean feat when the entry list is reviewed.
Returning to Dumfries for a 20 minute service the crew had limited work to deal with and with no dramas they headed off to stage two which consisted of a short spectator stage at Heathhall.
Craig said: “This is a short stage of under a mile, but with a water splash and some big rocks you can easily finish your rally in full gaze of the public.
“There is no hiding place on this one.
“We had a good time and improved our overall standing to 26th, there were only fractions of seconds between us and the likes of John MacCrone, John Boyd and the super-fast Corsa of Alasdair Graham.”
Stage three consisted of nine miles through Twiglees and gave the pair another good run. A close battle with John Boyd in his R2 Fiesta gave the edge to competition with Craig and Mark finishing the stage a few seconds behind John but still with an overall classification of leading the two-wheel-drive cars and moving up to 25th overall.
Craig said: “The one thing about rallying is you never know what will happen next. So with our nearest competitors only seconds behind there was no time to relax.”
The next stage was six miles through Castle O’er and it was here the pair ran into a spot of difficulty when two miles in a rear puncture almost derailed all of their efforts.
Craig said: “It’s to be expected but you never want a puncture. The stage was only six miles so the quickest way is to keep going.
“We lost about 12 seconds over our competitors. It was harsh on the car and the service crew had a bit of work to do to the rear suspension at the intermediate service area which was fortunately only a few miles from the end of the stage.
“Although we dropped about ten places our efforts maintained our overall position of 25th overall.”
Returning once again to Heathhall for the second 20 minute service the crew checked everything thoroughly and with all well it was time to return to the spectator stage.
A slightly quicker time meant the pair were heading off to the final stage in 24th place and leading the two-wheel-drive classification.
The final fling of 14-miles through Ae West would be the decider with excitement of changing leaders in the fight for overall title between Armstrong, Bogie and Faulkner being played out in the four-wheel-drive cars just ahead it would take just as little to change the fortunes in the two-wheel-drive cars.
Craig said: “The puncture lost us a good bit of time, 10 seconds maybe sounds a lot but it isn’t.” “With Alasdair Graham in the Corsa only a few seconds behind, not to mention John MacCrone in the Civic and John Boyd in the R2 Fiesta chasing hard there would be no let up in our efforts.
“The slightest of errors or puncture at this stage would change the final result.”
At the end of the sixth and final stage they had held on to their lead and finished the event with more than a class win.
The final classification was: - 1st in Class Seven, 1st front-wheel-drive car, 1st two-wheel-drive car and 20th overall.
The pair were thrilled with the result especially given the high standard in the entry list.
Craig added: “Thanks to Eco-Guard UK for their support, the Glass and Paint protection certainly worked, the car was washed down post event in no time and it was still shining.”
The team are now preparing to take part in the Todds Leap Ulster Rally on August 19 and 20 at Antrim, Northern Ireland with Mark McCulloch in the Fiesta ST (British Rally Challenge and Kick Energy Fiesta ST Challenge).
Meanwhile Craig co-drove for Him Sharpe in his Subaru Impreza on the Crail stages last Saturday (July 1).