Elgin's 63 Car Club well represented as host club for return of McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages to the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championships calendar
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THE engines are running once again for the McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages rally.
Moray and Aberdeenshire's leg of the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championships returns on Saturday after a two-year Covid-19 interruption and an entry list of more than 100 crews.
Highlights from the last time the Speyside Stages were contested in 2019 - see below.
Heading the entry is five-time Scottish champion David Bogie, winner of the Speyside Stages an incredible nine times.
With Irishman Barney Mitchell in the hotseat the Dumfries driver will be out once again in the MINI JCW WRC along with Snowman Rally winners Michael Binnie and Claire Mole.
The event is organised by Elgin's 63 Car Club, who are well represented in the rally.
The club will be pinning some hopes on a high ranking for Huntly-based driver John Wink, whose regular co-driver Neil Shanks is clerk for the course at the Speyside Stages and can't compete in the rally.
Instead, Welshman Will Atkins will navigate in Wink's Hyundai i20 R5, car 7 in the rally.
Follow the action live on Facebook from 9am tomorrow.
Results will also be live throughout the day on Flying Finish.
In car 8 is Elgin co-driver Daniel Forsyth alongside Muir of Ord driver Scott Macbeth.
Banchory's Bruce and Scott McCombie also represent 63 Car Club in cars 5 and 11 as does Stonehaven's Chris Collie in car 22, while Aberlour's Michael Hendry again navigates for Dumfries driver Mark McCulloch in a Proton Satria Evo at car 10.
Speyside Stages veteran Dougal Brown returns in his upgraded Escort Mk2 with his brother-in-law Lewis Rochford (Keith) in the passenger's seat in car 24.
Winners of the Albyn Garage Challengers on their 4wd debut on the Snowman, Keir Beaton and Elgin-based navigator Iain Thorburn are back for another go in the ex-Graeme Sherry Impreza.
They’ll be resuming their battle with fellow Impreza crew Duncan Campbell and Michael Cruickshank, not to mention championship sponsor Kevin Crawford and reigning Subaru Cup champion Michael Renton with Elgin navigator John Shepheard.
In car 32, Keith driver Scott Mutch in accompanied by Mosstodloch's Greg McDonald in a Subaru GC8.
Another Elgin co-driver John Shepheard is in Tain's Michael Renton's Impreza.
Brian Ross (Elgin) takes his Escort MkII in at car 44 while Elgin pair Brett McKenzie and Jordan Little team up in an Impreza at 46.
More all-Elgin crews include regulars Mike Grant and Graham Kelman, and Darren McDonald and Sarah Young, both in Imprezas.
Moray veterans Sandy and Ian Arbuthnott venture out in their Focus 4WD and Cullen's Colin Patterson drives car 72 in an Escort Mk2.
Neil and Ian Philip's Impreza is car 82, Elgin driver Robert Tonge's MG ZR is car 89 and Huntly's Jack Ingleby heads out as number 90, one ahead of 63 Car Club crew Aileen and John Forrest, from Inverurie.
Of the rest of the field, Freddie Milne and Patrick Walsh were one of the hard luck stories from the Snowman. Leading going into the final stage, the car would mysteriously cut out for around 40 seconds dropping them to fourth at the finish.
A late car swap sees them out in a Buckley prepared Fiesta Rally2 rather than their own R5.
Reunited with their iconic Impreza, Jock Armstrong and Cammy Fair took second place at the Snowman despite some early brake problems.
An interesting name joining the SRC regulars is David Henderson with Chris Lees alongside in his Fiesta R5. Already rally winners on tarmac down south this year they are definitely a crew to watch out for, and it’s nice to see Lees back after the big accident he and Ian Forgan suffered on the Snowman.
The 5 Star Vehicle Deliveries Subaru Cup is heavily subscribed for the Speyside, Snowman winners Jordan Anderson and Clare McKenzie know they will have their work cut out for them with seven other crews on the entry list capable of winning.
In the Haddo Energy Super Seniors the four drivers from round 1 are back to do battle once again.
Round 1 was a close affair between Alistair Brearley and seniors creator Ernie Lee. It would have been a four-way fight if Jim McDowall hadn’t been delayed with a puncture and Jim Robertson’s engine hadn’t let him down. They’ll both be looking for a change in fortune for round 2.
The Moates Offshore Junior category was a battle between Justin Gunning and Robert Proudlock in Inverness. Both drivers are back for round 2 along with Civic pilot Peter Beaton who failed to finish the Snowman after clutch failure.
In the ladies battle reigning champion Ashleigh Morris opened her title defence with a win on the Snowman, the Fiesta R200 vastly improved after suspension upgrades over the winter.
Once again she has three other drivers to contend with, Aileen Forrest, Nikki Addison and Meghan O’Kane all ready to challenge for the ladies win.
Scrutineering will take place in Elgin High Street from 3pm today, with the first car due to leave the start line on the first of two runs in Cooper Park at 9:04 tomorrow.
Competitors then head east to tackle seven more forest stages, with a regroup in Huntly Square around 1pm giving an opportunity to see the cars and crews up close.