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Moray rally driver Dougal Brown returns to KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championships in his revamped Ford Escort Mk2 for his home event at the McDonald and Munro Speyside Stages


By Craig Christie

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DOUGAL Brown hopes his champion car will benefit from a major upgrade to drive him up the rankings at tomorrow’s McDonald and Munro Speyside Stages rally.

Dougal Brown has been working on a total revamp of his Ford Escort Mk2 over the past four years. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Dougal Brown has been working on a total revamp of his Ford Escort Mk2 over the past four years. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

The same Ford Escort Mk 2 that steered Brown and his brother-in-law, co-driver Lewis Rochford, from Keith, to victory in the Scottish 2WD championships in 2017 has taken on a major power surge.

Over the past four years, Forres-based Brown bought a new engine from a fellow competitor to give his trusted motor an extra 50 horsepower boost, and a whole host of other jobs have transformed the Escort.

“After getting the new engine I set about rebuilding the car but ended up doing a lot more than I planned,” he said.

“The car is a fair machine now compared to what it was previously. A lot of upgrades, suspension, engine and body work.

“This is us basically getting back into it feeling very rusty after having four years out of it.

“The engine is probably 50hp more than what we had last time and it feels like a monster compared to what I remember. For the last four years all I have been doing is driving boring diesel road cars so the performance difference is ridiculous.

"It has been on and off doing it for the last four years and this is us getting ready to do our first event in it.

Brown (38) had only just passed his own driving test when he first competed on the rally scene as a co-driver for a friend, aged 17.

He made the leap into the driver’s seat in 2008 and has competed in ten previous Speyside Stages, finishing as high as eighth in a Mitsubishi Evo IX eight years ago.

The event has been off the Scottish Rally Championships calendar for the past two years, wiped out by the pandemic.

Brown can’t wait to give it his first shot in five years, though he is not setting his sights on a spectacular return to the stages.

He had his first serious run in the revamped car at a sponsors day for the event held at Bin Forest, near Huntly.

First run on rally terrain for Dougal Brown and his spruced-up motor. Photo: Alan Scott Photography
First run on rally terrain for Dougal Brown and his spruced-up motor. Photo: Alan Scott Photography

He loves the rally’s unique town centre spectator stages at Elgin’s Cooper Park and is aiming to just complete the ten stages without a hitch.

“It can be nerve-wracking to drive, every second counts and you are straight in there,” he said.

“I always take a run out to Lossiemouth and back and try and warm the tyres a bit but then you are sitting in the holding area losing tyre temperature, before going straight into the Cooper Park.

Dougal Brown with his rejuvenated Ford Escort Mk2 which he will put to the test at the Speyside Stages. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Dougal Brown with his rejuvenated Ford Escort Mk2 which he will put to the test at the Speyside Stages. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

"I’ve good memories of doing it and I’ve noticed the difference from when we’ve warmed up our tyres versus some others who have went straight to the holding area, dead cold tyres. It definitely pays to do your prep.

“Every rally adds up to about 43 stage miles, some will be five or six stages but we have ten stages on Saturday.

“The average length is shorter but it feels like you are getting more, you have more stage starts and finishes and come out of every stage feeling that buzz – so you have ten buzzes throughout the day, that high feeling when you’ve finished a stage.

"From 2009 onwards to 2014 we did full championships every year and I had had some really good results in varied cars from 2WD to 4WD - and that's us now back in the 2WD.

Watch Dougal Brown in action below at the 2016 Speyside Stages alongside Calum MacLeod in the former version of his Escort Mk2.

“I’m definitely excited. I am not going out with any wild expectations. The key thing is to get finished, get back into it and not push too hard or take any risks.

"Itall about building up the confidence and then getting back on the pace.

“It’s been that long out of it that I need to get the experience again and just feel comfortable in the car, especially when it is more powerful and more of a handful.”



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