August 5th, 2017
2017 Solway Coast: High Five for Mark
Dumfries driver Mark McCulloch became the only driver to win the www.UsedCarParts.co.uk Solway Coast Rally five times when he took his fifth consecutive victory on the Dundrennan based event this weekend.
Piloting the Hardie Engineering/Signright Graphix Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX he uses in the MSA Scottish Rally Championship, McCulloch and co-driver Michael Hendry from Archiestown, Moray took an early lead from 2012 winners David Hardie and John McCulloch (Dumfries/Newton Stewart) to lead by 25seconds at the midday Service halt.
The Penpont pairing of Greg McKnight and David Crosbie were a further 7 seconds back in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, with Lee Hastings (Collin), Stephen Thompson (Kirkcudbright) and Dalbeattie’s Iain Wilson completing the top 6.
The McCulloch/Hendry duo continued their dominance of the popular tarmac event held on the military ranges near Dundrennan, until a front near side puncture in the penultimate stage took away all but one of their 52 second lead. To Mark’s relief, a further fastest time the final stage sealed the victory by a mere 4 seconds from the hard-charging Stephen Thompson in second.
“A big thanks has to go to the organisers for a great event once again, the class of cars that are now entering the Solway coast is amazing it just shows how popular the event is becoming” said Mark. “Also to Michael for keeping me on the pace all day, to all our sponsors for making it happen and to the lads who help maintain and prepare the car, it was great to give a group of mates who just work away in their spare time this result, a real team effort!”
Kirkcudbright driver Stephen Thompson arranged a last-minute deal to hire a Dom Buckley RSC Ford Fiesta R5, in place of his usual Ford Escort Mk II which he piloted to a class win in 2016, which was only made possible by the support of long-term sponsor AMD Contract Services Ltd of Dumfries. With Larry Higton on the notes, their times improved over the eight stages, to take the runner-up spot by 20 seconds from Shaun Sinclair from Oban in a Subaru Impreza WRC. The Tom Boyd Memorial Award for first Solway Car Club Co-driver went to his co-driver, Jamie Edwards, who despite being from Wrexham, is a long-term member of the organising club and 2014 Motorsport Association ‘Club of the Year’.
David Hardie and John McCulloch had to settle for fourth, hampered by teething problems in their newly-built Hardie Engineering Subaru Impreza.
Lee Hastings from Collin finished in 5th, just ahead of 4x winner of the Solway Coast Rally Ian Paterson (Mouswald), and Dalbeattie driver Iain Wilson in the Jas P Wilson Subaru.
The two-wheel drive battle, current Scottish Tarmac Championship leaders Alan Kirkcaldy and Cameron Fair finished ahead of rally regular Steve Retchless from Northallerton, with Hamish Kinloch completing the all-Ford Escort Mk II podium.
Former winner Richard Dickson from New Abbey and Sanny Dobie retired their Subaru Impreza with driveshaft issues, while ex-Scottish Rally Champion Murray Grierson and his son Mark finished in 15th, just ahead of the Paterson brothers Stuart and Allan from Dumfries
Harry Marchbank from Thornhill took the 1600cc class victory while co-driving for Gareth White in a Peugeot 208 R2, just ahead of Angus Lawrie from Ringford in his Vauxhall Corsa.
Sundays competition saw two events running in tandem, with the usual ‘Solway Coast Junior Rally’ for drivers aged 14-17 being held alongside a new event, the ‘Solway Coast Historic Rally’. The event, which was a counter in the HRCR Mintex old STAGER Championship, attracted 18 competitors from the Mini Sport Mini Cup, and was won by Ray Cunningham and Jared Gill from Atherny, Co. Galway.
In the Junior rally, youngsters from the Scottish, English and Irish series met for the first time in a variety of 1000cc cars. Top seed Ewan Tindall and Paul Hudson (Ryton, Tyne and Wear) took the victory in a Citroen C1 by the slimmest of margins, beating the Scottish pairing of Jude MacDonald (Inverness) and Michael Cruickshank by just one second. Tom Llewellin of Haverfordwest completed the very cosmopolitan podium, almost 20 seconds further back.
The Dumfries pairing of Lewis Haining and George Myatt in a Toyota Aygo finished 3rd in the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge, and Alice Paterson from Collin with Ian Crosbie of Penpont alongside in her Peugeot 107 finished 6th. This was the first time this season that the three series have joined together, allowing the juniors from Scotland and Northern Ireland to pitch themselves against the best drivers from the sister series in England and Wales.
The popular event would not be possible without the generous sponsorship of Dumfries based DA Autoparts. The 2017 event marked the 37th consecutive year that the Stewart family have supported the event. The awards were presented by Carin Logan, representing www.UsedCarParts.co.uk
The organisers from Solway Car Club, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, wish to thank all marshals, radio operators, set-up crews, medics, rescue and recovery crews, MOD personnel and everyone else involved in making the event a success. Full results can be found on the club website, www.solwaycarclub.co.uk