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With an historic fourth consecutive title safely secured, David Bogie has set himself a new challenge by contesting next weekend’s Colin McRae Stages in a Mk2 Ford Escort, while the battle for second in the MSA Scottish Rally Championship reaches its conclusion.

Euan Thorburn and Mike Faulkner will slug it out on the Aberfeldy-based rally – just as they did last year in appalling weather, when Thorburn won both the event, and the SRC runners-up spot, in his Mitsubishi EVO 9.

The pair finished tied in the points, but with the best six rounds from eight deciding the final points tally, the Borderer clinched it under “tie-break” rules.

Twelve months on, Faulkner has a twenty-one point lead going into the final round, but once dropped scores are taken into consideration, the odds favour the Duns-based driver.

As the season has progressed, Thorburn, co-driven by Paul Beaton, has grown in confidence at the wheel of his Ford Focus WRC with two wins, two seconds and a fifth-placed finish. The disappointments have been a non-finish on the last round, the Ian Broll Merrick Stages, and just a single point from the season-opening Snowman.

Faulkner and Peter Foy have been runner-up three times in their Mitsubishi EVO 6. They took the final podium spot on the Merrick; and have had two consecutive fourth-place finishes on the RSAC Scottish and the Speyside. Their lowest score so far was the five points gained on the Granite in April.

“Trying to keep our nose in front of Euan is the obvious goal this weekend in Perthshire, but it looks like being quite a tough task taking into account dropped scores. In reality Euan will have to have a problem”, said Faulkner: “We want to finish the season on a high and will be pushing for another good result. We both enjoy the McRae. There are some iconic stages that are rewarding to drive but can be very slippy if wet – and, given the weather so far this year, we can probably safely say it will be wet!”

Bogie, meanwhile, will enter uncharted territory at the wheel of a Mk2 – having retired his faithful EVO 9 at the conclusion of the Merrick Stages after securing his fourth Scottish crown – the first driver to win four in a row.

The Dumfries-based champion will be behind the wheel of Seamus O’Connell’s modified 2.4-litre Mk2, after travelling to Ireland this weekend to see the car.

“We had a good test run, but it’s all about finding traction”, said Bogie, whose only previous experience of a Mk2 was on the recent Rally Hebrides: “That was limited in that it was on very narrow tarmac roads, and there was no opportunity to slide the car. It’s a completely different driving style to anything I’ve been used to. I’ve no real expectations on the day – there’s no pressure. It’s just about getting out there and enjoying ourselves”.

Bogie, co-driven by fellow four-times champion Kevin Rae, has been seeded one ahead of the Mk2 of 2012 Class 8 winners Keith Robathan and Ian Nicoll. They will be followed off the start line by Malcolm Buchanan, who on last year’s McRae, powered his Escort to a superb fourth overall. This time out, the Isle of Lewis-based competitor will have Jim Howie on the notes.

Back amongst the 4WD entries, Barry Groundwater will want to end his season on a high after two retirements in a row in his EVO 9. The Stonehaven driver, co-driven by Neil Shanks, will be aiming for a podium spot, after notching up two thirds, along with a fifth and and a sixth place finish earlier in the year.

Donnie Macdonald starts fourth in his EVO 9 at the end of a mixed campaign, which has included two fourth-place finishes in the SRC, most recently on the Merrick alongside navigator Andrew Falconer.

Consistency has been the key for fifth seeds John McClory and David Hood – the pair having already secured the Class 10 championship in their Group N category Subaru Impreza N15, while Banchory’s Quintin Milne had a promising start to the year in his Mitsubishi EVO 9, but, since the third round, has failed to finish on three occasions, and was not entered for the Scottish in June.

Chris Collie starts seventh in Aberfeldy in his EVO. The Portlethen-based driver recorded his best ever SRC result on the Merrick – fifth overall – and is aiming to carry the form on to the McRae. His Alford-based navigator Lisa Watson leads the points in the SRC Lady Co-drivers’ championship.

Inverness duo Dougal Brown and Lewis Rochford, in an EVO 4, will be keeping an eye on the progress of Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll, who start three places behind them in their EVO 6. The two crews are fighting for second and third in the GpN championship, behind McLory and Hood. The Port William pair lifted the GpN trophy on last year’s McRae with a fine twelfth place finish.

Mark McCulloch returns to 4WD for the Perthshire event, having contested the past couple of rounds in a Peugeot 205 alongside navigator Elliot Edmondson. The Newton Stewart driver has entered the Subaru Impreza in which he was running as high as tenth overall on last year’s event, before a broken driveshaft put paid to his challenge on the penultimate stage.

The 4WD top ten is rounded off by Stephen Baillie and Ian Fraser, also in an Impreza: the Moray driver finishing tenth in the points on the Merrick.

Although a couple of championships have already been decided among the 2WD competitors (Classes 1-7) there is still unfinished business.

In Class 2, Dingwall’s Ross MacDonald trails fellow Vauxhall Corsa driver Alex Pirie from Keith by two points going into the final round.

Ayrshire son and father team Blair and Alex McCulloch have already made sure of Class 3 in their Vauxhall Nova, but are hoping to seal the Revolution Wheels and Morrison’s Trailer awards in the championship.

The 1600cc category is still to be decided. John Boyd and Chris Williamson have the upper hand with five victories in their Ford Fiesta this season, while Graeme Schoneville, with Michael Hendry on the notes, has doggedly stayed in the hunt, despite hitting problems on the last two rounds in his Honda Civic. Graeme Smith and Laura Marshall, also in a Civic, look safe in third place, after taking Class 4 honours on the Merrick.

Craig Rutherford from the Isle of Mull has already won the 2012 Scottish Junior Championship in his Honda Civic Type-R, and can wrap up the Class 7 title, alongside navigator Ross Hynd.

Saturday’s action will get underway with a ceremonial start in Blairgowrie. First away – from 0740 – will be crews contesting the MSA British Historic Championship. The SRC competitors follow on from 0825, with the 2WD classes at the head of field.

For news, updates and the latest points tally, go to

Colin McRae Stages – Top Ten Seeds with competition no:

2 Euan Thorburn (Duns)/Paul Beaton (Inverness) Ford Focus WRC
3 Mike Faulkner (Apatria)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi EVO 6
4 Barry Groundwater (Stonehaven)/Neil Shanks (Elgin) Mitsubishi EVO 9
5 Donnie Macdonald (Inverness)/Andrew Falconer (Culloden) Mitsubishi EVO 9
6 John McClory (Strathblane)/David Hood (Elderslie) Subaru Impreza N15
7 Quintin Milne (Banchory)/Martin Forrest (Aberdeen) Mitsubishi EVO 9
8 Chris Collie (Aberdeen)/Lisa Watson (Alford) Mitsubishi EVO
9 Dougal Brown (Inverness)/Lewis Rochford (Inverness) Mitsubishi EVO 4
10 Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart)/Elliot Edmondson (Olney) Subaru Impreza
11 Stephen Baillie (Kingston)/Ian Fraser (Aros) Subaru Impreza

Top Ten 2WD entries, with competition no:

26 David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Ford Escort Mk2
27 Keith Robathan (Alford)/Ian Nicoll (Forfar) Ford Escort Mk2
28 Malcolm Buchanan (Stornoway)/Jim Howie (Kilmarnock) Ford Escort Mk2
29 John Boyd (West Linton)/Chris Williamson (Glenrothes) Ford Fiesta R2
30 Graeme Schoneville (Carluke)/Michael Hendry (Archiestown) Honda Civic
31 Craig Rutherford (Isle of Mull)/Ross Hynd (Inverbervie) Honda Civic
32 Willie Stuart (Alford)/Neil Ewing (Largs) Talbot Sunbeam
33 Alasdair S Graham (Paisley)/Laura Stuart (Alford) Vauxhall Corsa
34 Andrew Gallacher(Kilmarnock)/Phil Sandham (Carnforth) Ford Escort Mk2
35 Blair McCulloch (Ayr)/Alex McCulloch (Ayr) Vauxhall Nova.

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