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galloway16-armstrongThe ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) will go down to the wire this weekend as the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally plays host to the final-round battle for the title.

Organised by Solway, Machars and East Ayrshire Car Clubs, the Castle Douglas based event will see the fight between local hero and event sponsor Jock Armstrong and Duns resident Garry Pearson for the prestigious SRC honours. After five hard-fought rounds across Scotland, the two drivers are separated by just 10 points and the winner will be crowned champion at the finish ramp on Saturday (10th September).

Alongside the title fight, almost 90 crews from the UK and Ireland will compete on the popular rally and Pearson with co-driver Robbie Mitchell will lead the field away on Saturday morning in their Fiesta R5.  Pearson will head into battle with Castle Douglas resident and seven time event winner Jock Armstrong in his familiar orange Subaru Impreza who starts at number two with regular co-driver Paula Swinscoe.  Armstrong’s outstanding record on the event will undoubtedly be an advantage in the title race.

Whilst all eyes maybe on the top two seeds for SRC honours, last month’s Grampian Stages top points scorer John MacCrone (Dervaig) cannot be discounted for the rally win who starts at number three in his Ford Fiesta R5.  MacCrone will be joined for this event by Stuart Louden.

The rapid duo of Mike Faulkner (Wigton) and Peter Foy are number four in their Mitsubishi Evo IX and are still in search of their first rally win of the year. 2011 Galloway Hills Rally winner Mark McCulloch (Dumfries) and Michael Hendry are currently third in the SRC and will start the event at five in their Mitsubishi IX. McCulloch will head to Castle Douglas with a chance of a championship podium and will go head-to-head with Faulkner for the coveted spot.

Another Mitsubishi pilot Bruce McCombie (Banchory) hopes to be fighting for a podium on the event and will start at car six with co-driver Michael Coutts. Wayne Sisson makes the trip from Cumbria in his unique R4 Mitsubishi with Inverness co-driver Neil Shanks and will start at car seven.

There is an exciting prospect for rally fans at eight, with Andrew Gallacher (Hurlford) bringing an ex-Carlos Sainz Ford Focus WRC to the event. Partnered by Jane Nicol, Gallacher’s parents are both past winners of the rally and he will be doing his best to etch the family name on the winner’s trophy for a third time in the rare machine.

Greg McKnight (Thornhill) and co-driver Laura Marshall continue to adapt to four wheel drive machinery in their Mitsubishi IX at nine with Scott McCombie (Banchory) and Mark Fisher rounding off the top ten in their similar machine.

galloway16-garry-pearson-in-actionThe Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally has once again been awarded a prestigious £9000 grant from the Dumfries and Galloway Council Major Events Strategic Fund, which enabled organisers to offer free ferry crossings to crews from Ireland with event partners Stena Line.  This successful incentive in 2015 brought a significant number of competitors across the Irish Sea and this year has seen another bumper entry from Northern and Southern Ireland.

Heading the contingent from Ireland is Seamus O’Connell and Sean Magee who bring their potent Ford Escort MK2 to the event. They also lead away the two wheel contingent at 11th seed. Robin and Laura Phillips from Northern Ireland are another notable entry with a Subaru Impreza WRC.

Alongside regular Scottish Rally Championship contenders, the event will welcome competitors from the Ecosse Challenge, a single make series for the Citroen C2, The Five of Clubs Rally Championship, Border Challenge and Motoscope Northern Historic Rally Championship.

The event consists of six competitive stages located to the north-west of Castle Douglas and spectators will get plenty of opportunity to watch the drama unfold in the forests and the cars up at close quarters.  Rally HQ, pre event checks and Scrutiny will all be held in Castle Douglas on Friday 9th September and competitors will leave the start line in the town at 9.00am on Saturday 10th.

The R Earsman Ltd – Cairn Edward stage will kick off at 10.30am and offers two locations in which to watch the action with the cars returning at 13.20 for a second pass. Next up is the Jas P Wilson – Forest Machines Glengap stage at 11.00am and again at 14.00. The Molplant Ltd – Black Loch stage provides easy access for spectators and gets underway at 12.51.

There will also be a chance to see the cars in the Kirroughtree Visitor Centre service area at midday. Crews will arrive back at the ceremonial finish to spray the champagne at around 2.30pm in Castle Douglas.

For more information on the event, please visit http://www.gallowayhillsrally.co.uk

Follow the event live on social media via:
http://www.facebook.com/gallowayhills
http://www.twitter.com/gallowayhills

Photos courtesy of Frank Love – Race and Rally Photography.

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