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Local favourite and event sponsor Jock Armstrong will head away an 80 strong field from Threave Garden and Estate on Saturday (9th September) as the 44th Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally gets underway in Castle Douglas.

Organised by Solway, Machars and East Ayrshire Car Clubs, the highly regarded stage rally has attracted a top quality field from both the UK and Ireland to the region, as crews will tackle 44 miles of high-quality stages in the Galloway forests.

Sponsored by local construction and waste management solutions firm The Armstrong Group, the event is once again the final round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship which has ensured an impressive array of cars will contest the now traditional end of season bash.

Thanks also to a prestigious grant from Dumfries and Galloway Council Major Events Strategic Fund, the rally has appealed to a significant number of entries from across the Irish Sea which has ensured the event will boast one of its strongest entries for many years.

Starting as car one, eight-time event winner Jock Armstrong will be bidding to add to his already impressive tally as he leads the field away on Saturday morning with new co-driver Cameron Fair alongside in his familiar Subaru Impreza. Whilst the Scottish Championship title is now out of reach for the Castle Douglas pilot, Armstrong will undoubtedly want to ensure the winner’s trophy stays in the area this time around. But it won’t be easy.

Despite being a late entry with a start number to be confirmed, 2017 Scottish Rally Champions Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton will be looking to take one final win of the season in Castle Douglas. Beating Armstrong to the title, Thorburn has enjoyed an on-form season behind the wheel of his Fiesta R5 and without championship points to worry about, can enjoy the event without pressure.

Starting at number two seed, Oban’s Shaun Sinclair will be doing everything he can to take his first forestry win this season in his Impreza WRC. With four podiums in the Scottish Championship throughout the year, Sinclair and co-driver Jamie Edwards will use the event as a last ditch attempt to take the top spot.

Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy are another crew looking to take away their first win of 2017 at the Galloway Hills and will start at three in their Mitsubishi Evo IX with Rory Young and Allan Cathers bringing their Ford Fiesta R5 to Castle Douglas at four.

Dumfries ace Mark McCulloch rounds off the top five in his Mitsubishi Evo IX, co-driven by Michael Hendry. McCulloch always goes well on his “home” event and will be one to watch for overall honours on Saturday.

The much talked about entry from five-time Scottish Champion David Bogie emerged late last week with the news that the Dumfries driver would use his Ford Escort MK2 on the event. Sure to be a crowd pleasing favourite, Bogie could well be seen towards to top end of the leader board during the event. Kevin Rae will take up his usual co-drivers seat at car six.

Bruce McCombie and Daniel Forsyth start behind Bogie in their Mitsubishi Evo IX with Donnie MacDonald and Andrew Falconer at eight in their Ford Fiesta R5. Fred Milne returns to a Mitsubishi after an outing in a World Rally Car last time out in Aberdeen with Neil Shanks alongside at car nine.

Rounding off the top ten, Andrew Gallacher makes a welcome return to the sport with a rare ex-Mark Higgins Ford Focus WRC. The Hurlford driver hasn’t been out since this event last year but will undoubtedly wow the fans in the potent machine. Jane Nicol sits alongside.

Such is the strength of the entry; you have to look down at car 16 for the first of the Irish contingent to make the trip across to Castle Douglas. Brendan Cumiskey and Ronan O’Kane will debut their new Fiesta R5 on the event and will use the high-quality stages as a test bed for further outings.

Tommy O’Connell and Emmet Sherry, along with Paul McErlean and Niall McKenna also make the trip across the water and will start inside the top 30, both piloting Ford Escort MK2’s.

Organisers of this year’s event have ensured that there are plenty of opportunities to both catch the action and see the cars at close quarters.

Friday 8th September sees the event documentation and scrutiny get underway at locations across Castle Douglas from 4.00pm.

On Saturday 9th, the magnificent Threave Garden & Estate will play host to a rally for the very first time and provides a stunning back drop for the event ceremonial start and finish venue. Crews will be flagged away from the grounds at around 9.00am before heading out to tackle classic stages in the region.

Spectators can catch the action at a variety of spots in the Galloway forests. The Signright Graphix Black Loch stage provides fans with two chances to watch the field through, with runs at 10:18 and 12:53.

The Kirroughtree visitors centre in Wigtownshire offers the opportunity to see the cars and crews at close quarters for the service halt around midday before crews head back out for another loop of stages in the forests.

The Jas P Wilson Forest Machines Cairn Edward stage at 13:25 will be the final chance to see the cars in full flight before heading back to the Threave Garden & Estate ceremonial Finish and champagne spray just before 3.00pm.

Entry to Threave for the start and finish ceremonies will be free, and the popular Café inside Threave Visitor centre will be open all day, offering bacon rolls, lunches, drinks and cakes.

More information on the event, a full entry list and spectator information can be found at:

You can catch up with all the latest news from the event on its social media feeds:

Images courtesy of West Coast Photos

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