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Michael Binnie hauled his Mitsubishi Evo IX to a blistering RSAC Scottish Rally win on Saturday [23 July], beating a plethora of modern machinery to ensure his hopes of a KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship title remain firmly alive.

Co-driven by the experienced Claire Mole, Binnie stormed to fastest time on half of the event’s eight special stages in the Dumfries and Galloway forests, to seal a stellar 45 second win over the chasing Hugh Brunton in his Ford Fiesta R5, whilst David Henderson snatched a last-gasp podium with third in his Fiesta Rally2.

After being forced to run behind closed doors in 2021 due to the pandemic, the 76th running of the RSAC Scottish Rally welcomed a more traditional event as contenders in the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship, HRCR Northern Historic Gravel Championship and Army Land Rover Challenge lined up to do battle in the Castle O’er, Ae and Twiglees forest complexes.

Backed for the twenty-fifth time by Dumfries & Galloway Council, the popular rally once again formed part of the Council’s seven ‘signature events’ and would see the market town of Moffat playing host to the mid-point re-group and traditional finish celebrations.

But before crews could spray the champagne, 42 miles of flat-out action across iconic gravel roads lay in wait and it would be number one seed and seven-time rally winner Davie Bogie who set the pace in his new Ford Fiesta Rally2. Although tied with Henderson and co-driver Chris Lees for the fastest time over the opening stage, Bogie set his stall out early despite making his debut in the new car.

The Dumfries driver would sadly have to wait for his eighth win however, with two punctures and only one spare on the second stage, he and John Rowan were forced out ahead of the third test.

Despite Binnie being in much older specification machinery than the modern-day R5 and Rally2’s around him, it wasn’t long before he got up to speed, setting the scratch time over the second test to close in on then rally leaders Freddie Milne/Patrick Walsh who headed the pack after Castle O’er.

But Binnie fought back on the next to lead heading into the halfway point of the rally, albeit by just one second, with only three seconds covering the top three crews.

With nothing in it, the afternoon loop would prove crucial. A stall, half spin or puncture had the potential to shape the rally in any way possible. Milne exited the rally on the fourth stage with two punctures and subsequent damage, which left Binnie to knuckle down and get on with the job. He was never headed.

The Cornhill driver performed faultlessly during the day which saw a mix of conditions thanks to afternoon rainfall but was “surprised” to take the win against his punchy rivals. His victory puts him in the lead of the hotly contested Scottish Championship with three rounds remaining.

Behind was where the real drama unfolded. Hugh Brunton/Drew Sturrock went about their business with little fuss, taking their Fiesta R5 to the runner-up spot, despite Brunton only starting in the sport in 2019.

Henderson was arguably the nearest challenger for the win during the day, sitting second at the mid-point but suffered a puncture on the very next test and coupled with a spin, lost well over a minute and dropped to fifth. A ballsy drive saw him recover to third on the final test, overhauling Northern Ireland crew Joe Hegarty/David Turkington who would take fourth in their Fiesta R5.

Castle Douglas driver Angus Lawrie and Paul Gribben sealed fifth in their Mitsubishi Evo whilst Willie Patterson/Tom Hynd took sixth in their similar machine. Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson sealed the honour of behind the first two-wheel drive home, taking an encouraging tenth overall in their Ford Escort MK2 whilst Danny Hedges/Jake Pumphrey won the Land Rover battle, heading the Army Land Rover Challenge.

The RSAC Scottish Rally is understood to be the longest-running partnership between a rally and a local authority anywhere in Britain, with Dumfries and Galloway Council supporting nearly one-third of all the Scottish Rallies run since the first in 1932.

Previous winners of the event include World Rally Championship legends such Colin McRae, Ari Vatanen, Hannu Mikkola and Stig Blomqvist. Local driver David Bogie holds the record for most event wins, his tally stands at seven.

More information, spectator details and timings can be found on the official rally website:
http://www.scottishrally.co.uk

Keep up to date with event information via social media:
http://www.facebook.com/scottishrally and http://www.twitter.com/scottishrally

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