Euan Thorburn Takes Third Scottish Rally Championship Title
12 August 2019 | Ravenol Marketing
Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton powered to their third KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) title with victory on the Grampian Forest Rally on Saturday.
Jock Armstrong and Kirsty Riddick were second in their Subaru Impreza, ahead of John Wink and Neil Shanks who took their first podium together in their Hyundai i20 R5 after a day-long battle with Bruce McCombie and Michael Coutts, which ended when McCombie rolled his Ford Focus WRC on the final Finglennie test.
Torrential rain and gusty winds threatened to plague the fifth round of the SRC, but in the end the only storm brewing was the fierce battle out on the special stages in the Kincardineshire forest.
Thorburn and Beaton headed into the event with three wins from four starts under their belts, but it was Armstrong and stand-in co-driver Riddick that set the pace on the opening two tests in their Subaru Impreza.
The pair opened up an impressive 11 second lead over their rivals, but that gap was overturned in the proceeding 10 miles of Drumtochty as Thorburn put the hammer down. The Duns driver powered his Ford Focus WRC05 to a 14 second stage victory to lead Armstrong by three seconds heading into service.
Despite driving with a championship in mind, Thorburn continued his pace into the afternoon and went on to scoop his third Scottish title. The fact he also won the rally by 27 seconds, his fourth SRC win and ninth across the 2019 season, just made the victory that bit sweeter.
“At the start of the year our aim was to win the championship but we didn’t think we’d get it with so many wins and a round to spare, so this is fantastic,” Thorburn beamed.
“Obviously the first championship is always special but to get three is a great achievement. After sitting out last year we hoped we’d challenge towards the end of the year, but we got off to a good start and it just snowballed from there so we couldn’t have asked for more.
“Everybody has played their part. Paul [Beaton] has done a brilliant job on the notes, Paul Benn has done an amazing job looking after the car it’s been reliable all year, it’s a real team effort.
“It was a funny situation today because we only had to finish in the top 10, but once the stages dried out a bit we got our finger out and managed to take the win.”
Armstrong was philosophical in second place, but was nonetheless delighted to have kept newly-crowned champion Thorburn honest on his first event since May’s RSAC Scottish Rally.
“It was a good run today, nice to be able to challenge Euan [Thorburn] this morning, and Kirsty did a great job standing in for Cammy [Fair],” Armstrong said.
“There are some fantastic stages up here, they’re some of the best to rally on anywhere, and it’s so easy on the car as well so we thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Wink and Shanks were similarly delighted to have grabbed a podium finish after a trying Argyll Rally in June. The pair’s battle with McCombie and Coutts had been fierce, with just four seconds separating them heading into the final stage. Both drivers pushed to the maximum with a spin delaying Wink, but ultimately McCombie paid the bigger price after rolling out of the event.
“It was a great battle with Bruce [McCombie] and all the others all day, we were pushing very hard,” Wink reflected.
“Bruce was probably quicker than us all day so it’s a shame to see him go, but that’s what happens when you’ve got two guys both fighting so hard for a podium place.
“It’s a dream come true to get a podium on the Grampian in front of all our friends and our business supporters. It was a challenging event but that’s what makes a rally so enjoyable.”
Michael Binnie and Claire Mole strengthened their grip on second place in the championship with fourth overall in their Mitsubishi Evo IX. Scott Beattie and Peredur Wyn Davies were fifth in an ex-Freddie Milne Mitsubishi Evo VII.
Picture c/o Eddie Kelly