Duncan Campbell celebrated his fourth season in rallying with a win in the Brick and Steel Civic Ecosse Challenge section of Saturday’s Gleaner Oil and Gas Speyside Stages. Garry Pearson notched up his second victory of the year in the 205 Ecosse Challenge, throwing Pearson and co-driver Tom Hynd right back into contention in the series title race. However, Grant Inglis and Steven Smith remain in the lead of the Civic and 205 Ecosse Challenge championships respectively.
After three seasons campaigning a Peugeot, Ayrshire driver Campbell elected to move up to the new series for Honda Civic rally cars at the start of this year. And after a difficult start to the season that saw Duncan sidelined for several months while work on his new car was completed, the vending company director was rewarded for his persistence with a convincing win in the Moray forests.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Duncan, though. With regular navigator Gary Patrick sidelined through a back injury, Gavin Chisholm had to step into the co-driver’s seat at short notice. A recurring electrical gremlin caused the crew’s engine to cut out intermittently over the course of the day, and suspension issues slowed them on the final test. But with Graeme Schoneville and Phil Coulby suffering a litany of problems after clouting a kerb early on and Ruary MacLeod suffering gear selection issues, Campbell and Chisholm took the spoils comfortably. MacLeod recovered to take second Honda place, with Billy Davidson and Martin MacCabe rounding out the Civic podium. Title race leader Grant Inglis retired early on with gearbox issues.
Garry Pearson and Tom Hynd were eventually declared 205 winners after a tough day on the stages. Garry traded fastest times with fellow juniors Steven Smith and Sean Robson, but uncertainties in the timesheets meant all three youngsters ran for much of the day with a little confusion as to who was leading. After some superb driving from all three gentlemen, Duns teenager Garry was eventually declared the winner at rally headquarters on Elgin.
Steven Smith and co-driver Russell Fair weren’t far behind despite a flattened exhaust that robbed them of power for much of the day, whereas Sean Robson and dad Iain kept up their championship charge with a fine third place. Mark McCulloch/Craig Wallace fell by the wayside after complaining of bring down on power. Jordan Black and Stuart Loudon were fourth Peugeot, and Alex Pirie of Keith and David Law of Huntly finished fifth 205 Challenge Car on their home rally.
“I’m delighted with the win now that we’ve made it to the finish, but I have to admit there were times today when I would have been glad to just to get a finish of any sort,” concedes Campbell (32). “The engine was cutting out on us as it’s done in previous rallies and we were getting some vibrations from on the final stage, but we made it and are very pleased indeed with the result!”
“A Challenge win and first in class – I’m extremely happy with the outcome!” declares Garry Pearson (18). “At the start of the day we set ourselves the target of a top two finish, so I’m delighted to have achieved that and can look forward to continuing this in the rest of the season.”
The next Brick and Steel Ecosse Challenge round will be the Hankook Merrick Forest Stages based in Galloway on Saturday 4 September.
Brick and Steel Ecosse Challenge – Gleaner Oil and Gas Speyside Stages
Civic Ecosse Challenge
1. Duncan Campbell (Ballochmyle) / Gavin Chisholm (Ayr) 52 minutes 10 seconds;
2. Ruary MacLeod (Ayr) / Will Rogers (Cinderford) 53:45;
3. Billy Davidson (Glasgow) / Martin MacCabe (Glasgow) 53:48;
4. Graeme Schoneville (Carluke) / Phil Coulby (Forres) 54:13.
205 Ecosse Challenge
1. Garry Pearson (Duns) / Tom Hynd (Inverbervie) 50:52;
2. Steven Smith (East Kilbride) / Russell Fair (Stewarton) 51:06;
3. Sean Robson (St Boswells) / Dave Robson (Jedburgh) 51:29;
4. Jordan Black (Lanark) / Stuart Loudon (Uddingston) 52:19;
5. Alex Pirie (Keith) / David Law (Huntly) 52:42;
6. Graeme Smith (Crossford) / Laura Marshall (Ayr) 53:29;
7. Nick Thorne (Lauder) / Scott Hunter (St Boswells) 54:24;
8. Sarah Hunter (St Boswells) / Gary White (Melrose) 57:23.