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Mark’s Solway Coast hat-trick

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By Fiona Reid
Sport
Mark's Solway Coast hat-trick

MARK McCulloch from Newton Stewart scored his third consecutive victory at the weekend’s www.UsedCarParts.co.uk Solway Coast Rally on the military ranges near Dundrennan.

The event, which is held annually and is organised by Solway Car Club, attracted 80 cars for the senior class on Saturday, which saw competitors from the Five of Clubs, Scottish Tarmack, North of England Tarmacadam, and Borders Challenge Rally Championship all tackling the 45 mile course.
Winner in 2013 and 2014, Mark McCulloch started as top seed with Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) alongside in their Mitsubishi Evo IX. They arrived at the first service halt with a five second lead over the Hardie Engineering Subaru Impreza of 2012 winners David Hardie and John McCulloch (Dumfries/Newton Stewart), with son and father duo of ex-Scottish Rally Champions Gary and Gordon Adam in a Ford Escort Mk II a further 19 seconds back in third.
By the second service the positions had changed, with the Hardie Engineering Subaru Impreza setting impressive times to beat the youngsters in the Hardie Engineering Mitsubishi Evo IX on both stages and take a slender two second lead at the halfway point. Kirkgunzeon’s Rory Young/Allan Cathers in the Scottish Christmas Trees Ford Fiesta R5 had picked up their pace to move from 7th to 3rd equal with the Adams family.
Another fastest time from Hardie and McCulloch Senior on SS5 before the lunch halt left the top crews dead level on times, setting up an exciting afternoon finale over the final three stages. Rory Young, on his maiden tarmac event, had moved into 3rd overall, albeit 49 seconds behind the leaders.
The McCulloch/Riddick duo laid down the gauntlet taking five seconds on SS6, with Hardie/McCulloch Senior only managing to take two seconds back when the stage was repeated as SS7. Another fastest time in the final 4.6 mile test saw McCulloch/Riddick win by six seconds, the biggest margin between the two top crews all day, with Rory Young/Allan Cathers taking the final podium spot.
The popular event again attracted sponsorship from Dumfries based DA Autoparts, with this event marking the 35th consecutive year that the Stewart family have supported the event. Peter Stewart finished first in Class 2 in his www.UsedCarParts.co.uk Ford Fiesta R2 with novice co-driver Paula McGuire alongside.
And it wasn’t just the overall battle which was a close one; the battle for Class 1 honours between the 1400cc Vauxhall Corsas of Steven Hay/Steven Brown and Ross Carbry/Kyle Livingstone was just as close, with the two going into the final stage only a second apart, with the Stevens managing to win the class by three seconds.
Local youngsters Stewart Dodds and Scott White finished third, winning best improvement in seeding after starting last car at 85, to finish 35th on their first event.
Sunday’s event was a counter in three championships for junior drivers aged 14-17 and 32 of the nation’s youngsters from the Brick & Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge, McGrady Insurance ANICC Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland and Kick Energy Junior 1000 Rally Championship tackled the event in a selection of 1000cc cars.
It was the first time this season that the three series have joined together, allowing those from Scotland and Northern Ireland to pitch themselves against the best drivers from the sister series in England and Wales. Newly-crowned 2015 Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland Champion Josh & Tommy McErlean (Kilrea, NI) were the fastest boys on the day, but a mechanical problem dropped them OTL, meaning the top spot went to Peter Bennett/Arthur Keirans who finished 14 seconds ahead of the similar Citroen C1 of current Brick & Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge leader Finlay Retson/Andrew Falconer, with Welshopool based Zak Hughes/Chris Evans finishing third for a second consecutive year.

2nd Overall David Hardie & John McCulloch © Mark Fisher
2nd Overall David Hardie & John McCulloch © Mark Fisher
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