The biggest motorsport event in the North-east of Scotland, the Coltel Granite City Rally, roars into action this Saturday with more than 100 crews starting from the Thainstone Agricultural Centre.
As they head off into the five stunning and demanding Kincardineshire stages, which form the 44 miles of the rally, a host of local drivers will be determined to deny triple Scottish champion, and current British champ, David Bogie, victory.
The 24-year-old from Dumfries heads into Coltel Granite City Rally eyeing his third win in the opening three rounds of the Scottish Rally Championship.
Bogie, partnered by Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae in his Mitsubishi Evo IX, faces stiff competition from a number of North-east drivers looking to win on home soil.
Stonehaven’s Barry Groundwater, driving another Evo IX, starts the Coltel Granite City Rally on the back of two solid performances.
A good performance this weekend will see Groundwater move into third place in the Scottish Rally Championship ahead of Rory Young. The Dumfries driver isn’t competing in the Granite.
And while Inverness duo Donnie Macdonald and co-driver Keir Beaton will be gunning for a podium in their Mitsubishi Evo IX, Banchory’s Quintin Milne is also eyeing home success in yet another Evo IX.
“We’re still learning lots about the car,” Milne, partnered by Aberdeen navigator Martin Forrest and who has stepped up to the 4WD Mitsubishi this year from his 2WD Ford Escort MkII, admitted.
“But we’re learning fast. We’ve scored two top 10 finishes in the opening two rounds, and at times we’ve been very quick. We’ve had a few technical niggles, but we’re ready for this weekend.”
Running ahead of the main field, the two-wheel-drive championship promises to deliver a real North-east battle in matching Ford Escort MkII cars.
Alford’s Keith Robathan, with David O’Brien on the notes, faces a stiff challenge from his old rival Calum Mackenzie. The Inverurie driver is returning to his Escort after recent outings in an Evo VIII.
Alford’s David Wilson, who finished third in last year’s Coltel Granite in a 4WD Evo IX, is also expected to push for a 2WD podium in his Escort MkII. Wilson is co-driven by Aberdeen’s Dave Robson.
The first car will leave the Thainstone Agricultural Centre at 9.01am on Saturday morning, and should be back at Thainstone by 3pm.
Top 10 seeded entries:
1. David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Mitsubishi Evo IX;
2. Mike Faulkner (KIrtlebridge)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubushi Evo VI;
3. Euan Thorburn (Duns)/Paul Beaton (Inverness) Ford Focus WRC;
4. Barry Groundwater (Stonehaven)/Neil Shanks (Elgin) Mitsubishi Evo IX;
5. Donnie Macdonald (Inverness)/Andrew Falconer (Inverness) Mitsubishi Evo IX;
6. John McClory (Strathblane)/David Hood (Elderslie) Subaru Imprezza N15;
7. Quintin Milne (Banchory)/Martin Forrest (Aberdeen Mitsubishi Evo IX;
8. Chris Collie (Portlethen)/Lisa Watson (Alford) Mitsubishi Evo VI;
9. Stephen Lockhart (Oban)/Kevin Lockhart (Oban) Mitsubushi Evo7
10. Bruce Mccombie (Banchory)/Michael Coutts (Torphins) Subaru Impreza.