September 2nd, 2018
Galloway Hills Rally attracts star-studded entry
The 2018 Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally is shaping up to be one of the best in the event’s 45-year history, as some of the best drivers in the sport head for Castle Douglas this weekend (8th September).
Over 85 crews from across the UK and Ireland are set to head to Dumfries and Galloway for the popular end of season blast through the local forests, which will also play host to the final and deciding round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship.
After five rounds, the race to be Scottish champion will be fought out over 43 miles of competitive action in classic stages such as Cairn Edward, Black Loch and Glentrool.
Organised by Solway, Machars and East Ayrshire Car Clubs, the Galloway Hills Rally has traditionally been a must-do event, thanks to being a proud recipient of a Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Major Festivals and Events Strategy 2018-2021 grant.
One hundred per cent of this valuable contribution is used to encourage competitors from far and wide to head to the region for the rally and has drawn significant interest from across the Irish Sea, which has led to a star-studded list of crews set to take part this weekend.
Local hero, event sponsor and nine-time winner of the event Jock Armstrong will lead the crews away on Saturday morning from under the gaze of Threave House in his familiar Subaru Impreza. Armstrong will be co-driven by Cameron Fair and the duo will be hoping to take Armstrong’s winning record into double figures.
However, there is a significant list of crews behind him on the road who will be looking to stop that from happening. Former British champion and five-time Scottish champion David Bogie will wheel out his brand-new Skoda Fabia R5 for the rally with Irishman John Rowan alongside. Bogie, from Dumfries, is one of the favourites to take the win and add to his previous two Galloway Hills victories.
Duns resident Garry Pearson showed great pace on the last round of the SRC in his Ford Fiesta R5 and starts at three with Welshman Dale Bowen in the passenger seat. The first of the overseas visitors attracted by the Grant from Dumfries and Galloway Council, Jonny Greer makes a welcome trip over from Belfast to contest the rally in his DGM Sport Ford Fiesta R5, starting at car four.
Another crew to head over from Northern Ireland, Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan bring a Mitsubishi Evo X to Castle Douglas. The County Antrim driver can usually be seen on the British Championship so will be one to watch on the day and rounds off the top five. Niall Henry will also make the trip across the water with his rapid Citroen DS3 R5, with Damien Duffin in the co-drivers seat.
All eyes will be on the fight for the SRC title during the day between Hurlford’s Andrew Gallacher and Inverness driver Donnie MacDonald. Gallacher has already helped co-driver Jane Nicol seal her name on the championship trophy, but will be aiming to take his Ford Focus WRC to the title as well. MacDonald and co-driver Jamie Edwards will need a decent result in their Fiesta R5 if they are to stop Gallacher in his tracks.
Freddie Milne rounds off the top eight and will be hoping to take an SRC podium against tough opposition in his Subaru Impreza WRC at the Hills. Milne, from Aberdeen, has Patrick Walsh in the co-drivers seat and has shown great pace this season and will look to build on his impressive form of late.
Local support is not just confined to the front-runners. Dumfries driver Mark McCulloch starts at car 12 in his Subaru Impreza along with Michael Hendry. Fellow local Angus Lawrie and Paul Gribben will be ones to watch in their rapid Vauxhall Corsa with Haugh of Urr pilot Keith Riddick also sure to be on the pace in his MG ZR.
Spectators will be well catered for during the event and have ample choices to watch the action both on and off the stages. Castle Douglas will be buzzing with anticipation on Friday 7th September as crews carry out the pre-event technical checks and documentation in the town.
On the morning of Saturday 8th, the Threave Castle and Gardens will play host to the start ceremony at 09:00 before heading out to the stages. The stunning natural amphitheatre in the Black Loch stage offers a great chance to see action for almost a minute at a time thanks to a new and extended viewing facility.
Catering and WC facilities will also be provided and cars are set to pass through the stage twice, once at 10:15 and again at 12:45 and is located on the A712 between Newton Stewart and New Galloway.
The rally will then return to Threave where the winners will celebrate success with the traditional champagne spray and podium at around 15:15, which will also see the crowning of the 2018 Scottish Rally Champion.