The Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally


September 11th, 2022

Henderson & Lees take first Armstrong Galloway Hills Victory

County Durham rally driver David Henderson didn’t let his lack of knowledge of the Galloway forest stages hamper him en route to victory on Saturday’s (10 September) Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally.

Co-driven by Chris Lees from Glasgow, the Ford Fiesta Rally2 driver was competing on the event for the first time, and had arrived at the event thinking he may be at a disadvantage compared to his rivals. However, fastest times on the final four of the six stages of the event elevated the pairing to a 35 second victory after 44 competitive miles in the Galloway forests. The duo also secured maximum points in the KNC Groundworks Motorsport UK Scottish Rally Championship, in which Chris now leads the co-driver Championship with one round remaining.

Dumfries ace David Bogie, co-driven by John Rowan from Northern Ireland, drove a calculated rally in his Ford Fiesta Rally2 to finish in the runners-up spot, vitally scoring enough points to secure a fantastic sixth Scottish Rally Championship title. Bogie and Rowan had led the event by a slim seven seconds after the first two stages, but after a puncture and knowing this was his last opportunity to score points due to the final championship round in October clashing with his Brother’s wedding in Brazil, David Bogie couldn’t allow himself to be sucked into a race with eventual winner David Henderson. A sixth Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally victory will undoubtedly come for Scotland’s most successful rally driver of this generation, but it just won’t be this year.

Organised by Solway, Machars and East Ayrshire Car Clubs, the 48th running of the event had suffered a route change just two weeks before it was due to take place, due to insufficient entry levels meaning the planned event was not financially viable.

Following the announcement of the death of Her Majesty The Queen on Thursday evening, the event began with a two-minute silence on Saturday morning where over 300 competitors, service crew, spectators and officials gathered together in the Service Area. The Silence was preceded by a beautiful lament on the Bagpipes by Solway Car Club member Scott Sloan, and the lament and the ‘silence’ were successfully transmitted over the Radio system to HQ and throughout the Stages by the Communications team. Each competing Rally Car also carried a specially made black sunstrip, bearing a simple gold crown in the centre.

Following in the wheel tracks of the two Davids, the final podium place went to Event Sponsor Jock Armstrong. The nine-time winner of the event suffered car issues and a lack of power in his aging Subaru Impreza for the duration of the event, but he and co-driver Cammy Fair managed this problem well to finish in 3rd Overall. Dumfries-based Construction and Renewables specialists, The Armstrong Group, have sponsored the event since the year 2000, and without their enthusiasm and devoted title sponsorship, along with funding from Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Major Festivals & Events Strategy, the event would not be possible.

Local Dumfries & Galloway crew Angus Lawrie and Paul Gribben scored their best results to date, taking 4th Overall in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. They also took home the ‘Lawrance Clark Trophy’ which is awarded to the highest-placed Co-Driver resident in the DG postal district in memory of the 1987 winning co-driver.

John Wink and Neil Shanks rounded off the Top 5 in their Hyundai i20 R5, just four seconds ahead of 2011 event winner Mark McCulloch (Dumfries) and Michael Hendry in their Proton Satria Evo.

Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson from Penrith scooped the top two-wheel-drive honours in their Historic-spec Ford Escort Mk II, finishing a magnificent 9th overall. The duo collected the ‘Brian Allan Memorial Award for Top rear-wheel-drive in the process, in memory of the well-known Machars Farmer. John Crawford and Josh Davison finished 2nd 2WD in 14th Overall, with the similar Ford Escort Mk II of regular Northern Irish visitors Paul McErlean and Niall McKenna 3rd two-wheel drive and 17th Overall.

In the front wheel drive category, Dumfries crew Peter Stewart and Harry Marchbank took victory in their Peugeot 208 Rally4 finishing in 11th, just ahead of the top Irish crew Brendan Cumiskey and Martin Connolly in a Ford Fiesta Rally4, with Keith Riddick and Mairi Riddick finishing 15th Overall and 3rd in class in their MG ZR.

The event was also a counting round of the Motoscope Northern Historic Gravel Rally Championship, with the Thirsk crew of Nick Kitching and Andrew Trollope bringing their Ford Escort Mk II home ahead of the Mk I Mexico version of Robin Shuttleworth and Malcolm Smithson from Skipton.

In the Marque Awards, the first ‘East Ayrshire Car Club crew’ were William Pollock and John Marshall who finished 31st in their Ford Escort Mk II, while the immaculate Chrysler Sunbeam Ti of fellow East Ayrshire members David McLeod and Eamonn Boyle was the Scrutineers’ choice for the ‘Jay McNicholas Memorial Award’ for Best Presented Car. The ‘Barbara Armstrong Ladies Awards’ went to Meghan O’Kane (Driver) and Mairi Riddick (Co-driver).

The final special award of the event, the ‘Robbie Murphie Spirit of the Rally’ in memory of our popular Chief Medic, was awarded to Scottish motoring journalist John Fife, as a tribute for all he has done, and continues to do, for Scottish motorsport.

Full results can be found here:

Podium Photo: Margaret Wylie of Holy Socks presents David Henderson and Chris Lees with the winners’ trophy, on behalf of The Armstrong Group. © John Fife

Results by Local Crews, and Members of Promoting Car Clubs Solway, Machars & East Ayrshire:
(1) David Henderson (Oakenshaw) / Chris Lees (Glasgow) Ford Fiesta Rally2; (2) David Bogie (Dumfries) / John Rowan (Portglenone) Ford Fiesta Rally2; (3) Jock Armstrong (Clarebrand) / Cameron Fair (Tobermory) Subaru Impreza; (4) Angus Lawrie (Castle Douglas) / Paul Gribben (Annan) Mitsubishi Evo 9; (6) Mark McCulloch (Dumfries) / Michael Hendry (Aberlour) Proton Satria Evo; (7) Hugh Brunton (Arbroath) / Drew Sturrock (Brechin) Ford Fiesta R5; (10) Andy Scott (Lochfoot) / Patrick Walsh (Aberystwyth) Ford Fiesta S2000T; (11) Peter Stewart (Dumfries) / Harry Marchbank (Dumfries) Peugeot 208 Rally4; (15) Keith Riddick (Haugh of Urr) / Mairi Riddick (Dumfries) MG ZR; (16) Scott Peacock (Castle Douglas) / Craig Wallace (Westmuir) Mitsubishi Evo 8; (22) Justin Gunning (Lanark) / Steven Clark (Conway) Ford Fiesta R2; (23) Robert Proudlock (Dumfries) / Andrew Falconer (Inverness) Vauxhall Adam; (26) Niall Cowan Jr (Auldgirth) / Callum Shanks (Dumfries) MG ZR; (27) David Hardie (Kirkgunzeon) / John McCulloch (Dumfries) Ford  Escort Mk II; (28) Tom Coughtrie (Ayr) / Ian Fraser (Isle of Mull) Ford Fiesta Rally2; (30) Jim Robertson (Thornhill) / Mike Curry (Thornhill) Ford Escort Mk II; (31) William Pollock (Cumnock) / John Marshall (Torrance) Ford Escort Mk II; (32) Martyn Erskine (Stranraer) / Kieran Hyslop (Stranraer) Peugeot 206 Cup; (34) David Mcleod (Mauchline) / Eamonn Boyle (Kilmarnock) Chrysler Sunbeam; (35) Alistair Brearley (Galashiels) / Gerry Bryden (Sorn) Ford Escort Mk II; (37) Richard Stewart (Dumfries) / Colin Maxwell (Dumfries) Peugeot 208 Rally4; (42) Ron Horne (Nairn) / Alan Edwards (Sanquhar) Subaru Impreza; (DNF) Craig McMiken (Newton Stewart) / Charlotte McDowall (Newton Stewart) Ford Fiesta Rally2; (DNF) Duncan Ferguson (Dalmellington) / Alex Murphy (Patna) Ford Escort Mk II; (DNF) Lewis Haining (Dumfries) / Ian Parker (Lochgilphead) Vauxhall Corsa; (DNF) Niall Cowan (Dumfries) / Helen Brown (Dumfries) MG3.