Points leader Jock Armstrong believes four or five drivers are in with a chance of winning this year's Hankook MSA Scottish Rally Championship, as it approaches the half-way stage.
The Castle Douglas competitor was speaking ahead of next Sunday's Jim Clark Reivers Rally – the only tarmac event of the eight-round series.
Currently, eight points cover the top four drivers - Armstrong; “Snowman” winner Reay Mackay; Mike Faulkner, who took his maiden SRC victory on last month's Granite City Rally; and David Bogie.
With competitors able to drop their two lowest scores from the final points tally at the end of the season, Armstrong – who also heads the Group N category - knows the pressure is on as he heads into an event he last contested in 2000.
Back then it was at the wheel of a Volkswagen Golf Gti - this time out it will be the recently-built Subaru Impreza N11 in which Armstrong and co-driver Kirsty Riddick have competed the last two rounds.
“It's untried on tarmac, but we'll have new springs to lower the car, making it slightly stiffer and hopefully it'll handle OK, “said Armstrong, adding: “I've been happy with the performance so far – it's been solid”.
He continued: “I quite like the tarmac – it's a good change, to jump from one surface to the other, it brings out different drivers, different skills”.
Fellow south-west of Scotland competitor David Bogie will tackle both the International and Reivers events as he continues his British and Scottish championship campaigns.
The 21-year-old Dumfries driver and navigator Kevin Rae will be targetting a podium finish on the Duns-based SRC round after throwing away a potential win on the Granite City.