David Bogie and Kevin Rae kept their 2009 Hankook MSA Scottish Rally Championship campaign well on track with their second victory of the season on Saturday's Gleaner Oil & Gas Speyside Stages, an event they won last year too.
Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy, the only other crew to win twice in 2009, finished a further 32 seconds back, with Euan Thorburn and Campbell Roy third. They were elevated to the final podium spot following the exclusion of Jock Armstrong and Kirsty Riddick for a technical infringement.
With two rounds remaining, the Hankook drivers' championship could not be more finely balanced, with Bogie, Faulkner and Armstrong, who was the leader going into the Speyside, now tied on 131 points apiece. With final championship positions decided on the best six scores out of eight, the penultimate round, the Merrick Forest Stages on September 5, is set to be a make or break event.
After the disappointment of crashing out on the Scottish in June, a second Speyside win was a much needed confidence boost for Bogie and Rae.
It was also achieved in the same car as last year - the Derek McGeehan prepared Toyota Corolla WRC replacing the Mitsubishi Evo 9, which had sustained heavy damage on the previous round.
After blasting through the two short spectator stages at Elgin's Cooper Park, Bogie admitted it had taken him the first of the forest stages - the 2.64 mile Tauchers Wood - to 'really get back in the groove' in the Toyota.
However, once he had found his rhythm, there was no looking back. He scored three outright stage wins - including the penultimate test, the 14.35 mile Blackstripes - and shared the fastest time with Mike Faulkner over the 6.58 miles of SS6 Balloch.
The sense of relief shown by the 22-year-old Dumfries driver at the finish was plain to see after the trials and tribulations of an up and down season.
“It's gone extremely well - glad to be back in the Toyota, good rally, good stages - and we were able to increase the pace as the day went on,” said Bogie. “We really pushed on the long second last stage because we knew the rally could be won or lost there, and then we held station on the final stage. I'm also very pleased that Mike finished second, because it keeps the championship close, and that's how it should be – so a good day all round.”