A sprig of white heather proved a lucky charm for Dumfries rally ace David Bogie as he powered to victory on Saturday's Gleaner Oil & Gas Speyside Stages - the sixth round of the County Saab Scottish Championship.

The 21-year-old declared himself "chuffed to bits" after taking his third maximum SRC points haul of the season in his Toyota Corolla WRC.

Bogie, and Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae, finished the eight Moray stages in a total time of 43 minutes 27 seconds - ten seconds ahead of runner-up Jimmy Girvan of Inverness - the current series leader - in his Subaru Impreza.

Following his full points score on the previous round, the "Scottish", at the end of June, Bogie knew that with the title decided on the best six scores out of eight, he had to repeat the feat in the forests of Moray if he was to keep his hopes alive.

"The championship is back on track", said Bogie, as he celebrated his win at the finish in Elgin town centre, adding: "We picked some white heather from the roadside on the way up which I had with me in the car - and I'll be taking it to the next round, the Merrick Stages, as well!"

The heather might well have been dispensed with, after Bogie stalled at the start of the second short spectator stage on the tarmac of Elgin's Cooper Park - but once out into the forests, he was well into his stride.

Overall victory was not Bogie's priority on the day - but he took full advantage after British Champion Guy Wilks - standing in for Aberdeen's
Dave Weston - was forced to retire with transmission problems.

Weston - who's not contesting the SRC this season - had to withdraw from the event at the eleventh hour with a back problem, depriving him of the opportunity of becoming the first three-time winner of the Speyside, after victories in 2006 and 2007.

Wilks quickly mastered Weston's Ford Focus WRC and - with navigator Dave Robson - won four of the first five stages, building up a 36 second lead over Bogie, before his day ended on SS6 Balloch.

Jimmy Girvan was well satisfied with his day's work, although he admitted to some "scary moments" on a slippery SS3 Whiteash after a doubtful tyre choice.

Nevertheless, he was equal second with Wilks on that stage, behind Bogie, and was never out of the top three thereafter.

Girvan - and co-driver Kirsty Riddick - finished the day with a flourish - taking eight seconds out of Bogie's lead on the second run through Gartly Moor - a stage described by the 1990 Scottish Champion as "just awesome".

Gretna's Mike Faulkner, and co-driver Peter Foy, went into the "Speyside" aiming for a top three finish to keep their championship campaign on track - and that's exactly what they achieved, taking the final podium place in their GpA Mitsubishi Evo 6.

Faulkner recorded an identical time with six other drivers - including Girvan - on the second Cooper Park stage, and went on to record fifth/seventh/fourth/fifth/third and fifth fastest times on the forest tests.

Watching his son, with navigator Iain Windress, finish fourth overall will have helped Dave Weston get over the disappointment of missing out on an historic third win.

While not competing for championship points, Dave Weston Jnr - on just his second Scottish outing in his Subaru Impreza N12 - turned in an impressive performance to take GpN honours.

Equally impressive was another rallying "son" - Euan Thorburn of Duns - who was at the wheel of his dad Alistair's Subaru Impreza.

With experienced co-driver Claire Mole of Jedburgh on the notes, Thorburn traded stage times with Weston Jnr throughout the day, and on the final test was second only to Girvan. He finished fifth overall - tied with Weston Jnr: the Aberdeen driver just getting the advantage.

The "Speyside" marked the return to competition of local favourite Andy Horne, and although not able to repeat his win of ten years ago, he was right in the mix, finishing the day sixth overall, with long-time co-driver Jim Howie.

Horne had had his venerable DAM 4100 Gti completely rebuilt after crashing out of the Border Counties round in April, and had promised to give the leaders a "run for their money" on his home event.

After four stages he was lying fourth - sixteen seconds adrift of Girvan - but lost ground on SS5 and SS6 - before recovering to record a fourth fastest time on the penultimate stage, and third-equal with Bogie on the final run through Gartly Moor.

Stonehaven's Barry Groundwater, and co-driver Jude Wylie of Jedburgh, finished as the leading SRC-registered GpN competitors in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 - their overall seventh place giving them valuable points in the absence of class leader Steven Clark who was unable to make it back in time after taking part in a charity drive to Africa.

After what he admitted was a "horrendous" outing on the "Scottish" at the end of June, Sauchen's Calum Mackenzie, and co-driver Alan Clark, turned in an impressive performance in their Mk 2 Escort to finish eighth overall, and first of the 2-wheel drive competitors.

The Mk2 of Motherwell's John Crawford and co-driver Ian Simpson finished a further eleven seconds back in ninth, with another GpN crew, John Morrison of Conon Bridge and Aberdeen's Martin Forrest, rounding off the top ten.

Among the casualties were 1600cc class leader Bruce McCombie, whose Ford Puma ended up in a ditch on the penultimate stage - the Aberdeenshire driver's first DNF of the season; Oban's William Bonniwell who went off the road in his Subaru Impreza on SS6; and Donnie MacDonald of Inverness who came to grief in his Evo 9 on the final stage.


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