The penultimate round of this year's Scottish Rally Championship will be played out in the Galloway Forest on Saturday - and it promises to be a memorable encounter.
The Merrick Forest Stages Rally has attracted a top class field with entries from north and south of the border, as well as Northern Ireland.
Twelve months ago, Jimmy Girvan and young rival David Bogie ended the Merrick in a dead heat: the advantage and outright rally win going to Girvan under tie-break rules, while Bogie secured the Group N title for showroom-spec cars.
This time around the stakes are higher, with both drivers chasing the Scottish title: a fight which is destined to go to the wire on the final round, the McRae Stages, at the end of the month.
Bogie stormed back into contention in the second half of the season, scoring full points on both the 'Scottish' and the 'Speyside' in his hired Toyota Corolla WRC.
The 21-year-old now has three maximum points scores, to Girvan's two, and, with the six best scores out of eight deciding the championship, the pair are equal on 116 points apiece, with two rounds remaining. .
“I need to come out of the Merrick with the outright Scottish championship points to keep the title race alive”, said Bogie. “I think it is well within my grasp – they are good stages, last year I thoroughly enjoyed them”.
Girvan, with co-driver Kirsty Riddick, has been the model of consistency all season in his TEG-Sport Subaru Impreza.
“We have to win at least the Merrick, or the McRae Stages, to have a good chance of the championship,” said the 1990 title holder. “We have led from the start of the year, and to be equal with David with just two rallies remaining means that we all have to go flat out from here on in”.
Third seed on Saturday is Inverness-based Andy Horne, who with navigator Jim Howie, will be back in action in his recently re-built DAM 4100GTi.