Andy Horne made up for lost time by powering his custom-built DAM 4100 GTI to second overall on Saturday's 'star studded' Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally, the final round of the County Saab MSA Scottish Rally Championship.

The Inverness-based driver had to sit-out the middle part of the season after crashing out of the Border Counties in April - resulting in a complete rebuild of the Metro 6R4-based car.

However, Horne, with long-time co-driver Jim Howie, was in impressive form in front of the huge crowds in Perthshire, maintaining his runners-up spot behind world-rally star Matthew Wilson in an 05' Ford Focus WRC throughout the four completed stages.

Organisers were forced to cancel the final stage - Craigvinean - after a big 'off' involving five-times British champion Jimmy McRae and co-driver Andy Richardson.

Their Porsche 911 crashed down a steep banking into a ravine, and although McRae and Richardson managed to get out signal that they were OK, it was not before one spectator had phoned "999" on a mobile. This resulted in several fire appliances making their way onto the stage - one of which got stuck trying to negotiate a bend.

On a day dominated by 2-wheel drive cars - and in particular the iconic Escort Mk2 - Sauchen's Callum Mackenzie and navigator Alan Clark got one over the 'super-stars' with a superb drive for the final podium place.

While finishing with an identical time to Alister McRae, they had the advantage of a quicker run through SS1.

Last year's 'McRae' winner, Dumfries driver David Bogie, endured a difficult day at the wheel of his first left-hand drive car - an 05-plate Ford Focus WRC - to finish fifth overall.

Although adapting quickly to the change in driving position, the 21-year-old, with Kevin Rae on the notes, was far from happy with the set up of the car.

The pair finished fifteen seconds ahead of Gretna's Mike Faulkner and co-driver Peter Foy from Bingley, who consolidated second place in the championship, having already secured the Group A title on the previous Merrick Forest Stages round in their Mitsubishi Evo 6.

However, the day was not without its problems: Faulkner picking up a front puncture five miles into the fourth Griffin stage, followed by a visit to a ditch.

The crew had no alternative but to limp through the final 4 miles of the stage, dropping 30 seconds to the second place Andy Horne and moving to sixth overall.

"We tried everything to limit the loss of time and were still carrying speeds of 100 mph with a flat front", reflected Faulkner.

Once again Faulkner traded stage times with long-time sparring partner Steven Clark in his Evo 4 - just one second separatng them at the end.

Clark clinched the Group N title on what for him and co-driver Michelle Falconer was a "trouble-free" event, after seeing his main rival Barry Groundwater first pick up a puncture on SS2 and then being forced to retire when the rear differential of his Evo 9 packed in on SS4.

Scottish Borders' driver Euan Thorburn, with Claire Mole on the notes, tied with Clark after another strong performance at the wheel of his dad Alistair's Subaru Impreza N10, but had to settle for eighth, having been slower through the first stage.

The final two top ten places were held down by Irish Escort Mk2 ace Martin McCormack and navigator Liam Moynihan who finished five seconds ahead of Finland's Jarkko and Petri Nikara in a Ford Fiesta ST.

Newton Stewart's Mark McCulloch and co-driver Craig Wallace secured the Scottish Junior Championship in their Peugeot 205 GTi - despite the pair having to push the car to the finish line in Perth city centre, after the clutch and starter motor failed.

It proved to be a day of attrition for many competitors on the challenging Perthshire stages - forty of the 140 starters failed to finish - including Irish world rally star Kris Meeke, former British champion Russell Brookes, and ex-British Superbike rider and Mk2 exponent John Crawford, who had the satisfaction of catching and passing both Hannu Mikkola and Malcolm Wilson in their respective Mk2's.



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