One of the biggest entries in recent times is set to tackle this year’s Grampian Forest Rally, as 120 crews from across the UK and beyond contest the popular 14 August motorsport event.
Organised by Stonehaven and District Motor Club, the rally is based in Crathes near Banchory and is a qualifying round of both the Motorsport UK British Rally Championship and KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championships. Its popularity this year means it is shaping up to be the biggest motorsport event in the Northeast of Scotland for many years.
Welcoming the British Championship for the first time since the 1980s has helped to attract an enviable list of entries from across the country, further bolstering the contenders in the Scottish series. The one-day rally takes place in the forests of Durris, Fetteresso and Drumtochty with a central rally base at Milton of Crathes.
With the Scottish Rally Championship finally being able to get underway in June, coupled with the eagerness for crews to get back behind the wheel, the rally has seen entry levels almost double from previous years, with entries being well oversubscribed for the 120 places available on the event.
Two-time British rally champion Matt Edwards will start the event as the number one seed, fresh from round two victory in Wales behind the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo GTi. Co-driven by Darren Garrod, the all-Welsh pairing will be aiming for win number two this season and ensure they are in the driving seat for Edwards to make history if he scoops the third BRC title in a row.
Irishmen Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes bring a powerful Ford Fiesta WRC to the Grampian, swapping their usual Hyundai i20 R5 for the flame-spitting machine. Whilst they bow out of contention in the BRC by using the powerful example, they are certainly in line to take the coveted event win and start the rally with number two on the door.
Rhys Yates will pilot his M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 along with co-driver James Morgan at car three, whilst Osian Pryce and Noel O’Sullivan are searching for their first BRC win since 2014 at number four seed.
Dumfries driver David Bogie heads to Banchory fresh from a win at the recent Scottish Rally and leads the Scottish Rally Championship crews away, rounding out the top five. Bogie and co-driver John Rowan will be eager to upset the BRC regulars and take himself into the record books by being the only driver to have chalked up more than four Grampian Rally wins. Bogie last won the event in 2017.
The entry list is awash with some of the best drivers in the UK who will be tackling classic forest stages in the region. Such is the quality of entry; local ace Bruce McCombie is seeded outside of the top twenty in his Ford Focus WRC. The Banchory man has chalked up an astonishing 21 starts on the rally and has also been a long-time supporter of the event. He will be co-driven by Michael Coutts.
Huntly driver and SRC regular John Wink brings his Hyundai i20 R5 to the event with Neil Shanks, whilst Aberdeen’s Keith Morris pilots his Mitsubishi Evo with Terry Mallin calling the notes.
“This is shaping up to be one of the most exciting Grampian Forest Rallies in many years,” says Event Spokesman and Rally Secretary, Gordon Ritchie.
“We are proud to be one of the most well-received events in the calendar and was awarded the 2019 Coogie Urquhart Trophy in for the best round of the Scottish Rally Championship. In addition, being able to welcome the British Rally Championship to the event has boosted the image of the rally further still and there will certainly be a huge spotlight on the event this weekend with interest in the event across the world”.
“It will be a huge honour to see so many champion drivers starting the rally from Banchory on Saturday [14 August] morning and heading out into the forests which are in great condition” continues Ritchie.
“We are confident of providing the perfect showcase of the region to a huge audience that follows the British and Scottish series and we are proud to be part of the return to rallying in the country this year”.
As announced in July, due to the current landscape and restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 situation, the event will run without spectators.
“We understand that this will be a disappointment to many, no more so than us, for the fans and event partners,” says Ritchie.
“However, in the interests of the sport, we do ask that you act responsibly, stay well clear of the forests over the rally weekend and do not make travel arrangements into the area. Any spectator activity in the stages will affect the running of the event.”
Event updates, results and live footage from the stages will be broadcast across the event’s social media channels during the day.
Regular updates and news will be posted on the events social media channels.
For more information on the British Rally Championship, please visit: www.britishrallychampionship.co.uk
For more information on the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship, please visit: www.scottishrallychampionship.co.uk