Although Used carparts.co.uk Solway Coast Rally was not originally on the plan of events in 2011 for Craig Wallace from Kirriemuir and his driver Mark McCulloch, an entry was made for this “Tarmac” event to test the ‘new’ car.
Having concluded that it was time to move to four-wheel drive, a Subaru Impreza had been bought to replace the hard worked Fiesta ST.
This was not a new venture in some respects as Craig and Mark, from Newton Stewart, had taken third overall on this particular event in a similar car previously.
The recently acquired Impreza had only been collected a few days before and neither Craig nor Mark had had a run in it never mind use it in competition.
Based at the army ranges at Dundrennan, the eight stages would be hard work.
The first two stages were taken with some caution to ease into the handling of the car.
Two clean runs with no issues brought Craig and Mark into service.
A thorough check, refuel and it was back out for a further two stages. This time the times were much improved now that confidence in the car was building.
A second visit into service and they found themselves in third place. Again with only a spanner check and refuel this was shaping up to be a good day.
Rallying, of course, is never over until the finish line.
Four more stages to go, so no time or opportunity to relax.
The closeness of the event gave excellent competition.
At this stage the duo were only 14 seconds off the lead.
Interestingly they were now trying to catch the leader David Hardie, who is co-driven by Mark’s father.
Craig said: “David and John knew we would push hard all the way.
“To catch them with a less powerful car would be an incredible result. So we did just that, pushed hard all day trying to make inroads into their times.”
Indeed at the third service halt Craig and Mark were up into second place but still the gap to Hardie/McCulloch was 14 seconds.
So to the final two stages and all to play for!
Craig and Mark had to balance the second overall spot against pushing too hard to try and catch the leaders.
It was in their hands, for a minor error could see them lose second which, on any day, is a great result.
Craig highlighted the drama of the last two stages.
“We knew that the leaders still had a bit more pace to use. They had superior tyres and brakes and more power, but we had been quicker on stage six so we opted for pushing as hard as we could.
“Hardie/McCulloch knew we were close and, despite our best efforts, we held on easily to second overall but never quite overcame the challenge to catch a very quick car and crew.”
Craig and Mark were elated - great teamwork and second overall in the first outing in an unfamiliar car.