A wealth of Scottish Rally Championship talent set to star the McRae Rally Challenge

Words: Alasdair Beck – BeckSport Media

While the Superstar names gathering for the 2022 McRae Rally Challenge are grabbing the headlines they will be facing some stiff opposition from several names from the world of Scottish rallying.

Topping the entries, reigning Scottish Rally Champion and British Rally Championship regular Garry Pearson is out in his Rally 2 Fiesta: “ It’s great to have been invited to compete at such an iconic event with so many great names. The rally will have a real buzz about it and I’m really excited to have brand new sponsor Ross Kirk from VK Timber & Building Supplies in the co-driver’s seat. We’ll be sure to have fun and put on a show!”

Fresh from both Rally Barbados & the Dunoon Presents… Argyll Rally, Andy Scott & Laura Connell are not coming to make up the numbers. With the Fiesta still on a boat on its way back from Barbados the likelihood is they’ll be out in the Hyundai i20 they campaigned in Argyll. Going for the event win they competed at the Grant Construction Stages at the start of the year to get an idea of how the stages are going to be.

Reigning Scottish 2wd champions Mark McCulloch & Michael Hendry will be out in there Evo powered Proton Satria: “ It’s an honour to be invited, I grew up idolising Colin like a lot of young Scottish drivers did. We’re looking forward to showing our home engineered car off to a new audience and I’m hoping Alister might take an interest as an ex-Proton works driver.”

Beatson’s Building Supplies proprietor John Marshall has Craig Wallace in the hotseat. Craig is a former BRC junior and class champion co-driver as well as a multi-time class champion in the SRC. There’s a personal connection to the McRae family too as he shares a birthday date with Colin.

2018 Scottish Rally Champion and son of Scottish rallying legend Drew Gallacher. Andrew Gallacher is out in Steve Simpson’s Impreza. Andrew hasn’t driven a rally car since he won the Wales Rally GB National in 2018. With co-driver Bailey Callaghan competing in his 1st ever rally Andrew is looking to have fun and return the car in one piece.

SRC regulars make up the next 3 positions. John Wink & Neil Shanks will be out in their regular Hyundai i20 R5, one of the SRC’s most recognisable cars. They’re seeded just ahead of good mates Bruce McCombie & Michael Coutts in another of the SRC’s best known cars: the green Focus WRC. Good mates away from the stages, however, John & Bruce will be determined to beat each other on them.

But, they’ll both need to keep an eye in their mirrors for Scott Beattie & Jane Nicol. Scott has developed into a strong top 5 challenger in the SRC in recent years in his Evo and Jane is the 2018 Scottish Championship winning navigator.

Bob Adamson contested the 2015 McRae Challenge in his MK2, now he’s back in his Fiesta Rally 2 he purchased at the start of the 2022 season. Bob’s Fiesta is another very well known car in the SRC with it’s eye catching blue and copper paint scheme.

Current Albyn Garage Challengers points leader Angus Lawrie is out in his Evo 9. Angus another driver who grew up idolising Colin and is a former winner of the “If in doubt, flat out” trophy. A trophy originally presented to the SRC by the McRae family. It will be a busy weekend for Angus as he also prepares the red Evo that Sir Chris Hoy will be campaigning throughout the McRae Challenge.

Barry Groundwater will be campaigning his Subaru Impreza WRC. Sitting alongside will be Ally Shaw, the seat part of a 65th birthday present. Ally is no stranger to Knockhill or the McRae family as he drives 5 Star Vehicle Deliveries’ truck that is airbrushed with images of the McRae family. He hasn’t sat in a rally car since he navigated in the 70s, Barry joking that one full bore launch control start might be all Ally can handle.

Escort legend Steve Bannister & co-driver Callum Atkinson’s white Escort with a red stripe is known all over the UK. Steve is no stranger to locking horns with Jimmy McRae, be it on the Roger Albert Clark in recent times or back in the 70s and 80s. The Historic Escort will be one of the best sounding cars out there.

Also in a MK2 Willie Paterson is stepping out of his regular red Evo and back into the Escort he campaigned over 2 years ago. The 2.5 litre machine is a former Donegal winner and Willie is excited to try and beat his rallying hero and friend Jimmy McRae.

John Crawford is no stranger to Knockhill, the former British Superbike racer has turned many laps over the years. He also has been a McRae family friend for years, living near Colin’s home in Lanarkshire and spending days motorcrossing with Alister & Max in more recent times. He also enjoyed some friendly competition with Colin around the circuit:  “Colin had a replica of one of my superbikes built and we spent a day hotlapping around Knockhill. By the end of the day I was only 4 seconds a lap quicker which shows how good Colin was on a bike. We made a deal that the next rally we did he would give me 4 seconds a mile at the start of the day. You can imagine what the result was.” John will be out in his MK2 and despite gravel being his preferred surface he’s looking forward to a fun day out.

Ian Forgan suffered a massive accident on the Snowman Rally at the start of the 2022 season, leaving Ian with broken legs. After a fantastic recovery Ian has already been back in a rally car, having a run at a recent test session in David Henderson’s Rally 2 Fiesta and been on the pace, an impressive achievement. Bringing the Ka that brought him so much success in the Scottish Tarmack Championship back out of retirement he’s hoping to challenge the quicker cars on the twisty sections.

Brothers Ian & Stuart Paterson are both out in their Imprezas. They knew Coiln well and used to help prepare rally cars for him. Colin is also one of the reasons they campaign Subarus to this day and they are looking forward to a fun day out.

Chris Collie is another former “If in Doubt, Flat Out” award winner. Chris is coming off the back of a monster accident on the Jim Clark Reivers Rally. A monumental effort has been put in by car preparer Tim Finch to get the Evo back into fighting condition. Chris claims he’ll be taking it easy but that’s not the Collie way…..

Former Scottish 2wd champion Iain Wilson has been taking a break from rallying in recent times but is back out with co-driver Mark Roberts alongside. Iain will be out in his championship winning MK2, known affectionately as Bella. One of the best sounding Escorts in the country Bella has been refreshed by Snowden Motorsport and should be in fighting fit form. 

One of the cars that will attract a crowd is Brian Watson’s Audi Quattro S1. The Group B replica looks virtually identical to the monsters from the 80s and has just undergone a full redevelopment with a new engine, gearbox, diff setup and suspension. It also now has a Group B engine map button, giving him the full 600hp if he wants it. Keep an eye out for the 3 way private battle between Brian, Barry Groundwater and Skoda pilot Drew Gallagher. Brian’s out for revenge after losing out to Drew on the final stage of the Argyll.

It’s a big weekend for Stuart & Marc Irvine, not only are they campaigning their normal Accent WRC they’re also running their other Accent for Alister McRae. Stuart & Marc have had a very difficult season so far this year, hopefully their luck will change for this event.

Dougal Brown & Lewis Rochford are also “If in Doubt, Flat Out” award winners and Scottish 2wd champions. Making a comeback to rallying after a few years away their MK2 has been upgraded and developed since they won the championship. They’ll be using the McRae to learn more about the new car but still expect them to be challenging the top of the 2wds.

Reigning Scottish Ladies Champion Ashleigh Morris grew up only 15 minutes away from Knockhill and is looking forward to visiting her home circuit. She made her rallying debut co-driving for her uncle Tom in his Metro 6r4 at Knockhill and has both won her class and rolled her Fiesta at the circuit in the past. Ashleigh excited to be on the entry list alongside such big names from the world of rallying.

Reigning Scottish Junior Champion and “If in Doubt, Flat Out” award winner Johnnie Mackay began his rallying career in the Ecosse J1000 Challenge competing on events very similar to the McRae. Although he says he will be taking it easy, co-driver Michael Cruickshank has said he’s not making the trip to Knockhill to go slowly….

Graeme Sherry & Ewan Lees will be out in the Impreza they took to the 2021 Scottish Group N title. They will definitely be trying hard to put on a show while keeping an eye on Jock Gray who is out in his regular Opel Manta. Graeme is also the owner of an ex-Colin McRae Focus WRC, hopefully he’ll bring that along for the crowds to see.

Thomas Johnstone & Mark Runciman are out in the J1000 spec Citigo that Lewis Haining took to the Ecosse Challenge title. Thomas is a very talented multi disciplined sportsman and has been putting on giant killing performances against the bigger cars all year in the Skoda. With family connections to Jackie Stewart and a relationship with Prodrive Thomas is definitely an up and comer in the world of rallying.

There’s lots of talent on show at the McRae Rally Challenge – come and watch it all from trackside. Tickets can be booked online and will also be available on the gate throughout the weekend.

Book Tickets Here