Saturday’s Grampian Forest Rally based near Banchory, west of Aberdeen, sees the 2022 British Rally Championship reach it’s half-way point, and for series leaders, Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin, the 900 kilometre trip from their respective Ballylickey and Killarney bases marks the longest journey of the season. They currently hold an eleven point advantage at the head of the standings ahead of Welshman, Osian Pryce, who is also partnered by a Killarney co-driver, Noel O’Sullivan. There has been little to choose between the crews on pace so far this season, and both are equipped with similar examples of the Volkswagen Polo GTi. Pryce has secured two wins, while Cronin recorded victory on the BRC’s last foray to Scotland in May, and has two second places.
The Grampian may be a long way from home for many of the BRC regulars, but the rally itself will be short and sharp, consisting of six stages in the Durris, Fetteresso and Drumtochty forests, totalling 43 competitive miles. Having been forced to run the behind closed doors twelve months ago, the organisers, Stonehaven and District Motor Club, are welcoming spectators back for the 2022 edition, and will provide dedicated viewing points on the stages. There will be additional opportunities to view the cars at the Ceremonial Start in Banchory on Saturday morning, while the victory celebrations will take place at nearby Milton of Crathes from around 4.15pm.
Speaking at a pre-event test in Ireland, Cronin emphasised the importance of the Grampian to the eventual outcome of the 2022 BRC: “This phase of the championship will be crucial to the final reckoning at the end of the year,” said Cronin, who is chasing a record-equalling fifth British title. “Osian and Noel have two maximum scores from the two rounds they finished, we have one maximum from the win on the Jim Clark Rally and two seconds. The best five out of seven results count, so dropped scores will come into play soon. I know we’re ahead at the moment, but in reality it’s not as quite as healthy as it looks, we need to be finishing the rallies in front of them”.
Pryce and O’Sullivan are seeded at Number 1, followed by Cronin and Galvin at 2. Former British championship contender, David Bogie, is seeded at three, and will be endeavouring to uphold Scots honour in his Ford Fiesta Rally 2. “I expect David to go very well on Saturday”, said Cronin. “He isn’t registered for the BRC on this occasion, so if he’s ahead I don’t intend to get into a battle with him, I’ll be prioritising points. When we did the BRC last year, things didn’t really gel for us overall, but the Grampian was actually our best result of the season, so I’m obviously hoping things will go well again this time”.
Elliot Payne/Patrick Walsh and Garry Pearson/Dale Furniss complete the top five seeds in Ford Fiestas, with the latter crew also chasing host nation honours.
The first stage of the Grampian Forest Rally will commence just before 9.30am.
Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin are supported in the British Rally Championship by M O’Brien Group of Companies, Keohane Seafoods, Inver Energy, Cremin Coaches, Cronin’s HomeValue Hardware, Cronin’s Centra (Ballylickey, Leap and Union Hall) and Pirelli Tyres.
2022 Grampian Rally – FCD Timetable
Saturday 13th August, 2022
Start Banchory 09:01
SS1 Durris 09:29
SS2 Drumtochty 10:05
Service Milton of Crathes 11:20 – In
12:00 – Out
SS3 Finglenny 12:32
SS4 Scare Hill 13:01
Service Milton of Crathes 14:16 – In
14:56 – Out
SS5 Strathgyle Wood 15:17
SS6 Hurlie Bog 15:41
Finish Milton of Crathes 16:19
2022 Nicky Grist Rally – Top Ten Seeds
No. Driver/Co-Driver Car
- Osian Pryce/Noel O’Sullivan Volkswagen Polo GTI R5
- Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin Volkswagen Polo GTI R5
- David Bogie/John Rowan Ford Fiesta Rally 2
- Elliot Payne/Patrick Walsh Ford Fiesta Rally 2
- Garry Pearson/Dale Furniss Ford Fiesta Rally 2
- David Henderson/Chris Lees Ford Fiesta Rally 2
- Michael Binnie/Claire Mole Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
- James Williams/Dai Roberts Hyundai i20 R5
- Jason Tauber Pritchard/Phil Clarke Volkswagen Polo R5
- Jock Armstrong/Cameron Fair Subaru Impreza
2022 British Rally Championship Points
Drivers: Keith Cronin, 61; Osian Pryce, 50; James Williams, 33; Garry Pearson, 30; Elliot Payne, 22; Jason Pritchard, 21.
Co-Drivers: Mikie Galvin, 61; Noel O’Sullivan, 50; Dai Roberts, 33; Dale Furniss, 27; Phil Clarke, 21; Conor Mohan, 16.
Photo: Jakob Ebrey Motorsport Photography.