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Huntly driver John Wink revs up for KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship return this weekend at Argyll Rally and a first tarmac run alongside Elgin's 63 Car Club's colleague Neil Shanks

By Craig Christie

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SIXTEEN months since his last rally, Elgin’s 63 Car Club driver John Wink is relishing a return to action tomorrow.

Back in action at the Argyll Rally will be 63 Car Club duo John Wink (left) and co-driiver Neil Shanks. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Back in action at the Argyll Rally will be 63 Car Club duo John Wink (left) and co-driiver Neil Shanks. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

The KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship turns on its ignition once again with the Argyll Rally, contested this weekend for the first time on tarmac.

It will be a first competitive effort on that surface for Huntly-based Wink, who teams up again with Elgin navigator Neil Shanks in his Hyundai i20 R5 for the event.

Their last event was the Snowman Rally on March 5 last year, and the whole rallying fraternity is eagerly anticipating being back on national duty.

“Everyone is just itching to get going,” Wink said.

“I think everybody just wants to see each other again. I know we have to be socially distanced and behave ourselves but it will just be fine to wave to your competitors across the paddock.

While it’s Wink’s first tarmac rally, co-driver Shanks has vast experience on the closed roads surface and that will be invaluable to the man behind the wheel.

“This is the first tarmac one I’ve ever done so I am a complete novice to that. We will just have to go down there and do our very best.

“Neil has a load of experience with tarmac rally in the UK and abroad so he will hopefully keep me on the straight and narrow, if you pardon the pun.

“We started together in July 2019 so we have only done something like six events together. But we’ve been on the podium at the Grampian and we won the Rally GB out of those six events so he is a massive asset to the team.”

The pair travelled to the Ministry of Defence training base at Dundrennan, Kirkcudbright, for a test run.

“It’s a good bit of closed road at the airfield and it’s where they do a stage of the Solway Coast Rally so we had a 50 mile test three weeks ago.

“That’s the first time we have driven the car in anger on tarmac set-up.

That last event at the Snowman Rally in 2020 saw Wink and Shanks take fifth place overall, and third in class, despite encountering some steering problems.

“We had to rebuild the steering rack, as on the last stage of the Snowman we lost the power steering so we had to repair that.”

Aberlour’s Michael Hendry teams up with regular driver Mark McCulloch, while Elgin’s Sean Donnelly navigates for Brian Watson (Kinneff) in an Escort Mk 2 and John Shepheard (Elgin) is co-driver alongside Tain’s Michael Renton.

Moray regulars Sandy and Ian Arbuthnott compete in a Focus 4WD.

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