A SCOTTISH title win can put Paul Beaton and Euan Thorburn back on track to make a name for themselves in the world of rallying.
Inverness co-driver Beaton admits that the last few years have not gone anywhere near to plan for himself and Thorburn, but bringing home the Socttish Rally Championship would go some way towards rectifiying that.
A win at the Grampian Stages this weekend would hand the title to Beaton and Thorburn, giving them their second Scottish win three years after their first.
With that comes qualification to Rally GB in Wales, which is the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship.
The next goal is to get back into the British championship and get more sponsors on board, which again has held them back.
Beaton and Thorburn, from Duns, are 10 points clear of last year’s champions Jock Armstrong and Paula Swinscoe, who are likely to be their main competitors in Aberdeen.
However, the addition of old nemesis David Bogie, who they pipped to the title in 2014, to the field, will add a bit of spice to the occasion.
Also joining the field is Paul Bird, who is making his comeback to motorsport after serving a two-year ban for a failed drugs test in July 2015.
It sets it up nicely for Beaton and Thorburn, with a win in their comeback season in the championship enough to get their careers off the ground again.
“We started off not expecting much and were just going to use the Scottish championship as a testing ground for the car,” said Beaton. “But we felt it gradually get better and we can tell we’re making strides forward with the car.
“We’re not where we want to be but that’s always going to take time. It’s worked in our favour and any publicity that comes off winning is good publicity.
“Hopefully that bodes will in terms of getting more sponsors on board.”
Beaton, an electrician with IRN Security, readily admits the pair have dropped the ball as far as pushing for sponsors is concerned.
They managed half a season in the British Rally Championship last season before having to pull out due to costs.
Winning the Scottish title and capitalising on a buzz around their performances is a must this time.
“Now is the time to start looking, now we’re in a good position in the Scottish,” said Beaton. “We need to start pushing ourselves and promoting a bit more. We used to be one of the best on social media but we let it slip.
“We kind of took a back seat with it until we got up to speed with the car and until we felt we had something to offer.
“I’m trying to enjoy it a bit more than 2014. We had a good battle with David Bogie and managed to get the better of him. Not many are able to do that.
“It was always a good rivalry and he’s gone on to get to grips with the R5 car and he’s doing the British championship. We’ve taken a bit of a back seat and not done as much as we would have liked. But he’s the benchmark of where we would like to get to.”
The duo had hoped to enter three rounds of the World Rally Championship this year, with a view to relaunching a bid for the British championship next year.
Beaton set the target of being on pace with the leading cars in the British, something he feels they are on course for.
They missed out on returning to the Ypres Rally in Belgium, as it coincided with the Argyll Rally, which they took by four seconds to strengthen their position at the top of the leaderboard.
“That’s the kind of level we want to be at but finances won’t stretch that far,” said Beaton. “The next level down is the British, which is about the same speed as the guys in WRC2 are competing at.
“But the next step for us is the British and we can take it from there.”
Donnie MacDonald and Andrew Falconer return to SRC action in their Fiesta R5 after missing the Argyll Rally due to the clashing Ypres Rally, with five-time SRC champion Bogie also returning to the series in his Skoda Fabia R5.
Culloden Car Sales owner MacDonald sits just inside the championship top 10, with a good points-haul this weekend good enough to close the gap on Simon Hay in seventh.
In the two-wheel drive section, Kiltarlity-born Dougal Brown can take a huge step towards the title by winning his section.
Brown shares the lead with Michael Stuart and a win, ahead of the final race in Galloway Hills next month, will give him a huge advantage as the championship draws to a close.