Binnie shocked himself after winning his first rally at Coogie Urquhart Snowman Rally in Inverness
Get the Inverness Courier sent to your inbox every week and swipe through an exact replica of the day's newspaper
MICHAEL Binnie says he was as surprised as anyone being crowned champion at the Coogie Urquhart Snowman Rally.
The 27-year-old recorded a shock victory as the fifth seed claimed his first title in the Scottish Rally Championship in Inverness.
Driving in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 with Kelso co-driver Claire Mole, the Cornhill-on-Tweed driver took the title by 20 seconds from number one seed Jock Armstrong winning in 45 minutes and 33 seconds.
Armstrong in his Subaru Impreza was leading for the majority for the race and by 17 seconds ahead going into the final stage.
But a flying final stage from Binnie saw him steal 37 seconds on Armstrong to take his first rally title.
“I think I’m as surprised as anybody,” said Binnie after winning the rally.
“We were sat in a comfortable second place all day and we had a blinding last stage and managed to take the win.
“In the back of my mind I thought if we can get a podium that would be great.
“But I don’t like to set my hopes too high.
“That would’ve been brilliant for us, but this is a wild feeling.
“You should never, ever give up as you don’t know what might happen at the end and we have proved that.”
Armstrong from Castle Douglas was celebrating his 30th anniversary competing in the rally.
But he was at a loss at how he drove on the final stage.
“There was a young man who pipped me by quite a bit on the final stage,” he said.
“Whether it was down to daydreaming or something else I don’t know.
“I felt I was comfortable on the last stage.
“The first two stages were the worst to drive in, but the conditions got better as the day went on.
“We were quickest in the second, third and fourth stages but lost a bit of time in the last stage.
“We need to investigate what happened.”
Number three seed Freddie Milne from Aberdeen finished third in 45:56 driving a Ford Fiesta R5.
“The Snowman Rally is always a lottery and we got held up on the final stage,” said Milne.
“We came out of the final stage doing terribly and its funny we still ended up on the podium.
“We came out of the last stage thinking we would end up 10th so we are pleased.”
Inverness driver Donnie Macdonald and co-driver Andrew Falconer finished in fourth place in 46:07.