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Paul Beaton hopes family and friendly rivalries can spark Snowman Rally performance

By Jamie Durent

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Paul Beaton with the trophy he won at the Snowman Rally earlier this year. Picture: Andrew Smith.
Paul Beaton with the trophy he won at the Snowman Rally earlier this year. Picture: Andrew Smith.

PAUL Beaton is looking forward to renewing old rivalries when he returnsto racing at the Snowman Rally this weekend.

Alongside Euan Thorburn, Beaton will be locking horns with fellowInvernessian Donnie MacDonald and David Bogie, who jostled with Beatonand Thorburn for supremacy in the Scottish Rally Championship for anumber of years.

Add into the mix Beaton’s brother Keir co-driving for Reay Mackay, thenthe Drakies-based electrician does not have to look far for those tryingto get one over on him.

Thorburn and Beaton won this race in 2014, which acts as the opener forthe 2017 Scottish season. In that same year, they ended Bogie’sfive-year reign as national champion and had numerous hotly-contestedraces.

MacDonald is the reigning Snowman champion on home turf and a goodfriend of Beaton’s, who also has a new Fiesta to test out. With siblingrivalry to consider too, it will be an eventful homecoming for Beaton.

“The rivalry has already started with my brother – maybe I should beathim up before the race!” said Beaton.

“He’s more of a frustrated driver than a co-driver and I think he’d muchprefer to be in the driver’s seat. I navigated for him for rally and wecrashed about 10 times, so that was the end of that magical partnership.

“It’s good to see Donnie in car one; I don’t want to push him too hardso he can keep his car on the road and enjoy his weekend!

“David has done a shed-load of mileage in his car compared to us, so Idon’t think we’ll be on his pace.

“But it certainly won’t be for a lack of trying. He’ll be our benchmark.

“There’s a lot of the usual suspects and when we do compete, they wantto beat us and push a little bit harder. We’ve not competed here for acouple of years so I’m sure the pace has moved up.”

Aside from Scottish championship contenders Jock Armstrong, the reigningchampion, Mike Faulkner and Rory Young, Beaton has also picked out anumber of younger drivers to keep an eye on.

Mackay and Scott Macbeth, in their Mitsbushi Evo’s, are getting to gripswith the four-wheel-drive systems and are two of the best up-and-comingdrivers on the circuit.

For co-driver Beaton, the Snowman is a chance to get some much-neededmileage in their new Ford Fiesta. They purchased it to replace theirunreliable Peugeot, which was beset with mechanical problems, but havestruggled to get competitive races under their belts.

A planned rally in Wales last weekend was cancelled after one stage dueto the weather, frustratingly cutting short some much-needed preparationtime.

“We’re trying to get back the speed we had and a bit of confidence,”said Beaton. “We’re just looking to get miles in and not expecting toset the world alight. Once we start we’ll be in competitive mode butit’s been so long since we have been.

“The organisers have done a fantastic job in getting it set up this yearand it will be nice to get out in front of a home crowd and sure thatwe’re still about.”

The duo entered the reformed British Rally Championship last year butcurtailed their season mid-way through due to a lack of budget. They arestill trying to find a main sponsor and for the meantime at least, willremain self-funded.

Beaton hopes to enter three rounds of the World Rally Championship –Portugal, Germany and GB – and re-assess their chances of having asecond crack at the British championship later in the year.

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