However, the event was overshadowed by a serious accident involving spectators on the opening Durris stage. The stage was immediately cancelled and the 4WD competitors instructed to move on to the second stage, Fetteresso 1.
Triple Scottish champions Bogie and Rae threw down the gauntlet from the outset, blasting through the seven-miler in their Mitsubishi EVO 9, five seconds quicker than the Ford Focus WRC of Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton, who finished as runners-up.
Cumbrian Paul Benn, back behind the wheel of his Focus for the first time in more than a year, was third fastest – just one second ahead of Banchory’s Bruce McCombie in a Subaru Impreza, and Invernessian Donnie Macdonald in an EVO 9.
Bogie was three seconds quicker than Thorburn through SS3 Drumtochty, with another Banchory-based competitor, Quintin Milne, co-driven by Martin Forrest, third fastest, and pipping local rival McCombie by two seconds.
There was all to play for going into the final 13 miles of Fetteresso 2, but Thorburn’s challenge ended when he went off at a hairpin and finished the stage 23 seconds adrift of Bogie. The Dumfries driver had concerns of his own – wrong tyre-choice making cornering difficult on the loose gravel. However, he ending the day 33 seconds ahead of the Duns man.