Cronin takes the Jim Clark Rally spoils as Thorburn reigns at the Reivers

The Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally lived up to its reputation as one of the finest stage rallies in the UK as a thrilling weekend of motorsport action unfolded on the closed public roads near Duns [May 24-26].

Named in memory of two-time Formula 1 world champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Jim Clark, the Scottish Borders-based event has been running for years, regularly thrilling competitors and onlookers alike, and 2024 was no exception boasting the most crews, most stages and the most competitive miles of the last decade.

Based in the market town of Duns – which entertained spectators all-weekend long with start and finish ceremonies, regroups and live action broadcast on big screens – 21 demanding tests were staged throughout Friday and Saturday’s Jim Clark Rally and Sunday’s Jim Clark Reivers Rally, with a world-class entry of 270 cars testing their mettle against the clock.

Sponsored for a third year by leading construction merchants Beatson’s Building Supplies, the Jim Clark welcomed thousands of spectators who watched crews from the Probite Motorsport UK British Rally Championship, Protyre Asphalt Rally Championship and Asset Alliance Group Scottish Rally Championship, as well as several regional championships, slug it out for glory.

Running as the first car for the main two-day event, 2019 European Rally Champion Chris Ingram and his co-driver Alex Kihurani were quickest out the blocks on Friday evening, but the going was far from straightforward as rain on the lead up to the event, and showers throughout the first leg, ensured the stages were particularly demanding.

Four-time British Rally Champion Keith Cronin was the only man capable of keeping Ingram honest, as he and co-driver Mikie Galvin recovered from a conservative tyre choice on the first loop of stages to close to within 10s at the rally’s overnight halt.

Sunny skies greeted the region on Saturday with a red-hot battle set to commence, but Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 pilot Ingram ran wide due to a slow puncture on the day’s second stage, clipped a tree and broke his suspension – ending his victory hopes on the spot.

That left Cronin out front, and after a difficult start to his campaign in the British Championship the Irishman got the job done on the Borders lanes to record a 19.1-second victory over Junior World Rally Champion William Creighton. Cronin’s win moves him to the top of the Jim Clark Rally winners’ list with fellow Irish driver Andrew Nesbitt.

“It’s been a really long time coming,” said a relieved Cronin. “This win gives us a fighting chance again, but it’s still a long championship.

“I really didn’t think this would be possible after the first loop last night as we’d made a wrong tyre choice, but we went out on the wet tyres for the last two last night and made some real good time back.

“It didn’t feel like we were doing anything extra special, but everything was working really well in the car. It was unfortunate to lose Chris this morning, which left us the lead which we’ve had to manage. “

Euan Thorburn upheld local honour in his VW Polo, lifting his pace as the event progressed to secure a terrific third place finish – his second in as many years. The Duns driver was also fastest on the final stage alongside co-driver Paul Beaton.

There was more Duns delight as Garry Pearson and co-driver Daniel Barritt stood on the British championship podium in third place, securing sixth place overall to boot after a mature drive in his Ford Fiesta Rally2.

Max McRae, the latest talent from the McRae family dynasty, had never driven a Rally2 car at night before the Jim Clark, and was low on mileage compared to his rivals around him. But the 19-year-old demonstrated why he’s set to be Scotland’s big rallying talent of the future with a measured run to seventh place overall and fourth place in the BRC.

Top Asphalt championship points were awarded to James Ford/Neil Shanks in their Citroen C3 Rally2 (fourth overall), closely followed by Callum Black/Jack Morton (fifth overall) and David Henderson/Chris Lees (seventh overall).

Sunday’s Reivers Rally staged the second round of this year’s Scottish Rally Championship, as crews tackled the reworked Westruther stage three times along with two passes of the famed Scott’s View and Eccles tests. But persisting rain showers made life very testing for the competing crews.

Victors last year and out to make it a record-equalling four Reivers Rally wins, Thorburn and Beaton rekindled their fight with Henderson and co-driver Chris Williams from a year ago, trading seconds with each passing stage.

Henderson held the advantage into the afternoon but Thorburn was closing, only for the pair of them to make separate mistakes on the penultimate stage which grew Henderson’s lead to 8.9.

But a simply supreme stage time on the final stage from home hero Thorburn, some 12.9s quicker than Henderson, earned him a record-equalling fourth Reivers win.

“This feels really good,” said a delighted Thorburn.

“I had nothing left, that was all on the line on that last stage. We had a few moments, but we knew we had it in us to pull it off.

“We really wanted to win this one, and after the podium yesterday it’s been the perfect weekend.”

Neil Roskell/Patrick Walsh guided their Fiesta Rally2 to third on the event, while Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry took third in the Scottish Championship and fourth overall.

A one-hour highlights show of the Jim Clark Rally will be broadcast on ITV4, first televised on Wednesday June 5 at 8pm. A repeat programme will be shown on Sunday June 9 at 7.55am, and available to view anytime on the ITVX streaming service.

Scottish Borders brace for best-ever Jim Clark Rally

The 2024 Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally [May 24-26] promises to be the best in over a decade with more stages, more cars and world-class drivers tackling the famous closed-road event.

Hailed as one of the best stage rallies anywhere in the United Kingdom, the Jim Clark Rally has been a staple of the national motorsport calendar for over 50 years with 2024 set to be no exception as, across the weekend, the event welcomes the very best drivers from the Probite Motorsport UK British Rally Championship, Protyre Asphalt Rally Championship and Asset Alliance Group Scottish Rally Championship.

Sponsored by leading construction merchants Beatson’s Building Supplies for the third successive year, the rally is once again based in the market town of Duns for all three days of spectacular action, but the organisers have upped the ante for this year’s closed-road spectacular.

Catering for an extra 20 crews, 140 cars will take Friday evening’s Ceremonial Start on Duns at 18:00 before tackling six daunting stages in the moorlands and lanes around the town. Making its return is the popular Langton Mill test and its famous water-splash, forming part of a new three-stage loop which will be repeated as the sun begins to set over the Scottish Borders.

Saturday’s itinerary is largely unchanged from previous years, but another two passes of the Langton Mill stage help create a demanding schedule of eight stages which includes the likes of classic Jim Clark tests Ayton and Fogo. The winner of the 86-mile event will be crowned at the Duns Ceremonial Finish at 14:16.

Sunday’s Reivers Rally is a meatier affair than the past with 58 miles of action split across seven stages with just one service halt back at Duns in the middle. The reworked Westruther stage starts and ends the day which also includes two visits to the beautiful vistas of Scott’s View. The event starts and finishes in Duns at 09:30 and 15:54 respectively.

With last year’s winner Adrien Fourmaux fully focused on his World Rally Championship programme with M-Sport Ford, 2019 European Rally champion Chris Ingram and co-driver Alex Kihurani will lead the field away in their Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. A proven pairing on asphalt with victory on the opening round of the British championship, Ingram returns to tackle the Jim Clark for the first time since 2013 when he drove a Renault Twingo R2.

One driver who has far more Jim Clark experience is Keith Cronin, who will line up as the second seed alongside co-driver Mikie Galvin in his Ford Fiesta Rally2. Cronin won the event as recently as 2022 and was the only one to challenge Fourmaux last year, so is a certain contender for a record-equalling third Jim Clark victory this time around.

Both however will face stern competition from the Fiestas of 2022 British Rally Champion Osian Pryce and 2023 Junior World Rally Champion William Creighton. Pryce arrives in Duns in red-hot form having won the most recent round of the British championship, while Creighton – who’s been second on both BRC events thus far – is match-fit from the latest world championship round in Portugal.

Meirion Evans brings the fan favourite Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 to the party, while recent Manx Rally winner James Williams represents Hyundai. Williams will compete for both British and National Asphalt championship points in his i20, fending off competition from the likes of 2023 champion Callum Black (Fiesta), Neil Roskell (Fiesta), Mark Kelly (Skoda Fabia R5) and James Ford (Citroen C3 Rally2).

Fighting to uphold local honour are a trio of Duns drivers – Euan Thorburn, Garry Pearson and Dale Robertson – in state-of-the-art Rally2 cars. Volkswagen pilot Thorburn would appear best positioned to become the first Scottish Jim Clark winner since 2011 thanks to his overall podium last season, but Pearson too is a former Jim Clark podium finisher and will compete in the very latest Fiesta Rally2, run by the factory M-Sport outfit.

Robertson is also Fiesta mounted, and welcomes Kelso co-driver Douglas Redpath into the navigators’ seat, 40 years since Redpath won the Jim Clark alongside Dominic Buckley Snr. Robertson is always fast on his local lanes but is down on seat time compared to his direct rivals as he hasn’t competed since the Jim Clark last year.

Also flying the flag for Scotland is Max McRae – the latest talent from the world-famous McRae rallying dynasty. Co-driven by Cameron Fair, the 19-year-old is already a winner in the Junior European Rally Championship this year and showed well on his Rally2 debut in the BRC back in March. Like Pearson, McRae is armed with an M-Sport Fiesta with hopes to fare better than last year when he retired on the opening stage with mechanical gremlins.

The Reivers Rally has attracted a similarly stunning entry, with 2023 winner Thorburn aiming to draw level with old foe David Bogie as the event’s most successful driver in history.

But the Polo pilot will be pushed hard by David Henderson (Fiesta Rally2), who came just 3.2 seconds away from beating Thorburn 12 months ago. Asphalt aces Kelly and Roskell will do battle with the very best from the Scottish championship, including Rory Young (Polo R5), Michael Binnie (Fiesta R5), Jock Armstrong (Skodaru) and Bogie (Ford Escort Mk2).

Spectators will have plenty of opportunities to watch the battles unfold with access to an array of stages, while Duns will be a hub of activity with a mid-day regroup on both Saturday and Sunday as well as the start and finish ceremonies, as well as a big screen in the town broadcasting live action from the stages.

Full spectator information is available on the Jim Clark Rally website HERE where the entry lists for both events can also be viewed.


Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally bags a bumper entry

The Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally has received a sensational response to the 24-26 May event, with around 270 cars expected to tackle the three-day closed road event in the Scottish Borders.

Both the Jim Clark Rally [24/25 May] and the Reivers Rally [26 May] have reached a capacity entry, with event organisers making an application to the sport’s governing body Motorsport UK to extend the number of cars able to compete.

Thanks to this being granted, the popular Jim Clark Rally will now see around 140 cars tackle the two-day event, with Sunday’s Reivers Rally enjoying 130 contenders who will head for the Duns-based event to tackle some of the finest closed roads in the country.

This year’s Jim Clark Rally has seen a reinvigorated format, with an extended Friday night route offering an additional challenge for some of the best drivers in the business. The addition of the fan-favourite Langton stage and famous Watersplash, plus an extended leg under the cover of darkness has meant that entries have reached capacity, with a reserve list now being created.

In addition, the Reivers Rally route has also been revised, with a longer day set to round off the spectacular motorsport weekend in style.

Dan Wright, Chairman of rally organisers the Jim Clark Memorial Motor Club, is delighted with the reaction to this year’s refreshed event.

“The response to entries opening has been fantastic,” he says.

“Entries for both the Jim Clark Rally and the Reivers Rally were filled within 24 hours with a substantial reserve list even though we increased the number of competitors this year. This confirms the popularity of closed-road rallying and the Jim Clark Rally events in particular. We never take our popularity for granted and are always striving to give competitors and the public something fresh every year. We will be thrilled to welcome everyone to Duns later this month.”

Sponsored by leading construction materials provider Beatson’s Building Supplies, the Jim Clark Rally gets underway on Friday 24 May from Duns Square, before a double run over stages in Langton, Abbey St Bathans, and Blackadder.

Saturday includes Langton once again, with the addition of Edrom, Ayton and Fogo ahead of the ceremonial finish back in Duns. Crews from the Probite British Rally Championship, Protyre National Asphalt Rally Championship, Burnside Piling Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship, AS Performance North of England Tarmacadam Rally Championship, SG Petch ANECCC Championship, and the Armed Forces series will contest the two-day blast.

Sunday’s Reivers Rally also starts from the Duns Town Centre, with stages in Westruther, run three times and a double run over Scott’s View and Eccles before the Duns finish celebrations and sees the Asset Alliance Group Scottish Rally Championship join the proceedings.

Spectator Information for the rally will be released in the coming weeks.