The Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally brought some of the best drivers in the business to the Scottish Borders this weekend [26-28 May], as the three-day motorsport event took place on the closed roads around Duns.
The market town offered a fantastic backdrop for the rally, hosting the event service area and the centre itself seeing the cars assemble for the start and finish celebrations throughout the weekend. A big screen played live coverage of the rally to the fans who were able to get up close to the cars as they passed through Market Square.
A top-class line up of contenders from across the world gathered to contest the highly regarded rally, with almost two hundred and forty crews tackling the closed public roads in Berwickshire on both the Jim Clark and Reivers events.
Sponsored once again by leading construction merchants Beatson’s Building Supplies, the Jim Clark Rally took place across Friday and Saturday, hosting Motorsport UK British Rally Championship [BRC] as well as the Protyre National Asphalt Rally Championship and several regional championships. Sunday saw the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship contenders join for the Reivers Rally.
The British Rally Championship attracted top-level crews and it was unsurprisingly a familiar name that secured the overall rally win. The Jim Clark Rally enjoyed its traditional format of two tests during Friday night and an action-packed evening saw World Rally Championship contenders Adrien Fourmaux and Alex Coria open up a twenty-eight second advantage by the time the sun dropped over the North Sea.
The all-French Ford Fiesta Rally2 crew, are regulars on the WRC tour and as M-Sport factory drivers, would be hard to bet against. That lead, over last year’s victors Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin would be more than enough to ensure they could manage their lead throughout Saturday’s stages, returning to the Duns town centre to spray the champagne as worthy winners.
“We can be really happy with that, and the car has been in a good position all weekend so yes, very happy,” said Fourmaux.
“We were really enjoying the rally; it was really technical and slippery in places. We had a really good day yesterday and then we could just enjoy the stages today.”
“I am really enjoying [the British Rally Championship] and it is very different being on the gravel and then the tarmac. It is really interesting.”
Cronin managed to salvage second place in his Volkswagen Polo R5 whilst the Duns honours were upheld by a flying Euan Thorburn who took third place in his similar machine and Paul Beaton alongside.
The battle outside the top three was intense and a gutsy driver from Citroen C3 Rally2 driver James Ford, saw him take maximum National Asphalt Championship points and fourth overall with Neil Shanks in the co-driver’s seat. David Henderson and Chris Lees rounded out the top five in their Fiesta Rally2.
Local hopes had rested with Garry Pearson thanks to his third overall last year on the event, but the Duns driver suffered a painful weekend behind the wheel. A brush with a bale on the opening stage of the rally rearranged the bodywork of the Volkswagen Polo before he sadly crashed out for good on the very next stage.
With Thorburn claiming the podium, it was Dale Robertson who was next best Duns driver home in eighth in his Fiesta Rally2, whilst St Boswell’s Ross Hunter took 13th in his Mitsubishi Evo and the all-Duns crew of Michael Binnie and Claire Mole took 14th spot in their similar machine.
On Sunday, attention turned to the Reivers Rally and the battle for the rally win enjoyed some familiar names. Thorburn secured a win here last year and once again was fastest on the opening stage, fresh from his podium place the day before. Henderson was his nearest challenger, and the two drivers enjoyed a tit-for-tat battle for victory throughout the day’s six tests.
It was Thorburn’s time on the second pass of the Westruther test which decided the outcome, and despite Henderson’s best efforts, could not catch the local ace as he stormed to back-to-back Reivers Rally wins. Henderson had some consolation in taking maximum Scottish Rally Championship points with second overall.
Hugh Brunton and Drew Sturrock secured the third and final podium place in third in their Skoda Fabia R5. Steeped in history, the Jim Clark Rally first ran in 1970 and has remained one of the most prestigious stage rallies in the country. Names on the winner’s trophy include Roger Clark and Ari Vatanen. The event is named after Jim Clark OBE who was a two-time Formula One Champion, a winner of the Indianapolis 500 and a host of saloon and touring car races and hailed from Chirnside.