The Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally has attracted a world-class entry ahead of this weekend’s event [26-28 May] as around 240 drivers get set to tackle the highly acclaimed three-day closed road motorsport event.
Heralded as one of the most popular stage rallies in the UK, the Jim Clark Rally has taken place for almost fifty years and continues to attract leading drivers to the Scottish Borders and the closed public roads in Berwickshire.
And this year will be no exception, as stars from across the world head for the market town of Duns to tackle the top-drawer event, competing across some of the most iconic stages in the country in a bid for the coveted rally win.
Sponsored by leading construction merchants Beatson’s Building Supplies, the rally returns with a slightly adapted format for 2023, with the three days and almost 110 miles of competitive driving split into the now traditional two-event structure. Using classic tests from previous editions, the event remains fresh and exciting with many stages being moved to alternative days.
The top-flight Motorsport UK British Rally Championship returns to the fold for the Friday and Saturday legs, with fans enjoying a glimpse into the pace of the UK’s premier rally series, as well as the Protyre National Asphalt Rally Championship and a host of regional championships.
The KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship contenders will tackle Sunday’s Reivers Rally with a bumper entry list bolstered by an impressive list of popular local rally championships.
The traditional rally base in Duns town hosts the Rally HQ and service areas, and the Market Square in the centre will see the Ceremonial Rally Starts and Finishes take place on the famous cobbles. In a repeat of 2022, crews will be flagged away from the town on Friday at 19:00 with two passes of the Longformacus stage ahead of them, the latter of which will be under the cover of darkness.
However, day two sees a switch to stages in the northeast, with Fogo, Ayton and Edrom being run twice throughout the day before the fan-favourite ceremonial finish, presentations and champagne spray celebrations back in Duns, set to take place from 13:45.
Sunday’s Reivers event is a shorter day but no less impressive and once again enjoys a ceremonial start at 10:00 from Duns and heads southwest for the popular Eccles, Westruther and Scott’s View tests being run twice throughout the day, before the finish celebrations from 16:00.
Steeped in history, the Jim Clark Rally first ran in 1970 with names on the winner’s trophy including Roger Clark and Ari Vatanen, so there is no doubt the race to etch a new name alongside rallying royalty will be an intense one.
Leading the field away is Frenchman and World Rally Championship driver Adrien Fourmaux who is dovetailing a British Rally Championship campaign with his WRC commitments.
The M-Sport Ford factory driver took victory at the opening round of the BRC in March but will be visiting the Scottish Borders for the very first time in a bid to gain additional seat time behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta Rally2 and will be joined by Alexandre Coria in the co-drivers seat.
They will have last year’s Jim Clark Rally winners Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin breathing down their necks however as they return in their Volkswagen Polo GTi R5. The breathtaking performance in 2022 underlined their asphalt pace and a repeat victory would also assist the Irishman’s quest for a fifth BRC title.
Callum Black and Jack Morton are fresh from a Manx National win in their Fiesta Rally2 so head to Scotland on form. They also lead the National Asphalt crews away and will aim to score well in both championships. Also in a Fiesta Rally2, are James Williams and Dai Roberts who will be using the Ford on asphalt for the first time this season. They took second place in the event in 2022 so will be one to watch in new machinery.
Elliot Payne and Tom Woodburn round out the top five seeds, also using a Fiesta Rally2 and managed fifth pace here last season on only Payne’s second-ever asphalt event at the time.
The Scottish flags will be flying for a swathe of home – heroes as several Duns drivers set out their stall to take a coveted home win. Leading them away is Garry Pearson who has made a switch to a Polo R5 for the remainder of his BRC campaign. He took third last year and could now have the machinery to challenge up front. The experienced Dan Barritt will co-drive.
Local ace Euan Thorburn took the Reivers Rally win last year but this time around, he will tackle both events in his Ford Focus WRC. With Paul Beaton alongside, it’s been 12 months since his last outing but don’t underestimate the Duns man in the lanes. Another Duns driver Dale Robertson makes his annual outing and has Keir Beaton on the notes and are piloting a Fiesta Rally2.
Multiple Scottish Rally Champion David Bogie brings the noise with his Ford Escort MKII and is front-running two-wheel drive with Kevin Rae alongside.
One of the most famous family names in rallying will also be represented during the weekend, with Max McRae, son of 1995 British Champion Alister contesting the event. The Australian driver will be fresh from his FIA European Rally Championship debut in Poland and will give the Opel Corsa Rally4 its UK maiden outing in the process.
Sunday’s Reivers Rally sees the Scottish Rally Championship join the lineup and will be headed by Thorburn who will be aiming for the double in his Focus. Pearson will also be looking for a clean sweep as he re-joins for the event, as will 2011 rally winner Bogie. An impressive top ten also includes SRC leader Jock Armstrong and Hannah McKillop in a Subaru Impreza, as well as Cornhill’s Michael Binnie in his Mitsubishi with Duns co-driver Claire Mole alongside.
Spectators will be well catered for across the rally weekend with plenty of opportunities to catch the action on the stages and get up close to the stars and cars during event formalities.
Duns will be a hive of activity during the rally weekend with commentary by Knockhill’s Duncan Vincent and a big screen showing the action from the stages and cars will never be far away during the rally.
Spectator access to watch the action is available on many stages in the rally, with full information available on the rally website and in programmes which are available throughout the town of Duns during the rally week.