Ford had three reasons to celebrate in Scotland today (Saturday) when Martin Rowe drove his Rapid Fit Puma Super 1600 rally car to victory on The Formula Jim Clark Rally. It was Ford's fourth UK rally win of 2001 -- securing the Formula Rally manufacturers' championship -- and moves Rowe back to the top of the driver's championship points table. With one round of the series to run, Ford drivers hold first, third and fourth places in the drivers' title battle.
"This has been a fantastic event which I've really enjoyed," enthused the super-fit 29-year old from Northants. "The stages were very fast and challenging, flat out in lots of places, in 5th and 6th gear on the rev-limiter at well over 100 mph. Exciting stuff for the drivers, spectators and TV viewers. The stages here have everything and you need a car with good all-round abilities. The Puma ran faultlessly and I'm very pleased to claim this fourth victory for Ford.
"Early this morning the stages were very slippery, after a heavy dew and with the sun only getting through to some sections of the road. Later the surfaces were consistently good but I picked tyres which were too soft for stages 8, 9 and 10 and lost time before switching to a harder Pirelli for the final three stages. The fight with Higgins was really close, but I was confident that we could claw our way back into the lead. Winning such a close struggle is very satisfying."
The Formula Jim Clark Rally began under a full moon with a 15-mile stage on Friday night and restarted under a still-visible moon on a crisp but sunny Saturday morning from the town of Duns -- home to the Jim Clark museum. It was a rally of two halves, with three stages towards Berwick visited twice in the morning and three stages near Duns tackled twice in the afternoon.
After six stages, Rowe led by 11 seconds and both Peugeots had retired with broken driveshafts. Opting for softer tyres on the Puma for the first three stages after lunch proved a mistake and David Higgins established a three seconds lead as the cars pulled into the final service before the three stages that were to decide the outcome of the event. On stage 11 Rowe cut the deficit to just a single second and over the next two he powered away to win by half a minute.
Engineering Manager at Ford Racing, Philip Dunabin was delighted to score Ford's fourth victory in six outings and clinch the manufacturers' title. "This is a great result for the team reflecting the huge effort made by everyone at Ford Racing. It was a mature drive by Martin to withstand a lot of pressure, and fight back to win this event. His great drive has secured the crown for Ford and puts him back into the lead of the drivers' championship. Next Saturday in Banbury we'll be pushing hard to make it two titles in one week, as we are still determined to win both the Formula Rally titles this year."
RESULTS -- THE FORMULA JIM CLARK MEMORIAL RALLY Formula Rally Championship - Round 6, 3 November 2001
1 Martin Rowe /C Woods Ford Puma 1hr 39min 59.4sec
2 David Higgins /M Gibson VW Polo 1hr 40min 30.2sec
3 Patrick Magaud /G Brun Ford Puma 1hr 41min 50.6sec
4 Simon Mauger /A Street Proton Satria 1hr 44min 08.4sec
5 Max McKillan /N Beech Citroen Saxo 1hr 44min 15.0sec
6 Mats Andersson /C Mole Proton Satria 1hr 45min 29.3sec
Championship Positions ( after round 6 of 7* )
1 Martin Rowe 40 pts
2 Justin Dale 38 points
3 Patrick Magaud 15 pts
4 Francois Duval 14 pts
5 Martin Sansom & Mats Andersson & Simon Mauger 9 pts
8 David Higgins 7 pts
9 Henderson 4 pts
10 Michael Brew 3 pts
11 Garry Jennings & Paul Wedgbury 2 pts
12 Rory Galligan 1 pt
1 Ford 95 points
2 Peugeot 85 pts
3 Proton 45 pts
4 Volkswagen 33 pts.
* at end of season, only 5 best scores to count towards points total
The Prodrive Banbury Rally, Banbury, Oxfordshire, 10 November.