Battle for BRCC asphalt supremacy begins The third round of the Dulux Trade British Rally Championship's support series, the BRC Challenge, heads north of the border to the long established Jim Clark Rally over the May bank holiday ...
Battle for BRCC asphalt supremacy begins
The third round of the Dulux Trade British Rally Championship's support series, the BRC Challenge, heads north of the border to the long established Jim Clark Rally over the May bank holiday weekend.
Current championship leaders Julian Wilkes and Will Rutherford in their Vauxhall Nova will be out looking for a hat-trick of wins this season, the Somerset outfit holding a nine point advantage over Chris Peart and Jamie Forrest going into the Jim Clark, with Callum Black and Paul Wakely just one point behind them.
With two wins out of two for Wilkes on gravel this year and his favourite tarmac surface in prospect, the battle will be truly joined in Duns, but his likely combatants at the front will be last year's event winners Richard Archer and Tom Ward.
Even without Archer, who returns with his awesome Vauxhall Corsa after missing the first two events, Wilkes hasn't had it all his own way and has been pushed hard by several other drivers. One of these is Burton Pidsea's Chris Peart who took fastest stage times away from Wilkes in Kielder. Rumour had it that Peart was set to use his tarmac special Corsa on the Jim Clark, hoping to claw Championship points away from Wilkes, but as the entries closed, his trusty Astra was still listed.
Callum Black's consistency over the two events so far could also prove vital as the MG ZR driver hopes to counter Chris Peart's progression and scupper Wilkes' title ambitions.
These four will be chased by a bevy of Ford Fiesta drivers and two quick Clios, also looking to be top dog on the black stuff. The nimble Fords have provided a close season so far in the UK Fiesta SportChallenge, with Jonathan Cunningham and Damien Smith taking turns at victory. But with John Pritchard nestled between them in the overall points tally, it looks to be a fierce battle that could put them in contention for the rally itself.
Renault Clio driver Simon Moore will be looking for much better luck this time round having broken a driveshaft on the start of the Pirelli Rally. Moore, having already had a class win on the Border Counties event earlier in the season, will be threat here if he can overcome his mechanical issues.
Another driver hoping for better luck in Scotland is the Welsh 17 year old Osian Price who failed to finish in Cumbria. The Fiesta youngster only passed his driving test a couple of days before the first round in Welshpool and this will be his first outing on asphalt, a real test of his driving skills.
Wilkes has form on the Scottish roads with a good point finish here last year alongside Brett Griffin in his RC2 class Peugeot 106 GTI. But with the top five separated by just 19 points and a possible 30 points on offer for a rally victory, the BRC Challenge is still wide open.
The Scottish round of the Championship is the first time this year that the drivers will encounter an asphalt surface on the tricky Scottish Borders stages. The event, named in honour of twice crowned Formula 1 World Champion Jim Clark, celebrates its 40th year in 2010 and while it has not always been an asphalt event, it is currently the only closed road event on mainland Britain.
So with a championship at stake and that sort of heritage, you can expect fast and frenetic action along the country roads that make up the Jim Clark Rally and round three of the BRC Challenge.
The event takes place over the Friday and Saturday of 28-29th May, with rally HQ and service area based at the nearby Kelso racecourse. The ceremonial start for the main International event is in Duns Market Square at 18:00 on Friday, the Jim Clark Challenge Rally starting the Duns stage behind the Internationals at around 20:20. The outcome of round three of the BRC Challenge will be revealed after 65 miles of competition at the finish in Duns at around 14:30 on Saturday.