The Toshiba Tarmac Rally Championship slips across the Irish Sea this weekend for its first-ever visit to Scotland -- to the Border region in fact, and the only rally run over closed public roads on the UK mainland --the Jim Clark Memorial. This...
The Toshiba Tarmac Rally Championship slips across the Irish Sea this weekend for its first-ever visit to Scotland -- to the Border region in fact, and the only rally run over closed public roads on the UK mainland --the Jim Clark Memorial.
This will be the first of three occasions this year when the Toshiba series links up with the British Championship, which adds another dimension to the battle, but all the top Tarmac contenders will be there and they account for more than 25% of the 82-strong entry. Under British Championship rules, the top seedings are reserved for Super 1600 competitors, which means that few of the first eight cars on the list are real contenders for outright victory, although with Rory Galligan (Peugeot 206) and Kris Meeke (Ford Puma) among them nothing is impossible. However Class A8 is more likely to furnish a winner, and here the competition will be fierce.
Top seed is David Higgins with a Subaru Impreza at No 10, just ahead of the Toyota Corolla WRC of seasoned campaigner Austin McHale. The Rathcoole man has a foot in both camps this year, having contested all the British Championship rounds so far in the Toyota Ireland car. He and Brian Murphy currently lie fourth in the Toshiba Championship. Leading on points but seeded behind him this weekend is Andrew Nesbitt, partnered by James O'Brien in the Cuisine de France Impreza WRC. Nesbitt has been dominant in Ireland so far this year, but this is his first 'away game'.
Derek McGarrity will have another Impreza WRC at No 15, behind Jonny Milners Toyota. Currently third on the points table, McGarrity is another first time visitor to the Jim Clark , but has proved to be competitive wherever he has appeared this year, and but for a non-finish in Killarney he might well be lying second. Instead this position is occupied by the fast and consistent Eamonn Boland who starts his new-shape Impreza WRC at No 18 but there are only three points separating them as they go into this third round. And don't forget Peadar Hurson (No 19 Toyota Celica) or Daniel Doherty (No 21 Impreza WRC) , both of whom have shown strongly so far this year. That also goes for Tim McNulty, Robert Woodside and Maurice Gass, all Impreza WRC-mounted and running at 22,23 and 26.
The Jim Clark Memorial is based in Edinburgh for the first time this year and will start from Ocean Terminal, Leith on Friday July 12, finishing there, within sight of the Royal Yacht Britannia, the following afternoon. The main action, however, will be south of the Scottish capitol in the rolling border countryside where the legendary Jim Clark lived. And why should a rally be run to commemorate a racing driver--..Even one who completely dominated Formula One during the sixties ? Simple really. As a young man Clark 'learned his trade' in club rallies held over the very roads, near Duns in Berwickshire, that the rally, which bears his name, will use this weekend. He would have approved.