TWO local drivers stole the show in the Jim Clark National Rally but victory, for a second year running, went to Hereford driver Damian Cole in a Ford Focus WRC.
Duns drivers Douglas Brydon and Dale Robertson used their local knowledge to great advantage to set a blistering pace over Friday night’s three stages to lie first and second overall. In fact they were so quick they were even beating international rally winner David Bogie!
However, on Saturday’s stages the much more powerful WRC cars clawed their way back into contention although the Duns drivers pushed them hard throughout the rally.
Damian Cole and new co-driver James Morgan set about moving up the order in their Ford Focus WRC on Saturday morning but Steve Simpson and Patrick Walsh had similar ideas and it was they who moved to the top of the leaderboard in their Subaru Impreza WRC.
Intermittent heavy rain showers made the going difficult at times – and tyre choice a nightmare!
Cole managed to edge ahead of Simpson but, after 120 miles of stages, the winning margin was just 5.2 seconds!
Third place went to Simon Mauger and Brian Cammack in their Ford Escort Mk 2.
Douglas Brydon and co-driver David O’Brien finished a superb fourth overall in their Subaru Impreza, equalling their result from the previous year, and they won their class by over two minutes.
“Fourth place was probably the best we could have asked for,” explained Douglas. “The big WRC cars were always going to be difficult to catch but we made them fight all the way and I am well pleased with our result.
“I made a wrong tyre choice for a couple of the afternoon stages and we lost a little time so that probably cost us third place in the end but I thoroughly enjoyed the event and the car never missed a beat all day.”
However, luck was not on the side of Dale Robertson and co-driver Paul McGuire. After Friday night’s heroics, problems with the differential on their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 plagued them from the start on Saturday and they were eventually forced to retire with three stages remaining.
Paul Ballantyne and Duns co-driver Jane Nicol finished 25th overall in their Renault Clio while the Duns crew of Garry Wilson and Fiona Gourlay finished 32nd despite a number of problems throughout the Saturday stages. Scott Balgowan (Duns) and Alison Woodcock (Coldstream) finished 44th in their Peugeot 306.
Among the retirements were Mike Horne and Robbie Mitchell from Duns in their Ford Escort Mk2. They were in eighth place overall going into the final stages only for the alternator to pack in and force them out just one mile from the end.
Hawick’s Martin Elsdon and John Frew retired their Ford Escort Mk 2 after eight stages while Kev Dunn and Sarah Hunter put their Vauxhal Nova off the road on stage ten.
Gareth White from St Boswells and Callum Atkinson from Lauder retired their Citroen C2 R2 Max on stage 11 and Ayton’s Billy Cowe and co-driver Robert Paterson from Chirnside were forced out on the same stage.
Mechanical failure also forced the retirement of Heriot’s Ian Campbell and Richard Wardle in their Mitsubishi Lancer WRC, Kieran Renton (Leitholm) and Johnny Millar (St Boswells) in their Ford Fiesta, Phil Morton and Jo Emma Hint in their Fiat X19 Prototipo and Carin Logan (Kelso) and Christine Sanderson (Berwick) in their Citroen Saxo VTR.