This year’s Jim Clark Rally (May 31-June 1) promises to provide one of the toughest motor rally events in the British sporting calendar.
Not only does this event set one of rallying’s biggest challenges for Britain’s top amateur rally crews, but it provides a full-fat weekend of motor rallying speed and drama for the thousands of rally fans who will descend on Berwickshire at the end of this month.
Run over sections of Closed Public Roads, the nature of the Special Stages range from fast, open ‘A’ and ‘B’ class roads, where rally drivers have to pick a ‘racing line’ through the bends, to narrow, bumpy lanes where the corners are obscured by hedges. This rally is not only a test of a driver’s skill, stamina and car control, it is one of the toughest mechanical tests for engines, transmissions - and bodywork!
This event also provides one of the biggest challenges faced by co-drivers, those fearless men and women who read the road ahead for their drivers. Prior to the rally, crews take part in a slow speed reconnaissance of the route with the co-driver noting the drivers’ comments on road conditions, distances to corners, severity of corners and all manner of other route markers
This information is gathered in rallying’s version of a ‘Shorthand’ notebook which can then be read back to the driver during their high speed competitive run through the Special Stages on the rally itself.
Easy? Try reading a map in a normal car driving over a bumpy road while being swayed from left to right on corners. Even at slow speed few people can contain their breakfast! In other words, co-drivers are often the forgotten stalwarts of rallying.
Most of the special stages over the Jim Clark weekend are used twice which cuts down the amount of information to be gathered and learned, but even during their first competitive run of these high speed tests, drivers and co-drivers are amending their Notes for the second run. The Jim Clark Rally is a real pressure cooker of an event for man - and woman - and machine.
The pressure starts on Friday evening with 8 Special Stages (compared to last year’s 6) and includes the ever popular double run through the streets of Duns town centre. Also included in the Friday night line-up is the fearsome 16 mile Abbey St Bathans test where speeds can exceed 120 mph on some stretches.
On Saturday the ten stages include the ever popular spectator favourite at Langton where the ‘ford’ provides yet another challenge for the crews. There’s no telling how deep the water will be, that all depends on rainfall during the week running up to the rally. If they get it wrong and the car ingests water, that’s their rally over.
It’s also a huge treat for the rally fans who line the hillsides all around to see who makes the biggest splash. The Saturday route also includes the notorious Swinton test which has shattered many an ambition - and many an oil sump in the past.
There’s no let up on the Sunday run with another double visit to the ‘Langton Splash’, the high speed Bothwell test, and the sting in the tail that is the final run through the tortuous Blackadder.
These are all names for rally crews and rally fans to conjure with, and the full timetable is now available on the rally website (http://www.jimclarkrally.com/).
More detailed information and event previews will be issued over the coming weeks and details of where to purchase the event Programme, complete with Stage Maps and Car Parking sites, will be advised.