Josh Moffet and Andy Hayes won the weekend’s Jim Clark Rally in Duns.
The Irishman was lying second after Friday afternoon’s opening stage but, over the remaining eight stages on Saturday, he overtook early leaders David Bogie and Kevin Rae to score his seventh straight win of the season.
This was Moffett’s first visit to the Scottish Borders event, although he did think there were some similarities to the events he had already contested this year across the water in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“We don’t have many rallies this late in the season back home, so usually the roads are bit cleaner,” he said.
“After the rain you have had over here, the roads were wet and, with the water running off the fields, it was carrying a lot of mud.
“Plus the cars were cutting corners and dragging more mud on to the road.
“Conditions were very tricky and very inconsistent but it was a good rally.
“Some of the roads are very reminiscent of home but conditions made them very different too.”
Moffett was also driving a brand new car, the latest spec Ford Fiesta R5 from the Cumbrian M-Sport World Rally Championship team based in Dovenby.
“Although it looks very similar to the current R5, this one – the engine, suspension and the brakes – feels completely different,” he added.
“But I’ve brought it back home in one piece and I’m happy.”
Bogie scored an exceptional runner-up place in his rear wheel drive Ford Escort Mk2.
His remarkable pace split the four wheel drive machines of Moffett and third placed Dale Robertson and Stuart Loudon, also in a Fiesta R5.
Given the treacherously slippy conditions, Bogie’s result was truly outstanding.
“It’s been good,” he said. “There was ice on the early stages after an overnight frost but, once the sun came up, there was grip to be had.
“However, as temperatures started to drop again this evening, it started to catch out many of the front runners. But we had good pace and just kept it going.”
Robertson’s third place was equally impressive. First time in the hired machine, the Berwickshire man was setting top six times from the start and, with two stages to go, he was lying fourth overall behind the Ford Focus of Hugh Hunter and Calvin Cooledge.
On the penultimate test, a determined charge through the Blackadder section saw him take 12 seconds out of Hunter to snatch third by four seconds. Hunter responded with a faster time through the final test at Fogo but only one second faster – not enough to catch Robertson.
Also first time out in a hired Fiesta R5, local man Ross Hunter (no relation to Hugh) scored a superb fifth overall, with Cornhill-on-Tweeed’s Michael Binnie in an ‘old technology’ Mitsubishi Lancer rounding off the top six.
One hundred cars started the rally on Friday afternoon but only two thirds reached the finish, with many falling victim to the slippery conditions. However, the return of the rally, albeit late in the season, excited and enthralled the large crowds who turned out to watch.
Hopefully, as temperatures plunged once again and darkness fell, they’re now looking forward to the rally’s return to its normal ‘warmer’ date in May next year, when it will once again be a round of the British Rally Championship.