Did you hear the one about the Scotsman, the Englishman and the Irishman? They’re all contesting this weekend’s Jim Clark Rally in Duns.
The return of the Jim Clark Rally has been welcomed right across the country and, despite the end-of-season date, many of the country’s top amateur drivers and their co-drivers are heading to the Scottish Borders.
Ahead lies a choice selection of the country’s finest stretches of testing and demanding roads, which will be closed by Act of Parliament for a few hours to allow the competition to take place.
Where tractors and Royal Mail vans provide the normal backdrop to country life, the roads will be busy with specialised machines of a very different nature.
The sound of high-performance engines will replace the rhythmic chug of tractors for a few hours before being handed back to their more habitual custodians.
Heading the entry list is top Irish driver Josh Moffett.
Winner of six rallies in Ireland and Northern Ireland this season so far, this will be his first ever competitive run out on Scottish tarmac.
At number two is top Scot, David Bogie. With one British and five Scottish rally titles already under his belt, the Dumfries driver is coming across country to Duns “just for the craic”.
Unlike Moffett, who will be at the wheel of the latest generation 4WD Ford Fiesta R5, Bogie will be driving his cherished RWD Ford Escort Mk2.
All the way from Hertfordshire is the number three seed Robert Swann. For this weekend, the Englishman will swap his Subaru Impreza World Rally Car for a Ford Fiesta WRC machine, which will be able to take the fight to Moffett.
Another Scot fills the number four slot, former race driver Alan Kirkaldy. Fresh from victory in his Fiesta R5 just a few weeks ago on the Cheviot Stages at Otterburn, he will have his eyes on a bigger prize this weekend.
From Wales comes the number five seed, Hugh Hunter, with his Ford Focus World Rally Car. Hunter hasn’t won a rally this season – yet – and will be keen to make amends this weekend.
Rounding off the top six is Manchester’s Steve Simpson, another Fiesta R5 front runner and in his third change of car this year.
Filling the next three places are three more drivers in 4WD machinery – Lincolnshire’s Andy Fenwick in a Fiesta R5 and two more Scots, both in Mitsubishi Lancers, local farmer Michael Binnie from Cornhill-on-Tweed, and Inverness car dealer Donnie MacDonald.
Completing the top 10 line-up is another local hope, Garry Pearson. But, like Bogie, he has opted for a RWD Ford Escort Mk2. Unlike Bogie, this will be Pearson’s first ever run out in a Mk2 and he’s relishing the challenge. He started rallying in front-wheel drive cars and moved on to four-wheel drive machines. This will be his first rally where “the wheels are pushing rather than pulling”.
That’s not to say he won’t be competitive. Like Bogie, if conditions are right for the two-wheel drive brigade, the total traction faction will have to keep an eye on their rear vision mirrors.
The outlook for fun and frolics this weekend remains bright and promising, and the organisers will welcome careful and considerate spectators. To that end, four separate spectator areas have been created for fans to gather and cheer on their favourites.
All the information for spectators tomorrow (Friday) and on Saturday is at www.jimclarkrally.org/index.html
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