This year’s event, supported by East Kilbride based Heliex Power, marks the midway point of the national series and with three different winners on each of the three rounds so far, predicting the victors will be like picking a winner in a Blackpool beach donkey derby.
Already entered for this year’s event are the three individual round winners so far with Duns driver Garry Pearson currently holding a seven point championship lead following his previous round victory on the Speyside Stages Rally.
Reigning Scottish Champion, and Border Counties Rally winner, Jock Armstrong from Castle Douglas is lying second in the championship title chase with Snowman Rally winner Donnie MacDonald a further six points behind, but the Culloden driver is keen to make up lost ground.
Competitors count only their best six scores from the seven round series, so a good run from Donnie would pitch him right back into contention with Pearson and Armstrong.
There is just one wee snag. Winner of this event last year, Jock Armstrong is under a bit more pressure than the other two following a practice run last week.
But this was no ordinary practice run, he was training for last weekend’s Galloway Hillbillies Duathlon event in Kirroughtree Forest, when he crashed on his mountain bike preparing for the 10k run and 16k bicycle ride competition.
“It was one of the biggest and scariest accidents I’ve ever had,” said Jock.
He added: “I haven’t broken anything, but my shoulder is very bruised and swollen and there are fears that I might have torn a muscle which could hinder the healing process.”
He added: “You know what? I think this mountain biking might be more dangerous than rallying!”
On that basis he will get a chance to ‘relax’ on Sunday, June 5, when he heads to Kelso for the Reivers.
This year’s event will again be based at Springwood Park in Kelso before heading south to the northern edge of Kielder Forest where the day’s six Special Stages will be contested.
Hopefully this will be the last time that the rally organisers will have to use forest stages as plans are currently underway to return to the use of ‘closed public roads’ next year.
In fact, the organisers of this year’s Jim Clark Rally are making a very tempting offer to this year’s Reivers runners - competitors in this year’s event will be guaranteed an entry next year! That’s not an offer to be sniffed at considering the excitement and anticipation that will build up ahead of a return to the tar.
The 2016 ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship leaderboard is as follows:
1. Garry Pearson (Duns) 84 points, 2. Jock Armstrong (Castle Douglas) 77, 3. Dale Robertson (Duns) 75, 4. Mark McCulloch (Dumfries) 75, 5. Bruce McCombie (Banchory) 73, 6. Donnie MacDonald (Culloden) 71, 7. Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge) 71, 8. Andrew Gallacher (Hurlford) 62, 9. Barry Groundwater (Stonehaven) 62, 10. John Wink (Huntly) 53.