BORDERS rally fans are in for a real treat this weekend with many local crews competing in the popular Jim Clark Rally, writes Sandy Brydon.
Dumfries’ David Bogie and his Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae currently lead the BRC and are clear leaders of the Scottish Rally Championship too, while Duns driver Euan Thorburn, co-driven by Paul Beaton from Inverness, will be hopping to push the main title contenders all the way in his home event.
West Linton’s John Boys is also in action in the International Rally at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta.
In the Challenge Rally, Coldstream’s Dez Campbell and Hutton co-driver Alex Orr are among the top 10 seeds in their Peugeot 206 cup car while Duns driver Garry Pearson and co-driver Laura Marshall from Newtown Stewart are also competing in their Nissan Micra Super 1000 and will be looking to repeat the class win they achieved on the previous round.
The ceremonial start and Mantis Instant Shine street stage take over the whole of the centre of Duns on Friday evening, kicking off with an autograph session in the Market Square at 5.30pm, the stage running at 7pm and 9.30pm.
With 43 of the event’s 140 stage miles completed on Friday evening, the remaining 10 stages loop around the Kelso service area, finishing with champagne back in Duns just before 6pm on Saturday.
Local crews are out in force in the National Rally which follows behind the international event on Friday and Saturday.
After finishing fourth overall last year, the Duns crew of Douglas Brydon and Dave O’Brien will be going flat out to repeat or better that result this year in their Subaru Impreza.
More than 100 cars are entered for the popular Jim Clark Reivers Rally on Sunday, the only tarmac event in the eight-round Scottish Championship.
Defending title-holders Bogie and Rae will be targeting a third successive victory on the event – and his third win of the 2011 championship. However, this time out, he will be powering through the lanes in his family’s 23-year-old MG Metro 6R4 – the same car in which his father John won the Reivers Rally in 2002. He will face stiff competition from a clutch of leading drivers, not least Thorburn – the runner-up for the past two years. He will be aiming to go one better this time out at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Evo 9.
The leading rear-wheel drive entry is the historic Mk2 Escort of Steve Bannister, who with Louise Sutherland of Hawick on the notes, achieved a memorable second overall on the Reivers in bone dry conditions in 2008.
Championship returnee Robbie Head has said he relishes the prospect of the Berwickshire tarmac stages where he triumphed in 1997 – the year the Jim Clark Rally first became a closed road event. This weekend, he will be at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Evo 9, alongside local navigator Claire Mole.
Highland driver David Wilson turned in a storming drive to secure the final podium spot on a tie-break at the Granite City Rally. He will again be accompanied by Jedburgh-based co-driver Dave Robson.
The first car will be flagged away from Duns town centre at 8.45am on Sunday, with the leaders returning around 4.45pm.