Brydon rues tyre choice as superb early lead is eaten up

Jim Clark Rally. James Brydon leaps to a creditable fourth place in this year's rally.
Jim Clark Rally. James Brydon leaps to a creditable fourth place in this year's rally.

TWO local drivers stole the show in the Jim Clark National Rally, but victory, for the second year running, went to Hereford driver Damian Cole in a Ford Focus WRC.

Duns drivers Douglas Brydon and Dale Robertson used their local knowledge to great advantage, setting a blistering pace over Friday night’s three stages to lie first and second overall.

In fact, they were so quick they were even beating International Rally winner David Bogie.

However, on Saturday’s stages the much more powerful WRC cars clawed their way back into contention, although the Duns drivers pushed them hard throughout the rally.

Damian Cole and new co-driver James Morgan set about moving up the order in their Ford Focus WRC on Saturday morning, but Steve Simpson and Patrick Walsh had similar ideas and it was they who moved to the top of the leaderboard in their Subaru Impreza WRC.

Intermittent heavy rain showers made the going difficult at times – and tyre choice a nightmare.

Cole managed to edge ahead of Simpson, but after 120 miles of stages, the winning margin was just 5.2 seconds.

Third place went to Simon Mauger and Brian Cammack in their Ford Escort Mk 2.

Brydon and co-driver David O’Brien finished a superb fourth overall in their Subaru Impreza, equalling their result from the previous year, and they won their class by more than two minutes.

“Fourth place was probably the best we could have asked for,” explained Brydon. “The big WRC cars were always going to be difficult to catch, but we made them fight all the way and I am well pleased with our result.

“I made a wrong tyre choice for a couple of the afternoon stages and we lost a little time, so that probably cost us third place in the end, but I thoroughly enjoyed the event and the car never missed a beat all day.”

However, luck was not on the side of Robertson and co-driver Paul McGuire. After Friday night’s heroics, problems with the differential on their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 plagued them from the start on Saturday and they were eventually forced to retire with three stages remaining.

Paul Ballantyne and Duns co-driver Jane Nicol finished 25th overall in their Renault Clio while the Duns crew of Garry Wilson and Fiona Gourlay finished 32nd despite a number of problems throughout the Saturday stages. Scott Balgowan (Duns) and Alison Woodcock (Coldstream) finished 44th in their Peugeot 306.