AS A place steeped in history, it’s safe to assume a fair few different flags have been raised in Kelso over the course of history.
But yesterday will be one of only a few times an Australian flag has been flown in the Scottish Borders post.
The Redback Racing crew of Adam Spence and Erin Kelly celebrated their result on the Jim Clark Memorial Rally by unfurling a giant version of their home country’s flag across the windscreen of their EuroRallye Honda Civic Type R.
Contesting a British rally for the first time, Spence and Kelly set out to treat the Clark as a learning experience - aiming to build up their speed whilst enjoying being part of one of the UK’s most iconic motor sport events. The Clark - held on closed tarmac roads in the Scottish Borders - has a reputation as being one of the most unforgiving events, with the potential to catch out even local crews who drive the roads on a daily basis.
Despite being one of the top crews in the Australian targa racing series, Adam and Erin knew full well that British closed-road rallying would be an entirely different experience. What they perhaps were not banking on, though, was encountering all of these differences at once on the opening loop of stages on Friday night - in addition to the challenges of night driving and narrow roads, some fog had descended across the second Abbey St Bathans test for good measure!
Nonetheless, the Redback Racing crew managed to keep away from the trees and fields, reaching the end of the first leg with the EuroRallye Honda Civic Type R unscathed. With the fog lifting overnight, Spence and Kelly were able to enjoy the second leg of the rally in broad daylight, where they focused on learning the ins and outs of British rallying and closing the gap to the British Championship regulars. A problem-free run meant Adam and Erin returned to Kelso at the end of the rally 18th overall, collecting two shiny class trophies to cram in their suitcases for the long flight home.
“The stages were so different to what I am used to”, admitted Adam. “Coming from the wide targa roads of Australia to these narrow lanes was kind of like training hard at tennis, playing a lot of games, thinking you’re pretty good at tennis – and then turning up to find you’re actually doing a squash match.”
“But this has been a fantastic experience from start to finish, a completely new challenge”, the Redback Racing driver continues. “The experience has definitely benefited us as a crew, so I have to say a big thanks to our supporters Vivant, Motul and RDA EBC Brakes, who made it possible for us to come to the UK.”
“We knew it was going to be a steep learning curve right from the start”, added Erin. “But when we got to the first full stage, at night, we weren’t expecting fog as well! It’s been such a challenging weekend, but positively towards the end it felt like we were starting to get the hang of it.”
The Jim Clark Memorial Rally was like nothing Adam Spence and Erin Kelly have contested before. But if the level of learning and commitment the Redback Racing team has shown on this outing is anything to go by, next time they might want to check the ‘sporting trophy’ allowance with their airline before they travel.