Bumper entry for Jim Clark rally extravaganza

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The Jim Clark Rally is under starter’s orders and tomorrow night the region’s biggest annual sporting event will get under way from the town square in Duns.

More than 280 rally crews – the biggest entry for four years – from all over Britain and further afield will race over sections of closed public roads in the hunt for points in all of the UK’s major rallying championships.

Not only is this event a round of the British Rally Championship and UK Historic Rally Championship, but it is also a counter in both of the national Scottish Rally Championships, plus many regional competitions.

That means every single competitor has his or her own personal hopes and aspirations for the weekend.

The only Borders driver in the BRC part of the Jim Clark Rally this year, Garry Pearson from Duns, is trying not to let the pressure get to him.

Seeded number 17 and third in the very competitive R2 category, Pearson hopes that he can quickly get to grips with the handling of this year’s car on what will be only his second event in the Fiesta R2 and his first on tarmac.

Although all competitors are allowed two reconnaissance runs through the stage at slow speed before the event starts, Pearson is hoping to make the most of his local knowledge.

He and co-driver Tom Hynd from Inverbervie lie second in the R2 Championship with 18 points, just two behind Steve Rokland from Norway who won the Fiesta Sport Trophy International Shoot-Out in 2011.

Pearson and Hynd lie in eighth overall in the BRC after what can only be described as a dream start to their 2013 campaign.

“The Fiesta is a great car but there is a lot more to the suspension set-up than with any other car that I have previously used in a championship,” he said.

“And the Friday night’s bumpy stages are quite different to Saturday’s flowing ones.”

Scottish Championship contenders on Sunday’s Jim Clark Reivers Rally are closely matched. After two rounds of the ARR Craib Scottish Championship, David Bogie (Dumfries), along with Hawick co driver Kevin Rae, lead Quintin Milne (Aberdeen) by one solitary point. One of the big threats here is local hope Euan Thorburn from Duns.

He retired from the last round in Aberdeenshire with a damaged exhaust, but bounced back two weekends ago when he won the Plains Rally outright in Wales.

There are only three all-lady crews contesting this year’s event, among them are Carin Logan (Kelso) and Christine Sanderson (Berwick), who will be contesting the National competition in their Citroen Saxo.

But rallying is not just about winners, it is about personal targets and inter-class rivalry.

The field is broken up into class categories for 1400cc cars all the way up to the 2.5-litre ‘big bangers’. Within that there are various sub divisions featuring many of the top local crews, plus a separate category for the ever popular historic cars. And, as always on the Jim Clark, there will be a special class for Land Rovers with crews representing all three major armed services.