Jedburgh will be welcoming some of the best drivers in the rallying world as the Brick and Steel Border Counties Rally takes place in the forests of the south of Scotland.
Bolstered by the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) and ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship (SRC), the event will see around 120 competitors tackle stages in the Wauchope, Craik and the Tweed Valley forest complex tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.
Among an entry list bulging with talent from the UK, Ireland, Australia, Sweden and Norway, the event is shaping up to be one of the biggest in the region for many years.
Leading the field away at car one will be 2010 British Rally Champion and five-time Scottish Rally Champions David Bogie/Kevin Rae in their Skoda Fabia R5. Borders driver Bogie is fresh from a round one SRC win and, with victory at last weekend’s Malcolm Wilson Rally in Cumbria, he has further reinforced his chances of the local spoils.
Tom Cave/James Morgan returns to the BRC at number two seed in a Dom Buckley Fiesta R5. A strong showing during the latter half of the 2016 season will mean Cave cannot be discounted. Swedish duo Fredrick Ahlin/Torstein Eriksen is the third seed in their Skoda Fabia R5 and head to Jedburgh as one of the favourites to clinch the 2017 BRC crown.
Three-time British Champion Keith Cronin is the first of two M-Sport run Fiesta R5 crews with co-driver Mikie Galvin and start at car four with Duns driver Euan Thorburn in a similar machine at six. Paul Beaton will co-drive. A trio of Irish drivers round out the top 10 with Desi Henri, Jonny Greer and Martin McCormack all keen to do well in the opening round of the British Championship.
First SRC crew away is reigning champion Jock Armstrong in his crowd pleasing Subaru Impreza. With co-driver Paula Swinscoe, the duo will be hoping to repeat last year’s victory at the Border Counties. They are followed by the Mitsubishi Evo IX crew of Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy who will be aiming to tame their newly arrived steed into a decent result. Shaun Sinclair/Jamie Edwards will want to build on a strong opening round performance in their Subaru S14 WRC and start at 14.
The Hawick and Border Car Club and Whickham and District Motor Club-organised event will start outside Jedburgh Abbey at 6pm tomorrow with an autograph session, meet and greet, and family entertainment at Abbey Place in the town.
Crews from the British Championship will cross the start ramp at 7pm that evening to head for two night-time stages in the Craik forest.
They will be joined on Saturday by competitors from the SRC, the Ecosse C2 Challenge, SG Petch ANECCC Stage Rally Championship and the HRCR Motoscope Northern Historic Rally Championship who all will tackle the entire day’s stages.
After an action-packed day in the Borders forests, the field will return to the finish ceremony in Jedburgh at around 4pm, where the victors from both the British and Scottish championships will spray the champagne, once again watched over by the historic Jedburgh Abbey.
Fans will also be well catered for during the event, with opportunities to watch the action throughout the weekend. Spectators looking for action and atmosphere can head to Craik forest on Friday night for the BRC opening two stages, running at around 7.50pm and then again at 8.50pm.
On Saturday, the field will welcome the remaining crews and Wauchope provides the first opportunity to see the action at around 9.15am. Two stages at Elibank offer the chance to see crews twice, firstly at 11.40an and then again at 2.55pm.
The event reaches its finale back at Jedburgh at around 4pm, where a pipe band will greet the lucky crews who return to the finish celebrations under the watchful eye of Jedburgh Abbey.
Spectator information, a full entry list and more information can be found on the Brick and Steel Border Counties Rally website at www.bordercountiesrally.co.uk alongside the event’s social media feeds – www.facebook.com/bordercountiesrally and www.twitter.com/borderrally