More than 70 motorists compete as Border Counties Rally returns to region after two years off

The Borders hosted its first car rally since 2019 at the weekend, attracting a turnout of more than 70 crews from far and wide as well as within the region.

By Darin Hutson
Monday, 16th May 2022, 3:05 pm
Michael Binnie and Claire Mole competing in 2022's Border Counties Rally on Saturday (Photo: Malcolm Almond/BTRDA)
Michael Binnie and Claire Mole competing in 2022's Border Counties Rally on Saturday (Photo: Malcolm Almond/BTRDA)

The Border Counties Rally staged a comeback on Saturday following two years off due to the coronavirus pandemic, starting and finishing in Jedburgh and taking in stages nearby, around Hawick and at Cardrona.

First to finish of the 58 drivers to complete the 42-mile gravel section of the 204-mile course, in a time of 37 minutes and 22 seconds, was North Yorkshire’s Elliot Payne, teamed up with Patrick Walsh, in his Ford Fiesta Rally2.

The 19-year-old took top spot by 14 seconds from County Durham’s David Henderson and East Ayrshire’s Chris Lees in their Fiesta R5.

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Elliot Payne and Patrick Walsh on their way to victory in Saturday's Border Counties Rally (Photo: Malcolm Almond/BTRDA)

Number one seeds Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson, also from County Durham, finished third in 37:39 in their Fiesta WRC.

Harrogate’s Payne, a British Rally Championship competitor this season, was in the Borders to contest the MRF Tyres British Trial and Rally Driver Association Rally Series, part of the Jedburgh-based event for the first time since the early 1990s.

“That feels really good,” said Payne after picking up maximum points.

“We just came here to get points for the championship really, but it has played out well.

2022 Border Counties Rally runners-up David Henderson and Chris Lees in action on Saturday (Photo: Malcolm Almond/BTRDA)

“We managed to keep our noses clean all day and we took a steady approach – no risks and no pressure from our side.

“There were no real moments. The car is in one piece, which is good as it’s my dad’s car, so huge thanks to him for letting me use it. I’m happy with that.”Henderson clocked the fastest time on the Lime Kiln Edge stage of the day but could not match Payne over the remainder of the course.

Cornhill-on-Tweed’s Michael Binnie and Duns co-driver Claire Mole ended up fifth after losing ground during the rally’s concluding Riccarton stage, clocking 37:43 in their Mitsubishi Evo.

The revived rally, attracting a field of 73 competitors, with 15 retiring, was organised by Hawick and Border Car Club and new co-promoters Berwick and District Motor Club, with Glasgow’s Brick and Steel Construction Company rejoining as title sponsors.

It was also a round of both the SG Petch Association of North East and Cumbria Car Clubs Rally Championship and Motoscope Northern Historic Championship.

Denholm driver Ian Baumgart, competing in a Subaru Impreza and with Highlander Sinclair Young in the co-driver’s seat, finished 12th in 40:34.

Event sponsor John McClory and fellow Hawick and Border Car Club member David Hood, in a Mitsubishi Evo, were 13th back in 40:55.

Two further Hawick and Border Car Club members, Steve Bannister and Callum Atkinson, competing in a Ford Escort MK2, finished 16th in 41:17.

Saturday’s rally might have been the first in the Borders for three years but motorsport fans don’t face as long a wait for the next one, the Jim Clark Rally being lined up to return at the end of the month, also after two years off, for only the second time since 2014.