This Saturday’s Jedburgh stage of the NCS Border Counties Rally has been called off because of the extreme weather conditions.
Organisers of the event announced over the weekend that, owing to the conditions prevailing in the south of Scotland and Tweed Valley forests, they could not guarantee the safety of competitors, marshals, volunteers and officials – leaving no option but to postpone the event.
The executive committee of the Hawick and Border Car Club and Whickham and District Motor Club organised event held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the situation in the stages, which had been subject to the unprecedented snowfall and ice which covered the region in the past few days.
The conditions at the time had led to all local forestry operations being suspended and any snow plough access to the forests used would not be possible until the early part of this week.
With the set-up process usually commencing the weekend before the event, consisting of thousands of stakes, notices and tape being erected well in advance, organisers would also be unable to ensure the event met the required safety standards.
Coupled with a significant number of local roads still closed, continuing drifting snow with a strong east wind, and possible further snow forecasts, organisers could simply not guarantee the safety and welfare of set-up crews, let alone event participants and marshals.
Clerk of the course, Clayton Lackenby, confrimed the decision had not been taken lightly.
“The entire team has been working flat out to come up with a plan and numerous solutions to overcome the conditions in the area and, quite simply, this course of action to postpone is down to the safety of everyone involved in the event as this can never be compromised,” he said.
“We are, of course, disappointed to have to make this decision but we felt it only fair to give everyone as much notice as possible, because of the significant distances competitors and volunteers have to travel.
We thank our sponsors NCS, local and regional councils and, of course, the championships, for their ongoing support at this time”.
The Hawick and Border Car Club and Whickham and District Motor Club organised event was due to be the opening round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship and second round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship and a round of the Motoscope Northern Historic Championship and the Border Rally Challenge.
All entrants will be contacted shortly regarding refunds of fees already paid.
Organisers will be in talks with the championships, sponsors and stakeholders to seek an alternative date for the event to run in 2018.
The decision has, unfortunately, foiled the hopes of former double winner Alistair Brearley, who had decided to come out of retirement at the age of 70 and get back on the track once again after a gap of over 40 years.
Alistair, of Galashiels, was the winner of the annual event back in 1973, driving in an Opel Ascona. However, he may yet get to achieve his aim if he is able to take part on the rearranged date.