British Rally Championship fans were blessed last weekend with decent weather for the annual Jim Clark Rally in the Scottish borders, as local racer Ross Hunter and his co-driver Gary White used their home advantage to take victory over the three-day event.
Hunter hails from just 10 miles away from the event’s base, so knows the roads well. After the pairing were handed the lead following last year’s series champions Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor putting their Citroen C2 into a ditch, Hunter and White brought their Peugeot 205 rally car home in one piece to take the spoils.
After the first stage the top 10 were covered by less than 7.5 seconds, setting the stages up for a interesting few days. However, the famously tough nature of the Jim Clark Rally took its toll on a number of vehicles, with Richard Archer suffering engine failure, Mark Gamble succumbing to fuel system problems and Luke Pinder being ejected from the rally due to driveshaft failure.
After the overnight service, Sykes had a comfortable 7.7-second advantage over Hunter. However, with the competitors waking up to damp roads and tricky conditions, it was to be a difficult day for all the drivers.
Sykes was buoyant about the day ahead:
“Ross has a powerful car which will give him an advantage on the power stages but my little Citroen and the way it handles should see us do well on the tighter, more technical ones. It’s going to be an interesting battle today.”
The first 13.5-mile stage of the day was cancelled, so the action kicked off through the famous Swinton crossroads. Unfortunately though, the battle that was shaping up wasn’t to be, as Sykes and Taylor’s excursion away from the Tarmac halted their charge for victory, effectively handing first place to Hunter and White.
Taylor on his high-speed incident:
“We came over a right six, the back end stepped into the verge which sucked us in. It then spat us back out and put us through a hedge at 80mph. We got the car back on the road eventually but had to change a puncture and obviously we dropped a lot of time.
The crew were lucky to get back on the road having sustained minimal damage after the fast crash, let alone to wrap up 10th place.
Second spot eventually went to Russ Thompson and his co-driver and Andy Murphy, finishing eight seconds back of the leaders.
The event is all about action though – as pictured above. Seeing fully prepared rally cars leap free of terra firma and glide down narrow single-track stages is simply awesome. It’s a million miles away from Formula One, but no less interesting to watch in its own right.