Following the news last week that the organisers of this year’s Jim Clark Rally, in the Scottish Borders on 31st to 2nd June, had found a brand new Special Stage, comes news of more changes for next month’s major international event.
“Generally competitors last year praised the route,” said Clerk of the Course, George Hay, “but they felt the rally really didn’t get started until the Saturday morning. That’s because we ran only the two short town-centre tests through the streets of Duns on the Friday evening. Saturday featured 8 Stages and continued into Sunday with 5 more.”
“This year we’re doing things slightly differently,” added Hay, “we’re going to give them some serious meat with their hors d’ouvres on Friday night!”
This year the rally will again start from Duns town square on Friday evening with the traditional 1.2 mile Stage through the streets before heading out to the notorious 16 mile Abbey St Bathans test, followed by a run through the brand new test as announced last week. Then they do it all again. Another run through the streets, a high speed flight over Abbey, and finishing off with a blast along the new Stage as darkness falls for the later runners.
“That will get them ready for their supper on Friday night,” said George Hay, “and they’ll need their porridge in the morning, as a full day’s rallying comprising 10 special stages will keep them on the go from dawn till dusk.”
He’s not kidding. According to rising international star, John MacCrone: “Abbey St Bathans is a proper stage. You’ve got to be committed because it’s such a driver’s stage.” And this from a youngster who was reared on the fearsome tarmac special stages on the annual Mull Rally off the west coast of Scotland!
Another piece of news that will delight some, while causing despair to others, is the return of the ‘Langton Splash’. “We’re using the Langton Stage again twice on Saturday,” revealed Hay, “the Stage is only 2 miles long, but halfway through, the cars have to cross a ford through the Langton Burn. If it has been raining, it might be deep. If the weather is dry, then the concrete surface of the ford will be damp, greasy and mossy – no easy ride either way!”
The Langton Stage is always a favourite with spectators and once again full commentary will be provided as the cars tackle the test.
With the conclusion of the British Rally Championship part of the event on Saturday evening, that means the Reivers Rally on Sunday will be run exclusively for competitors in the ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship and the Blue Scottish Tarmack Championship, plus the regional SG Petch ANECCC Championship and Borders Rally Championships.
“The Reivers Rally features a full 8 stages during Sunday,” said Reivers Rally Clerk of the Course, Colin Smith, “including two visits to the Langton splash – that is, if the British Championship crews have left any water in it! In fact this will be the first time in nearly ten years that the Langton test has been used on the Reivers Rally, so it will provide a novel experience for many of this year’s competitors.”
And if anyone thinks a water crossing is easy for rally drivers, the history of this event is littered with waterlogged cars that have ingested water as they splashed through the ford. Too slow and they lose time, too fast and the engine intakes suck in water. When that happens, the crews are lucky if they can fire their engines up again having dried the plugs, whereas the not so lucky can find themselves permanently sidelined with bent valves and a dead engine!
In other words, both the 2013 Jim Clark Rally and Reivers Rally are shaping up to go with a bang - and a splash!