Round four of the MSA British Rally Championship, the Jim Clark Rally, based in the border town of Duns, the famous home town of the late Formula 1 legend Jim Clark and former World Ladies Rally Champion, plays host this weekend. It’s the first of two tarmac rounds of the championship for the crews in the Citroën DS3 R3 machines, and series leader Desi Henry is looking forward to the event, having had a great run here last year in his C2 R2 Max.
“I enjoyed the event last year for sure, but I will have to adjust a little to the car on tarmac, as it’s going to be my first proper run on that surface with the DS3. We entered the Cavan Rally last weekend, but sadly only got to under two miles when we came across the tragic accident on stage one. We have to put that to the back of our minds this weekend, and hope to get some mileage in the car on the pre event shake-down on Friday.”
Second in the series is Pirelli Rally winner Keith Cronin who has recently been to France to hone his tarmac skills in his DS3. Keith produced some good stage times on the Rallye Limousin in France, but two punctures stymied the result a little. He lay an impressive 14th overall and 3rd DS3 overnight, but punctures dropped him to 22nd overall and 8th DS3. With seriously tough opposition this weekend for the overall BRC honors he simply can’t afford any costly deflations. He has adapted quickly again to front wheel drive, and is definitely one of the hot favorites this weekend. Dropping a score too makes his Citroën Racing Trophy UK position look very favourable.
After his amazing Bulldog Rally win, Welsh man Tom Cave didn’t have the best of rallies on the Pirelli, but is looking forward to the tarmac stages, after a successful trip to the Carlow Stages which netted him 10th overall, and first in class.
The 20 year-old however is still mourning the sad demise of his father just two weeks ago. “It’s been a tough few weeks and it’s hard to describe how I’m feeling at the moment. I’m still a bit numb after Dad died but I need to focus on this event and try to ensure that we get a reasonable result to keep the championship going.”
This will be Tom’s third time on the Jim Clark, having competed in his Group N Fiesta and last year, in the Group N Mitsubishi Lancer. “I’ve done the rally twice before but don’t have a huge amount of experience of the stages, so Craig and I will be spending some time ahead of the event reviewing our notes from the previous years and working on systems ahead of this weekend. The event is also longer than last year – there are just two stages on Friday compared with six last year then 90 miles on Saturday and another 40 on Sunday, so it will be a tough event but I just want to enjoy it without putting myself under too much pressure.”
Jarkko Nikara from Saarijarvi in Finland, has been rallying on the IRC Corsica of late, with an R4 Subaru, but it’s time to switch back to his DS3 in which he led the opening Sunseeker round in. Jarkko has shown great speed so far, but desperately wants that win to back up his efforts. The recent experience in Corsica should help his tarmac pace on the Jim Clark Rally, the Scottish roads being quite a bit smoother than the Irish lanes. Osian Pryce is currently fifth in the series and he too has undertaken some tarmac practice, having finished 10th overall and 2nd two wheel drive on the Manx National Rally, despite a few spins and a puncture. “We achieved what we wanted here and have got a good set-up ready for the next round of the BRC at the Jim Clark International Rally at the end of the month.
Davies Motorsport Services have worked hard getting the tarmac settings just right, but we may need to tweak them further as the BRC round uses faster and smoother main public roads so the pace will be a lot quicker.”
Jonny Greer was another to enter the ill-fated Cavan Rally as a test, so he hasn’t got as many miles as planned, but with a successful finish on the Circuit of Ireland behind him, and a good run here last year in an S2000 car he is looking forward to the event. “We hope to spend some time on Friday morning at shake-down and tune the suspension settings, and I just took the car for a brief run the other day. I think with the extra day added to the event this year, it will be interesting, maybe even more of an endurance event, and the weather could play a role over three days too. Those roads can be very slippery with a little rain, and with it being our first run on tarmac competing against each other it will be very interesting to gauge the pace.”
James Grint is another relative newcomer to a DS3 and he is picking up the pace very well, with some good times on the Pirelli Rally. Although not registered for the Trophy, Callum Black is also debuting a DS3 on this event, which begins with two runs around the centre of Duns on Friday evening before seven stages on Saturday and five on Sunday.
Manufacturer Standings after Round Three
|1||Citroën UK||109 points|
|2||Renault UK||91 points|
|3||Ford Motor Co||88 points|
Citroën Racing Trophy UK after Round Three
|2||Keith Cronin||38 points|
|3||Tom Cave||36 points|
|4||Jarkko Nikara||34 points|
|5||Osian Pryce||33 points|
|6||Jonny Greer||29 points|
|7||James Grint||25 points|