Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux was almost untouchable at the Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally this weekend [26-27 May], taking back-to-back Motorsport UK British Rally Championship victories, with a sensational event win.
Fourmaux and co-driver Alexandre Coria, opened a whopping 28-second lead after the opening two tests on Friday night, and were never headed throughout Saturday’s tests, taking their Pirelli shod Ford Fiesta Rally2 to a second consecutive BRC win. Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin were their nearest challengers in second, with Callum Black and Jack Morton rounding out the podium.
The breath-taking closed roads in the Scottish Borders near the Duns rally base would predictably provide an action-packed weekend of rallying with over 66 miles of competition spread over two days. Friday evening would prove pivotal in the fight for the top spot, and it was Fourmaux who blew away the opposition over the two passes of Longformacus.
The WRC superstar opened a 12-second lead on the first pass and by the time the sun disappeared over the North Sea, he extended that to 28 seconds as crews headed into the overnight halt.
Nearest rival was Cronin and armed with Michelin’s on his Volkswagen Polo GTi for the first time this season, the Irishman would admit to having to get up to speed compared to Fourmaux’s hefty seat time of late.
Local ace Garry Pearson was third quickest on the opener but threw his Hankook-shod Polo off the road on the second pass and he and co-driver Daniel Barritt would go no further.
That left James Williams and Dai Roberts just over four seconds back in third, adapting well to their new-for-2023 Ford Fiesta Rally2 on their maiden asphalt outing.
Saturday offered a frantic schedule of just six tests, three stages repeated and little chance for huge gains in time. But you would have to scan down the timesheets to find Fourmaux as Cronin did his best to make inroads on the leader. By now, last year’s BRC runner-up had settled nicely into the Polo after eight months out of the seat on a sealed surface.
But it wasn’t enough, and the Frenchmen could afford to manage their lead to take yet another maximum score and their second British Rally Championship win of 2023.
“We can be really happy with that, and the car has been in a good position all weekend so yes, very happy” said Fourmaux.
“We were really enjoying the rally, it was really technical and slippery in places. We had a really good day yesterday and then we could just enjoy the stages today.”
“I am really enjoying [the British Rally Championship] and it is very different being on the gravel and then the tarmac. It is really interesting.”
Cronin had some consolation in second, having played second fiddle on the Malcolm Wilson Rally too, his pace this time around was much closer to the sharp end. As a four-time champion, Cronin knows what it takes to win titles and well knows it’s a long season ahead.
The fight for third was much more intense heading into the second day with just 25 seconds separating third to sixth. Williams enjoyed a great start to the day, beating Fourmaux and just 1.7 seconds adrift of Cronin on the opener. With one stage to go before service, Williams was just 11 seconds behind, but his hard work would all come to nothing on Fogo, crashing out of third.
Furthermore, the battle for the final podium place became a one-horserace on the Fogo test, as not only did Williams exit, but so did Elliot Payne and Tom Woodburn in their Fiesta Rally2, also crashing out of the rally after a solid performance.
That left Black to sweep up and claim third, despite an impact with a rock on the opening Saturday loop and a pop-off-valve issue, the Fiesta pilot nursed it home to score his first BRC podium since 2014.
Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson enjoyed a positive asphalt debut in their Skoda Fabia, taking fourth place but inherited the spot after Hugh Brunton and Drew Sturrock beached their Fabia on the second pass of Ayton.
Johnnie Mulholland was another to be bedding into the asphalt, taking his Fiesta Rally3 onto a sealed surface for the first time, he and Eoin Treacy taking the BRC3 spoils, as Steve Waugh and Mark Broadbent took BRC4 in their Fiesta.
Junior British Rally Championship
The Junior BRC battle was decided on the opening stage of the event when series returnee Max McRae retired his Opel Corsa Rally4 with transmission woes. Also enduring an opening stage to forget, was Kyle McBride, rolling his Ford Fiesta Rally4.
That left Kyle White to claim his second Junior win of the season, with a measured drive in his Peugeot 208 Rally4. He and Sean Topping still had to deal with a turbo issue but managed their lead to make it two from two.
With battered but functional bodywork, McBride and co-driver Liam McIntyre re-started on Saturday to climb back up the leader board and secured second whilst BRC debutant Luke Barry enjoyed his maiden driving outing to take third with Alex Waterman in the co-driver’s seat of their Fiesta R2.
National Rally Title
Alan Carmichael and Arthur Kierans endured a tricky event, with an issue blighting almost every stage during the weekend. With a re-arranged bumper, the Hyundai i20 crew took the top spot in the National Rally Title, with Mike East and Glyn Thomas taking second in their Ford Fiesta R2, whilst Stuart McLaren and Adam Entwhilstle grabbed third in their historic Opel Kadett.
The series stays on the asphalt for the third round, as it welcomes the popular Ardeca Ypres Rally back to the roster in June.