The Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally has been taking place since 1970 and is considered one of the hardest events to master thanks to its unique combination of moorland blasts and twisty lanes.
As the BRC kick start’s a run of four asphalt events in a row in the Scottish Borders, let’s get the lowdown on the two-day event with Duns resident and last year’s podium sitter, Garry Pearson. The rapid Scot will switch to a Melvyn Evans Motorsport Volkswagen Polo GTi this season and has enlisted Daniel Barritt to co-drive for the remainder, so is well-placed to give a little insight into what our crews have in store this year.
BRC: Thanks for chatting with us Garry! The Jim Clark Rally is steeped in History and has been a staple of the BRC for many years now. This year, as in 2022, it kicks off with two blasts over the Longformacus test and the last run will be in the dark. It sounds tricky enough, but what’s the key to a good time there?
GP: Call it what you like but I`ll always know it as Abbey St Bathans, named after the village it runs alongside and is a very tricky start. It’s actually the most technical of the rally, despite having the feeling of being wide open in places.
It’s a fast start to the stage into a tricky uphill section climbing to toot corner before dropping into Abbey St Bathans to the famous spectator junction. Then along to the hogs back, a tricky technical section with sudden corners after blind crests with a climb to the finish of the stage.
Gets trickier towards the end of the stage with narrow sections across minor roads and is known for the possibility of punctures. It’s an unpredictable loop, let alone the second pass in darkness.
BRC: It’s a different loop of stages this year and many BRC contenders won’t have contested them before. You have the benefit of local knowledge so what can we expect in the Edrom stage?
GP: Edrom is a fast and narrow stage with a couple of tricky corners that can really catch people out. In a slight change this year, it misses the famous Buxley hairpins but is still a great test. It’s very fast to Edrom village, and then it goes onto the main road for a wide section with a chicane before turning onto a narrower road with a tricky jump section that requires commitment. A flat dash to the farmyard just before the end of the stage is always a fun one.
BRC: Ayton takes us towards the coast so does that mean it has a different feel?
GP: In a way, but it’s long before it feels familiar. There’s a narrow start down to a main road before a few chicanes on the double-width road before turning left up a hill at Ayton village itself. It’s a fast loop that requires big commitment before turning off onto a narrow road and under a narrow railway bridge, You`ll then be turning back onto a double-width road which is super fast. Slot left onto a narrow road again with a series of long straights and 90-degree corners. It has it all.
BRC: Fogo is another Jim Clark staple. But could it be a sting in the tail perhaps?
GP: Bravery is rewarded here but caution is needed too. It’s a tricky first mile with bumps and crests, which continues through Fogo village before turning right onto a wider road, it quickly gets tight and narrow again, a big commitment area before Sisterpath where Alan Kirkcaldy went off in a previous year. Fast blast down to Marchmont Estate before turning off past the spectator zone onto a section with a 1000m straight, a HPR at a second spectator zone leads to a short climb uphill to Caldra where it’s flattish to the finish.
BRC: Thanks Garry and good luck!
Now you know what to expect this weekend – join us for all the live updates, gossip and news from the Borders. Keep tabs on all the latest BRC developments by visiting www.britishrallychampionship.co.uk or by following us on social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #BRC.