French driver va-va-vrooms to victory as Borders hosts Jim Clark Rally
The market town offered a fantastic backdrop for the rally, hosting the event service area and the centre itself seeing the cars assemble for the start and finish celebrations throughout the weekend.
A top-class line-up of contenders from across the world gathered to contest the highly regarded rally, with almost 240 crews tackling the closed public roads in Berwickshire on both the Jim Clark and Reivers events.
The rally took place across Friday and Saturday, hosting the Motorsport UK British Rally Championship (BRC) as well as the Protyre National Asphalt Rally Championship and several regional championships.
Sunday saw the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship contenders join for the Reivers Rally.
The BRC attracted top-level crews and it was a familiar name that secured the overall rally win.
The Jim Clark Rally enjoyed its traditional format of two tests during Friday night and an action-packed evening saw World Rally Championship contenders Adrien Fourmaux and Alex Coria open up a 28-second advantage by the time the sun dropped over the North Sea.
The all-French Ford Fiesta Rally2 crew are regulars on the WRC tour and that lead over last year’s victors, Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin, would be more than enough to ensure they could manage their lead throughout Saturday’s stages, returning to Duns town centre as worthy winners.
“We can be really happy with that, and the car has been in a good position all weekend so yes, very happy,” Fourmaux said after the race.
“I am really enjoying [the British Rally Championship] and it is very different being on the gravel and then the tarmac.”
Cronin managed to salvage second place whilst the Duns honours were upheld by a flying Euan Thorburn, who took third place.
The battle outside the top three was intense and a gutsy drive from James Ford saw him take maximum National Asphalt Championship points and fourth overall.
David Henderson and Chris Lees rounded out the top five.
Local hopes had rested with Garry Pearson thanks to his third overall last year, but the Duns driver suffered a painful weekend behind the wheel.
A brush with a bale on the opening stage of the rally rearranged the bodywork of his car before he crashed out on the next stage.
With Thorburn making the podium, it was Dale Robertson who was the next best Duns driver home, in eighth, while St Boswell’s Ross Hunter took 13th and the all-Duns crew of Michael Binnie and Claire Mole came 14th.
On Sunday, attention turned to the Reivers Rally.
Thorburn secured a win here last year and once again was fastest on the opening stage.
Henderson was his nearest challenger, and the two drivers enjoyed a tit-for-tat battle for victory throughout the day’s six tests.
It was Thorburn’s time on the second pass of the Westruther test which decided the outcome, and despite Henderson’s best efforts, he could not catch the local ace as he stormed to back-to-back Reivers Rally wins.
Henderson had some consolation in taking maximum Scottish Rally Championship points with second overall.
Hugh Brunton and Drew Sturrock secured third.