NEWS: Drivers Set For Borders Battle On Jim Clark Rally
24th May 2013

After a solid start to the 2013 MSA British Rally Championship on gravel in Cumbria, the Culina Palletforce Racing team switches to Tarmac for round two at the Jim Clark Rally next weekend.

Famed for being the only closed public road rally on mainland UK, the event will see both team crews race along the fast country lanes around Kelso and Duns in the Scottish Borders.

Named in memory of double Formula One world champion Jim Clark, Scotland’s biggest motor rally event will host over 300 cars and crews, across a variety of modern and historic categories, when the action kicks off next Friday.

But, for the Culina Palletforce Racing drivers, the event has got somewhat of a local feel – even though both have extremely limited experience of their CA1 Sport Citroen DS3 rally cars on sealed surfaces. For Scot John MacCrone, the stages bear some resemblance to the Tarmac lanes around his home on the Isle of Mull and he acknowledges that it’s his preferred surface.

However, the MSA Team UK driver, who is partnered by experienced co-driver Phil Pugh, has never turned a wheel on his new DS3 in asphalt competition and will be at a distinct disadvantage when the rally roars into action on Friday 31 May. Twenty-three-year-old MacCrone has tackled the Jim Clark twice before, in 2010 and 2011, and will start the event with a renewed confidence after setting fastest time on the last stage of round one in Carlisle.

Despite dropping to 13th overall after losing three minutes with a puncture, MacCrone powered back to fifth overall on his debut for the team at the Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally.

Team-mate Peter Taylor from Carlisle, however, is also on home turf. Although he’s from across the border, Taylor’s family-run holiday park at Lilliardsedge is just down the road from the rally base at Kelso and he’s pretty familiar with the special stages.

The 21-year-old tackled the Manx National Rally two weeks ago to get some important asphalt mileage in his Telford’s Citroen DS3 and, alongside co-driver Andrew Roughead, the pair will be pushing to improve on their seventh overall finish from round one.

Next weekend’s event, which is characterised by smooth roads, fast lanes and flowing stages, is also a round of the one-make Citroen Racing Trophy. But it’s also an event that can bite back pretty quickly. The high-speed jumps can easily pitch a car off the road and the stages become ultra-slippery once it starts to rain.

While the BRC event finishes on Saturday evening in Kelso, Sunday hosts a round of the MSA Scottish Rally Championship and it’s a chance for the amateur drivers to have a blast. Team member Tom Middlemiss, Head of Projects at Culina, will line up in his Opel Corsa to tackle the eight stages which make up the Jim Clark Reivers Rally.

Event Details:
The 135-mile Jim Clark Rally roars into action at 7pm on Friday 31 May with a 1.2 mile blast through Duns town centre before crews move to Abbey St Bathans, at 16 miles the longest and most demanding stage of the event, and the Tweedside test. The loop is repeated on Friday and competitors restart from Kelso at 8am on Saturday 1 June.

Crews then face two stages before service at Kelso Racecourse, then tackle a loop of three including the 1.96-mile Langton stage with its famous water-splash. All five tests are repeated before the finish podium celebrations back in Kelso.

Quotes John MacCrone, Culina Palletforce Racing team driver, said: “Tarmac is my preferred surface so I’m really looking forward to next week’s event. Again, it’s going to be a big learning curve as I haven’t driven the car at all on Tarmac but as long as we get a good base setting it shouldn’t be too bad. My confidence is good after the Pirelli Rally, the partnership with Phil is working well, and there aren’t as many unknowns. Now we know what the pace is like and scoring a quickest time on the last stage was certainly a big confidence boost.”

Peter Taylor, Culina Palletforce Racing team driver, said: “We got good experience of the car on the Manx rally but I think the competition next weekend will be pretty hot. I enjoy the Jim Clark stages but it can be quite a tricky rally. Friday night is likely to be key especially with two runs over Abbey St Bathans – it will be important to start the rally with a good pace as there won’t be much opportunity to make up time on the Saturday stages.”

Thomas Van Mourik, Culina Palletforce Racing team principal, said: “Both drivers did a great job to get our season started in style and now the whole team is looking forward to moving the action to Tarmac. The Jim Clark is sure to be another close battle and again we’ve got a fantastic show on offer for our guests.”

Report: Courtesy of Culina Palletforce Racing

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