David Henderson will re-ignite his challenge for the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship title when he returns for the Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally (26/27 May).
Co-driven by Chris Lees, the Oakenshaw driver led the series after winning the opening round in his Keco/PAR Petroleum-backed Ford Fiesta Rally2 – but elected to miss Rounds 2 and 3, the double header Manx National.
That dropped Henderson from first to 17th in the overall drivers’ standings, but as everyone must drop two mandatory scores, that potential puts him in a very strong position – as every point that Henderson scores from now on will count.
But scoring maximum points on Round 4 will be far from easy, as the Jim Clark Rally has attracted a star-studded Protyre Asphalt Championship entry.
All the big guns are out, including the current overall championship leaders Neil Roskell/Andrew Roughead their Michelin-shod ND Civils/Burdens/Witham Motorsport Ford Fiesta Rally2, Round 2 winners David Wright/Paula Swinscoe (Michelin-shod Fix Auto/Grove Hill Garage Ford Fiesta R5), Round 3 winners Callum Black/Jack Morton (Pirelli-shod Pallas Connections Ford Fiesta Rally2.) and the crews that finished third and fourth on the East Riding Stages – namely Elliot Payne/Tom Woodburn (Pirelli-shod Mango Go Ford Fiesta Rally2) and James Ford/Neil Shanks (Michelin-shod Citroën C3 Rally2).
Crews aiming to bounce straight back from retiring on the Manx include John Stone/Laura Connell (Legend Fires Volkswagen Polo GTI R5), Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh (Tudor Glass Ford Fiesta Rally2), Steven Ormond-Smith/Dafydd Evans (ORMCO Accounts/Manx Rally Sport Mitsubishi Evo 9) and Mike English/Andy Robinson (Proact-backed Fiesta Rally2) – all of which will be challenging for a big haul of Protyre Asphalt points.
Also aiming for a good result are Chris Ford/Michael Hendry (Citroën C3 Rally2), Anthony Eaton/Ian Jackson (Autotest Ford Fiesta R5), Adrian Spencer/Ashley Trimble (RED Industries Subaru Impreza WRX), Joe McKeand/Charlotte McDowall (Subaru Impreza), Mark Holmes/Mark Perryman (Mark Holmes Auto Engineering Ford Fiesta S2000), Lee and Cole Hastings (Subaru Impreza) and Simon Bowen/Craig Simkiss (Andrews Bowen Ford Fiesta S2000T).
One of the star crews on this year’s Protyre Asphalt Championship have been Will Hill/Richard Crozier in their Hills Ford Fiesta Rally3. Not only are they leading class B14, but they arrive in Scotland lying second in the overall drivers’ and co-drivers’ standings – which is testimony to what a well-driven M-Sport-built four-wheel drive 1.5 litre EcoBoost engined 215bhp Fiesta Rally3 can achieve.
The fierce battle for the Protyre Asphalt class B13 title will resume, with only a handful of points separating Gerry Fitzelle/Mark Mason (Bothmans Escort Mk2), Andy Scott/Ian Robertson (P.A.C.E. Escort Mk2), David Cluckie/Ealish Baxter (ORMCO Accounts BMW 325) and Darren Atkinson/Mark Twiname (Haldane Fisher Escort Mk2) – while Brad Cole/Jamie Vaughan will be hoping to get back to their East Riding’s form in their Hydroline Solutions 2.5-litre Escort Mk2.
Olly Hunter/Matt Daniels lead class B11 in their HES Electrical Contractors Escort Mk2 and are just two points ahead of Michael Harbour/Ian MacDougall (Escort Mk2) who won the class on the opening round. Mick Quinn/Chris Walker have recorded three strong scores in their 2-litre CS Motorsport Developments Renault Clio and will be keen to add to their points tally.
In the race for the BTRDA Historic Asphalt Cup title, Will Rowlands/Emyr Hall will be aiming to continue their stunning run of form in their Escort RS1800 Mk2 – which also sees them lead class H9 and the Ford Escort Challenge. Also charging hard in the Historic class are Geoff Roberts/Ian Jones (Motorcraft Escort RS1800 Mk2) and class H8 leaders Graham Muter/Steve Hallmark (Escort Mk2).
Sam Adams has also been on impressive form this year. Co-driven by Michael Johnston in his 2-litre Pinto-engined Road & Rally Services Escort Mk2, the reigning Northern Ireland Junior rally champion arrives at the Jim Clark leading the Fuchs Lubricants / OnThePaceNote supported Protyre Asphalt Junior category, the class index of performance-based Ford Escort Challenge and class B12.
Archie Swinscoe made an impressive Protyre Asphalt debut on the Manx, winning the R2 class in his Rallytech Composites/Asset Alliance Group Opel Adam. The 19-year-old finished 22nd overall on last year’s Jim Clark and is co-driven by Jane Nicol, who is originally from Duns.
Jonathan Stepney/Aled Davies had a disappointing run on the Manx and will be working hard to fix the issues that they had in their new Griffiths Group/Motorhome Services Scotland Renault Clio Sport 2.0 16v to ensure a good run this time.
Nicky Cowperthwaite/Helen Hall finished second in class B9 on the East Riding Stages and resume their trophy challenge in their Cowperthwaite’s Garage/H&K Travel Opel Corsa.
Protyre Motorsport will take a large number of tyres to Duns, including Pirelli, Michelin and Hoosier, and operate an on-event fitting service for all registered Championship contenders.
Special Stage TV will be live streaming all the action from the event on its Facebook page – with Louise Aitken-Walker MBE making a special guest appearance in in commentary team.
The two-day closed road Scottish Borders event offers around 67 miles of competitive action and will have its now traditional Duns town centre start on Friday (26 May) evening before crews head out to tackle a double run over the daunting Longformacus moorland stage, with the second pass likely to be under the cover of darkness.
After an overnight halt, Saturday (27 May) will be unfamiliar to many, as six stages in Edrom, Ayton and Fogo, situated to the west of Duns, are introduced into the itinerary to test the crews to the limit before an early afternoon champagne spraying finish celebration back in Duns town square.
More information on the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship is available at: asphaltrallying.com.
Competitor registration for the 2023 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship will close at 15:00 on Friday 26 May.
Membership of the BTRDA can be done online at: btrdamembership.com.