James Ford scored maximum Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship points for the first time when he set a string of fastest overall stage times to beat all of his series rivals in a fast and furious Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally.
Co-driven by Neil Shanks, the Preston driver lost time when he caught a slower car on the opening stage, but come day two he flew to a superb fourth overall finish in his Michelin-shod Citroën C3 Rally2 – despite stalling the car at the start of the eighth and final stage.
“I may have thrown my dummy out of the pram after catching a car and losing a lot of time on Friday night. It wasn’t a very good evening for us,” said Ford.
“We started Saturday with a little bit of red mist because I felt that we had a bit of a point to prove. Day two has been much better, with a couple of fastest overall stage times ahead of everybody today, even the BRC crews. We’ve done a lot of rallying in Ireland this year, and that’s helped our pace for sure.”
Having won the opening round, David Henderson’s challenge for Britain’s premier sealed-surface rally title is back on track after taking home second place points in his Keco/PAR Petroleum-backed Ford Fiesta Rally2. It was the first time that the Oakenshaw driver had contested the Jim Clark, so he understandably started cautiously on the opening pair of evening stages. Co-driven by Chris Lees, Henderson was enjoying a trouble-free run until he hit a rock on the last corner of the penultimate stage and picked up a puncture and was forced to complete the event with bent suspension. He eventually finished 16.7 seconds behind Ford and moves up from 17th to eighth in the overall Protyre Asphalt drivers’ standings.
Neil Roskell/Andrew Roughead arrived at the Jim Clark Rally as Protyre Asphalt Championship leaders, but almost put their ND Civils/Burdens/Witham Motorsport Ford Fiesta Rally2 off the road when they attacked the opening stage with a bit too much gusto on cold Michelin tyres. They then spun the car and stalled the engine on SS4, but after those early dramas they got better as the event progressed and took home third place points to retain their spot at the top of the points table.
Callum Black/Jack Morton lost time with a pop-off problem on day two, and changing the value unit in service after SS5 only made it worse for the final loop of three stages. Their “trying day” wasn’t over, as they hit a rock and bent the steering on SS6, meaning that they lost a minute in that stage and had to complete the final two stages at a reduced pace. Nevertheless, they picked up fourth place Protyre Asphalt points, with Black moving up to second in the overall drivers’ standings. 586 Sport won the Dynamic Fluids Best Presented Car Award, which was presented to Steve Black for the team’s stunning Pirelli-shod Pallas Connections Ford Fiesta Rally2.
David Wright/Paula Swinscoe suffered brake problems on both Friday night’s Longformacus stages in their Michelin-shod Fix Auto/Grove Hill Garage Ford Fiesta R5. They went a lot better on day two, especially on the second loop of stages where Wright said that he felt that the car “was underneath us now”. They finished the event with heavy damage to the front of the car and high engine water temperature, thanks to out-braking themselves at a square right corner and hitting a straw bale. But a good drive was rewarded with fifth place points to maintain their Protyre Asphalt title challenge.
Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh had a good and untroubled run to take sixth place points in their Tudor Glass Ford Fiesta Rally2.
John Stone/Laura Connell suffered from a poor seeding of number 21 and two slow nominal times, but still scored seventh place Protyre Asphalt points after a solid run in their Legend Fires Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
Hugh Brunton/Drew Sturrock registered for the Protyre Asphalt Rally Championship on the day of the Jim Clark, which was the last opportunity for crews to do so this year. They survived plenty of moments in their Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo, before spending two minutes in a hedge on the penultimate stage. They eventually completed the Protyre Asphalt overall top 10.
Anthony Eaton/Ian Jackson (Autotest Ford Fiesta R5) enjoyed a very consistent run to 30th overall, Mike English/Andy Robinson (Proact-backed Fiesta Rally2) completed the opening stage in 50th place and worked their way up to 37th by the finish, Lee and Cole Hastings (Subaru Impreza) finished with a strong push on the final two stages to come home 38th, while Steven Ormond-Smith/Dafydd Evans (ORMCO Accounts/Manx Rally Sport Mitsubishi Evo 9) made a cautious start and ended up 43rd.
Adrian Spencer had to find a replacement co-driver at short notice and teamed up with Callum Young for the first time. They got quicker and quicker as the event unfolded and finished 48th overall in their RED Industries Subaru Impreza WRX.
Elliot Payne/Tom Woodburn were challenging for maximum Protyre Asphalt points when they crashed their Pirelli-shod Mango Go Ford Fiesta Rally2 just before the end of SS5.
Simon Bowen/Craig Simkiss slid their Andrews Bowen Ford Fiesta S2000T wide on a patch of gravel just as they turned to go under a bridge on SS4. They hit the stone wall, broke the bottom arm, and retired with what became a double puncture and a pair of destroyed wheel rims. That stage also witnessed the retirement of Chris Ford/Michael Hendry in their Citroën C3 Rally2, while Joe McKeand/Charlotte McDowall retired their Subaru Impreza in service mid-way through day two.
Will Hill/Richard Crozier continue to impress in their Hills Ford Fiesta Rally3. They once again were convincing winners of class B14, enjoying what they described as a tough event and great stages – made trickier by the loose gravel that had been pulled out onto the road for the second pass.
Many crews caught cars on Friday night’s opening pair of stages, including Darren Atkinson/Mark Twiname who were stuck behind a slower car for five miles in SS2, losing a considerable amount of time. They had a “managed drive” on day two, driving at “101% rather than the usual 110%” to take home eighth place overall points as the highest placed two-wheel drive crew in their Haldane Fisher Escort Mk2.
The Lancaster driver is now tied for the class B13 lead with Gerry Fitzelle. Co-driven by Mark Mason, who leads the class B13 co-driver’s section, the Bothmans Escort Mk2 driver had another great run to record his third second place class finish in a row.
Mark Holmes/Mark Perryman originally entered the Jim Clark in their Ford Fiesta S2000 but appeared in their Mark Holmes Auto Engineering Escort Mk2. It was a successful switch of car and class, as they finished third in B13 – ahead of Andy Scott/Ian Robertson (P.A.C.E. Escort Mk2) and David Cluckie/Ealish Baxter (ORMCO Accounts BMW 325)
Brad Cole/Jamie Vaughan caught the car ahead of them on Friday night and were distracted when their Hydroline Solutions 2.5-litre Escort Mk2’s dashboard lit up with warning lights for no apparent reason. They were flying on day two but were one of the crews that got caught out on that patch of gravel before a narrow tunnel under a bridge on SS4 – hitting the wall and damaging both their car and class B13 title challenge.
Michael Harbour/Ian MacDougall are having a great season, picking up their second class B11 win (along with a second and third finish on the double header Manx National) to take the class lead in their VS Pro Pressure Washing Services/Miller Waste Water Escort Mk2.
Olly Hunter is just one point behind in the class B11 drivers’ standings (with navigator Matt Daniels tied with MacDougall in the co-drivers’ section) after finishing second in his HES Electrical Contractors Escort Mk2.
Despite catching a car on SS2, Will Rowlands/Emyr Hall did all the hard work on the opening five stages to be able to ease through the final loop of stages and come home the best placed Historic car crew and a magnificent third 2WD car home in their Escort RS1800 Mk2. They continue to lead the BTRDA Historic Asphalt Cup, class H9 and the Ford Escort Challenge.
Geoff Roberts/Ian Jones remain second in class H9 after another good run in their Motorcraft Escort RS1800 Mk2, while Graham Muter/Steve Hallmark clinched their third straight class H8 win in their Escort Mk2.
Archie Swinscoe followed up his impressive Protyre Asphalt debut on the Manx by winning the R2 class again in his Rallytech Composites/Asset Alliance Group Opel Adam. The 19-year-old was co-driven by Jane Nicol, who is originally from Duns.
Swinscoe also won the Fuchs Lubricants / OnThePaceNote supported Protyre Asphalt Junior category and has closed the gap to leader Sam Adams to just four points. The reigning Northern Ireland Junior rally champion had been having a great season, but he and co-driver Michael Johnston retired their Road & Rally Services Escort Mk2 on SS4.
Nicky Cowperthwaite/Helen Hall passed two cars on SS1 and lost out on the notional time they were given for SS2. Things got better for the Cowperthwaite’s Garage/H&K Travel Opel Corsa crew on day two, as they clinched victory in class B9.
Having caught a car halfway through Friday night’s Longformacus stage, Jonathan Stepney/Aled Davies lost the brakes in their new Griffiths Group/Motorhome Services Scotland Renault Clio Sport 2.0 16v. It was so bad that they had to change down from fifth to first gear just to get around the next corner. They didn’t return for Saturday’s stages, preferring to get the car back to the workshop and start fixing the problem.
Mick Quinn/Chris Walker were having a good run but retired their 2-litre CS Motorsport Developments Renault Clio with electronic isolator failure.
Action from the Jim Clark Rally is available to view on the Special Stage TV Facebook page and you tube page with commentary from Paul Woodford and special guest Louise Aitken-Walker MBE.
Round 5 of the 2023 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship is the Dunoon presents Argyll Rally on 23/24 June.
More information on the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship is available at: asphaltrallying.com.
Jim Clark Rally – top 10 registered 2023 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship finishers:
1. James Ford/Neil Shanks (Citroën C3 Rally2)….58mins 38.5secs
2. David Henderson/Chris Lees (Ford Fiesta Rally2)….58mins 55.2secs
3. Neil Roskell/Andrew Roughead (Ford Fiesta Rally2)….1hr 00mins 13.4secs
4. Callum Black/Jack Morton (Ford Fiesta Rally2)….1hr 00mins 45.7secs
5. David Wright/Paula Swinscoe (Ford Fiesta R5)….1hr 00mins 59.6secs
6. Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh (Ford Fiesta Rally2)….1hr 01mins 46.9secs
7. John Stone/Laura Connell (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5)….1hr 02mins 40.0secs
8. Darren Atkinson/Mark Twiname (Ford Escort Mk2)….1hr 03mins 23.0secs
9. William Hill/Richard Crozier (Ford Fiesta Rally3)….1hr 08mins 02.0secs
10. Hugh Brunton/Drew Sturrock (Škoda Fabia Rally2)….1hr 04mins 34.4secs
2023 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship – top 6 drivers’ overall after Round 4:
1. Neil Roskell….101pts
2. Callum Black….84pts
3. David Wright….84pts
4. Will Hill….80pts
5. John Stone….69pts
6. Will Rowlands….69pts