The entry list is now open for the Jim Clark Rally and Jim Clark Reivers Rally which will take to the roads of Berwickshire late next month, and competitors are wondering what lies in store on this joint second round of the 2014 MSA British Rally Championship and fourth round of the ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship.
The two clerks of the course are staying tight-lipped about the route and the stages.
Although the Ulster Rally (Round 4) and Isle of Man (Round 5) events are held on tarmac roads, the Jim Clark event is the only one on the British mainland to run on closed public roads. As far as the national Scottish Rally Championship is concerned, the JC Reivers Rally is the only tarmac event in an otherwise all-forest based series.
The annual Isle of Mull Rally in October was the first event outside Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man to run a rally on closed public roads in 1990. An Act of Parliament had to be created for that event, not just to close the roads, but to suspend the Road Traffic Act for the duration of each special stage.
The organisers of the Jim Clark Rally used that precedent to pursue their own Act of Parliament to close sections of road in Berwickshire, and with the enthusiastic support of the council, landowners and other authorities the first closed road special stage rally on the British mainland took place in 1997.
The big surprise is that no other English or Welsh car clubs or organisations have taken up these precedents to organise their own closed road events, but recently motor sport’s governing body, the MSA (Motor Sports Association) organised a nationwide consultation to gauge support for such a concept. One of the biggest hurdles facing such an event is the legal cost of raising a separate act of parliament for each individual event and geographic location.
For its part, the MSA is hoping to establish a more simplified and less costly means of suspending the Road Traffic Act for such events, and it will be interesting to see the outcome of this process. It must be stressed that this would not prompt any wholesale switch from forest rallying to road rallying, as the costs of staging such an event are still sufficient to deter all but the most dedicated.
Ahead of the Jim Clark Rally weekend on 30 May-1 June, the British Rally Championship will stage the first round of its 2014 series in Carlisle on the weekend of 3 and 4 May, while the third round of the Scottish Rally Championship will be staged in Aberdeen on 26 April.
Borderer Euan Thorburn (Duns) leads the Scottish Championship by two points (after two rounds) from David Bogie (Dumfries) and Quintin Milne (Aberdeen).