The Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK follows the MSA British Rally Championship onto tarmac for the first time this season, as crews leave the forests and move to the lanes of the Jim Clark International Rally.
With the Twingo R2 Trophy having started on the second round of the BRC, Chris Ingram and Nick Allen have had just two opportunities to score points towards the end of season prize-drive on the final round of the French Rally Championship.
First blood went to Allen, the Californian driver ably assisted by Solihull’s own Andy Bull. But in a fit of chivalry, the crew made a decision that could ultimately decide the championship, helping young Ingram to the final service area after he and co-driver Joe Cruttenden had fuel problems.
Despite not being strictly in the rule book, Allen’s kind gesture and Ingram’s resulting points may be annulled at the end of the season, when each crews’ worst score is discounted.
The second round of the series for the R2 runners was the Pirelli International Rally where Ingram was certainly quick. But whatever speed he attained in the infamous Kielder Forest complex would have bested Allen, as the affable Yank retired with transmission troubles on Saturday’s first stage.
Local lad Garry Pearson needs to hold his nerve on the Jim Clark International Rally
So it is Ingram who leads the R2 Trophy ahead of the move to asphalt, a surface with which he is very familiar. With a Junior 1000 Championship title, an excellent result on the IRC Circuit of Ireland under his belt and the vastly experienced Ieuan Thomas alongside, it would be folly to bet against the 17 year-old on the Jim Clark Rally.
But rallying is a sport where experience in both seats counts and if it success on an event has ant bearing, then bring on Nick Allen’s co-driver Andy Bull. He and Thomas locked horns as co-drivers on the event in 2008, Bull taking the second podium spot alongside Stuart Jones, one place higher than Thomas with former BRC Champ David Higgins.
The fight for the Twingo R1 Trophy may well be all but done after its three rounds so far, Garry Pearson needing just to start his home Jim Clark International Rally to take the title. But the young Scot and his co-driver Craig Wallace will have competition on the tar once more, despite a clash for his British Junior Rally Championship sparring partner Steve Røkland
The Norwegian will not make this Scottish BRC counter, but Pearson cannot tie up the title on home tarmac, needing at least one more score after the Jim Clark to guarantee the prestigious title.
Pearson will instead vie for Class 10 honours on the event with former one-make series protagonist Henry Catchpole. Henry is fortunate to be the features editor for Evo magazine, so has plenty of opportunity to drive fast cars fast. But he is also an avid rally fan, securing a drive in the Swift Sport Cup in 2008, a 1600cc series similar to the Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK.
He and co-driver Chris Brooks acquitted themselves well during their single season, Henry taking fifth in the series despite a retirement on the final round. It has been a while since his skills have been pitted against others on the closed roads of the Scottish Borders though, and with Pearson living practically on the rally route, he will be up against stiff competition.
With a share of the £3000 per-event prize fund and Rallye du Var prize-drive at stake, the Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK runners and riders ready themselves for this unique rally, which takes place on the closed public roads of the Scottish Borders.
The Jim Clark International Rally is based in Kelso with a ceremonial start and spectator stage on Friday night in Jim Clark’s home town of Duns. The stages loop around the two towns, returning to Kelso several times for essential maintenance at Kelso Racecourse.
Duns hosts a ceremonial start and two town centre special stages on Friday evening, cars arriving for the pre-start autograph session from around 18:00hrs. The bulk of the action takes place on Saturday from 08:00hrs, finishing back in race & rally legend Jim Clark’s hometown of Duns after 145 competitive miles at 14:30hrs on Sunday.
For more information visit www.renaultsport.co.uk or www.twingotrophy.co.uk