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After a thrilling opening event of the season in Cumbria, the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge field follows the MSA British Rally Championship to Berwickshire this weekend for round two of this year’s championship, the Jim Clark Challenge Rally.

An ever present round since the inaugural BRC Challenge season in 2005, The Jim Clark Challenge module offers this year’s bumper entry list 85 competitive asphalt stage miles in the spectacular Berwickshire countryside around the country lanes surrounding Kelso and Duns renowned for fast speeds and big jumps.

The blast through the Borders ‘tar’ gets under way on Friday evening as the Challenge crews will make a welcome return to the Duns Spectator Stage after skipping the 1.2km town centre test in 2012, getting under way at 19:45. From here and under the cover of darkness for the first time this season, a further 30 stage miles will be completed before heading back to Kelso Racecourse just before midnight for the overnight halt.

The action awakens from its slumber early on Saturday morning as the field, comprising title protagonists, promising rookies and a good amount of local flavour, tackle two stages before a mid-morning return to service ahead of another three test including Langton with its famous water-splash. The five stages are then repeated in the afternoon ahead of the completion of the event with the ceremonial finish in Kelso town centre late on Saturday afternoon.

On the 2012 Jim Clark, Sunderland based ace Simon Moore and his “Yellow Peril” Renault Clio took his second win of the season on an event that took its toll on the competing field with a total of nine retirements from the 16 entries retired with a combination of mechanical failures and crashes as the ditches, hedges and fence-posts synonymous with the Jim Clark bit hard.

Hoping to avoid being caught out and building on an impressive start to the 2013 ‘Challenge will be standings leaders, Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy who opened their season in fine style by taking home a maximum 30 point haul after winning the Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally on a sunny but breezy spring afternoon in Carlisle.

Taking the lead after the first stage, Thompson and Murphy withstood a spirited charge from Galway’s Dean Raftery in the morning and then matched a rapid Richard Sykes & Simon Taylor in the afternoon to record a 19.3 second victory over the man from Stourbridge.

After battling a misfire and their own early season rustiness on the Pirelli’s morning stages, Sykes and Taylor were in impressive form in the afternoon, negotiating the legendary Kielder Forest tests significantly faster than their morning efforts included a mammoth 20 second improvement on stage five.  The closeness of the times between these crew promises an intense battle at the front of this weekend’s field.

Joining the pre event favourite table will be previous Jim Clark winners Richard Archer & John Connor.  While a crank sensor failure ended the veteran’s Pirelli outing before the start, the tarmac specialist’s undoubted skill, rapid Opel Corsa and experience of the Jim Clark’s stages, which have taken him to the top step of the podium twice before, means a strong bounce-back from his Cumbria calamity is a strong possibility.

In the Fiesta SportChallenge , Cumbrian Aaron McClure will be undertaking his inaugural sealed service event in the Fiesta and looking to consolidate the third place he holds in the standings with John Byrnes/Paul Murphy.

Speaking to his own website prior to the event, the 19 year old from Flookburgh said, “This will certainly be a totally different event to last month’s Pirelli Rally.  I`ll have to treat the stages with a lot of respect and get settled into a comfortable rhythm during the night stages on Friday. We need a good result for our championship prospects so the pressure is on!”

To stay updated with all the latest action from the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge, download the free British Rally Championship App to your Smartphone or follow the trials and tribulations via our official Twitter feed @britishrally and be sure to be in Kelso on Saturday evening to see who tames the challenge of the Jim Clark rally and earn the points and trophies on offer.

For more information on the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge visit http://www.rallybrc.co.uk

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