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As the crews head off to make their all-important pace-notes on the Jim Clark Rally, spare a thought for the pundits who try to predict the outcome of the BRC’s RallyTwo Championship.

Like the battle for the prestigious solid silver MSA British Rally Championship trophy, it will be an intense one on the Scottish Borders lanes. And like the fight at the front, it will be dreadfully difficult to decide who might win.

The title is open to any crew piloting any two wheel drive car outside the top R3 category, but in reality it is likely to come from a crew with access to one of the Fiesta, Twingo or Citroën R2 machines.

Heading the field with maximum points is the furthest travelled of the BRC RallyTwo runners. Steve Røkland, with James Aldridge alongside, showed grit, determination and downright speed to head the pack in Kielder, putting their Fiesta R2 sixth overall to boot. But the Norwegian has never contested the event and his asphalt experience is limited.

Northern Irishman Jon Armstrong, however, does have some experience on the ‘tar’, and experience of the ‘notes too. Martin Brady’s vast knowledge should guide the 18 year-old’s Fiesta well, but they will need to stay clear of punctures which cost them dear on round one.

Local Duns youngster Garry Pearson also has experience to hand in the form of Tom Hynd. The reigning British Junior Champion has done everything perfectly to this point, moving through the ranks of BRC Challenge and the juniors, but will have the added pressure of a home crowd as he guides his Fiesta R2 through the familiar lanes.

Chris Ingram & Stephen McAuley is the first RallyTwo crew to buck the Fiesta trend, opting instead for the Renault Twingo R2 EVO. Last Year’s Twingo Trophy Champion has mixed memories from the 2012 Jim Clark, his first ‘proper’ asphalt event seeing the save of his life over the infamous Swinton crossroads bump.

Irishmen Daniel Mc Kenna & Arthur Kierans have a simple goal this year; to gain another Pirelli Star Driver nomination and move up to the top R3 class. But between them and this goal are five of Britain’s best and toughest events. Their Fiesta steed helped them to third on the Pirelli RBF Rally and their speed on home asphalt is undeniable – definitely ones to watch.

Alex Parpottas was fourth in his class in the BRC last year and the 19 year-old continues to improve; the trouble is, the competition does too. Jamie Edwards has been drafted in this year to help up the youngster’s game and they will be looking to improve on Alex’s 2012 fifth in class on the all-asphalt event.

Sticking with the Fiesta is Scots pairing Ruary MacLeod and Drew Sturrock. A hasty repair was necessary to the car after a Pirelli Rally roll though, when a tricky crest caught them out on the very first stage. They finished last year’s ‘Clark one place above Parpottas, so will hope to build on that and put Pundershaw behind them.

A brace of Citroëns driven by James Ford and David Carney are next on the Scottish Borders stages, ably assisted by Steve Hartley and Ray Fitzpatrick respectively. On paper the 190bhp C2R2 Max should go really well on sealed surfaces, having been originally developed in France and both crews having experience of the car in the past. Ford contested the 2012 BRC Challenge event and Carney the Irish Citroën Racing Trophy; in fact the pair met last year in Ireland on the Ulster Rally, on that occasion Carney coming out on top.

A welcome return to this year’s championship is son and father team of Kit and Tim Leigh. Not so welcome was the persistent overheating problem that plagued their Pirelli Rally. The Fiesta did eventually behave, but they now have to contend with an event that they haven’t contested since 2011.

Røkland may be the furthest travelled of the regulars, but winning the long-haul award are Adam Spence and Erin Kelly. Their Honda Civic TypeR may be based in the UK, but they have travelled across the globe for a one-off Jim Clark rally experience. A crack team in the Australian ‘targa’ closed road racing series, they are keen to see how they measure up against the current BRC stars. However they fare, they will certainly be made more than welcome on this second round of the British Rally Championship.

Jim Clark Rally details
The Jim Clark Rally returns to its now traditional Duns ceremonial start from 6.30pm on Friday 31 May followed by a 1.2 mile stage through the town centre. The crews then take on Abbey St Bathans, a sixteen mile stage than often sets the tone for the remainder of the rally followed by the new Tweedside stage. This loop is repeated on Friday, competitors restarting from Kelso at 8am on Saturday 1 June after an unlimited overnight service halt.

Saturday’s first two stages take place early, the cars returning to Kelso Racecourse for a quick service, before tackling a loop of three including the return of the 1.96-mile Langton stage with its famous watersplash. All five stages are repeated before the finish celebrations back in Kelso from 5.30pm.

BRC on Sky Sports
Catch the action from the BRC’s front-runners on the Jim Clark Rally on Sky Sports 3 on Monday 10th June from 6pm. Full schedule of repeats HERE. Or if you can’t wait for the full programme, watch the highlights from the British Rally Championship, BRC RallyTwo and NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge on the BRC’s homepage player throughout next week.

For more information on the MSA British Rally Championship visit http://www.rallybrc.co.uk

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