THE Probite British Rally Championship makes a return to asphalt next weekend, as the Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally [24-25 May] takes the series to Duns in the Scottish Borders and Machynlleth’s Osian Pryce and Lampeter’s Meirion Evans will be determined to make an impression.

Llandysul’s Ioan Lloyd with co-driver Gwynfor Jones will provide a strong challenge in the Junior BRC.

The highly-regarded two-day event has long enjoyed a place in the BRC calendar, and its legendary closed roads around the host town provide a sensational mix of deceptive moorland roads coupled with twisty country lanes and the perfect offering for the third round of the season.

Over the decades, its iconic Langton water splash has long been the picture postcard of the British Rally Championship and thanks to a shake-up in the format of the rally, the famous stage returns to the roster after a decade away from the schedule.

Packed into Friday night are six high-speed tests with the second pass likely to be under the cover of darkness to test championship contenders to the limit. Saturday crams in eight tests, taking the total rally miles to 88, over 20 more than the 2023 edition.

James Williams / Dai Roberts - Hyundai I20 R5
Spectacular Scottish Borders roads await (Motorsport UK)

And the unforgiving roads will see a staggering entry weaving its way across the Borders landscape, with around 140 crews taking to the event. Once again, the BRC brings a top-drawer list of drivers, co-drivers and machinery all eager to stamp their mark on this landmark rally.

The Classes: BRC1

Championship leaders Chris Ingram and Alex Kihurani head into round three with one win under their belts in a Volkswagen Polo GTi. Ingram’s lack of knowledge of the region could play into his rival’s hands; he hasn’t been to the event since 2013, but he will be eager to uphold the Castrol MEM Rally Team honours regardless.

Fresh from WRC Rally Portugal William Creighton and Liam Regan have enjoyed an impressive BRC form with two second place results so far this season. The M-Sport Ford Rally Team crew will be back in their Ford Fiesta Rally2 and with a stellar asphalt pace of late, may well be looking at a maiden BRC win.

But a glance down the seeded entry list unveils a myriad of likely winners, none more so than Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin who are previous victors on the rally in 2022.  A difficult BRC campaign so far has meant they are down the standings, but once Cronin gets hold of his Fiesta Rally2, will be a hard act to follow.

If anyone knows how to tackle the Borders roads, it’s Duns drivers Garry Pearson and Euan Thorburn. Thorburn is reunited with Paul Beaton for the weekend and stormed to a Reivers Rally [Sunday’s non-championship event] win in 2023 so is well versed at handling his VW Polo on the Border’s roads. Equally, Pearson is settling into his Ford Fiesta and with Daniel Barritt on the notes, he could well nail a victory on home soil.

Osian Pryce landed victory at round two in Wales with a sensational drive on the gravel in his Fiesta Rally2. He and co-driver Rhodri Evans blitzed their rivals and put a round one retirement firmly behind them. The rally hasn’t been kind to Pryce in the past, so he will be eager to make amends this time around.

Meirion Evans and Jonathan Jackson head north in the Toyota Yaris GR Rally2 after two solid finishes on the car’s UK debut campaign.  Third overall at the season opener has been a highlight so far and with additional asphalt mileage outside of the BRC, could well hit the ground running.

After missing the Severn Valley Stages, Max McRae returns to the series after concentrating on his Junior European Rally Championship campaign. The M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 driver showed flair in the season opener but failed to make the finish. He will be hoping for more luck this time around and is re-joined by Cammy Fair in the co-driver seat.

Neil Roskell/Dai Roberts will be back on a more familiar surface after the gravel of Wales in their Fiesta Rally2. Elliot Payne/Patrick Walsh [Fiesta Rally2] are fresh from a gravel victory in the Scottish Borders last weekend whilst James Lecky/Stephen McAuley also have a quick turnaround after contesting WRC Portugal in their Citroen C3 Rally2. Kyle White is the sole JKS Team Northern Ireland runner in his Hyundai i20.

Junior British Rally Championship, BRC3 and BRC4

The Junior BRC is once again likely to be as unpredictable as ever as the progressive youngsters battle for honours. Leading the crews away is Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy hot-shot and BRC newcomer Ryan MacHugh with the experienced Arthur Kierans alongside. This will be McHugh’s maiden outing outside of Ireland and pilots a Fiesta Rally4.

Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown - Peugeot 208 Rally4
A thrilling Junior BRC battle is guaranteed (Motorsport UK)

However, a strong list of Peugeot 208 Rally4 crews will provide a strong challenge, including Welsh ace Ioan Lloyd who is joined by Gwynfor Jones. Lloyd was leading at the Severn Valley before spinning out.

Kyle McBride is last year’s Junior runner-up and has less than fond memories of the rally, but is on strong form at present with Darragh Mullen alongside. Casey Jay Coleman/Lorcan Moore are third in the standings and have enjoyed some confident runs recently, but will have round two JBRC victors Robert Proudlock/Steven Brown to contend with, and the championship leaders are on relatively home soil.

Claiming a stellar round one win, youngster Kalum Graffin will aim to get his championship back on track after a sizeable off in Wales.

In BRC4 John O’Rourke makes his championship debut with William Nolan in their Opel Corsa Rally4. The Stellantis Cup contenders will make the trip over from Wexford to tackle the two-day event. They are joined by James Lightfoot and Ula Budzynska in the Fiesta R2T.

The battle for BRC3 honours returns to a head-to-head between the Fiesta Rally3s of William Hill/Peredur Davies and Steve Waugh/Carl Williamson; each crew winning a round each so far this season.

Open Rally Title & National Rally Title

Heading the Open charge is Callum Black/Jack Morton who elects to switch from the BRC1 category this season. The Fiesta Rally2 crew will be up against the likes of newcomer Freddie Milne who throws his hat into the ring driving a Skoda Fabia R5 with Max Freeman alongside.

Duns driver Dale Robertson returns to the BRC for the first time since 2008 and has codriver Douglas Redpath alongside in a Fiesta Rally2. Round one victors Hugh Brunton and Drew Sturrock return in their Skoda Fabia, with Hugh Hunter and Rob Fagg also making an appearance in their Fiesta.

John Rintoul/Ross Hynd head the championship standings after a round two win in their Fiesta, but head to Duns in a new Citroen C3, and John Stone/Laura Marshall will be aiming for redemption after a late retirement on the North West Stages in their Polo. John Morrison/Sinclair Young tackle their second BRC round of the season in their Fiesta, whilst Willie Paterson/Tom Hynd make their series debut in a Fabia.

The National Rally Title enjoys a dynamic mix of crews and machinery, as round one winner Darren Atkinson heads a number of Ford Escort MK2 crews including Gerry Fitzelle/Phil Sandham and Matthew Dance/Jason Davies

Nathan Bolton and Phil Kenny bring their Mitsubishi Evo to the Borders, whilst Cornwall’s Roger and Tommi Henderson make the trip in their Fiesta Rally2. Chris Butcher and Jonathan Hawkins bring the nostalgia in their Nissan Sunny F2, and William Mains/Tomos Whittle continues the battle for the top of the standings in their Vauxhall Nova.