|The Jim Clark Challenge Rally|
Paula Swinscoe and Phil Scholes contest the first round of the BRC Challenge.
Phil Scholes from Blackburn contested the Jim Clark Challenge Rally, the first round of the BRC Challenge on tarmac, at the end of May. Once again he was without his regular co-driver, Bradley Johnson, who has been working abroad for a number of weeks, and so was co-driven by Paula Swinscoe.
The first three stages of the event were run on the Friday evening. Scholes, who was lying 2nd in the championship, had not previously driven the Fiesta ST on tarmac, and so the pair had a slightly tentative start for the first spectator stage, a short dash through the streets of Duns, the legendary racing driver’s home town. They were getting to grips with the next stage, Bothwell, setting 5th quickest time, but disaster struck on the Abbey St Bathans stage, when the front right wheel slipped off the edge of the road 2 miles from the start in the dark causing a puncture and immediate deflation. With the stage being 12.9 miles long, there was no option but to stop and change the wheel, and the pair lost around 4 minutes, and had dropped to a disappointing 17th overall by the end of the night.
Scholes knew that he really had no chance of an overall podium finish, but a good result in the Fiestas was still achievable, so the pair set about attacking the five Saturday stages. Catching the previous car on Stage 7, Polwarth, resulted in eighth quickest time and 2nd Fiesta to the charging Jack Rowe in the only R2 and class RC5 Fiesta, but was bettered on Stage 8, Edrom, where they were 3rd quickest overall. They once again caught the car in front on Stage 9, Ayton, one of the two stages to run a “split and merge”, and managed to overtake when the other car went wide at a hairpin, but unfortunately the hold up dropped them back to 8th quickest time.
The pair were absolutely flying for the final 2 stages, Eccles and Swinton, and set 3rd quickest times on both stages, in the process discovering that Swinton crossroads is indeed flat in 5th in a Fiesta, but that the resultant bounce tends to throw the back end up in the air on the following crest! However, they were still pleased to have finished up 11th overall, 6th in class and 3rd Fiesta.
That result has dropped Scholes to 3rd in the BRC Challenge, but he is still leading the Fiesta Sport Challenge going into the next round, the Todd’s Leap Ulster Rally in August.