Neil Simpson will contest the Jim Clark Rally, 14 years after his last appearance on the event, in his ex-factory Simpsons ŠKODA Fabia S2000.
The 41-year-old dealer principal from Clitheroe in Lancashire will contest the two-day Jim Clark National Rally (30-31 May), as practice for the Ypres Rally (19-21 June) in Belgium – which is the next round of the FIA European Rally Championship.
The Jim Clark Rally starts in Duns – the home of Neil’s co-driver, Claire Mole – and contains 112 miles of competition on closed Tarmac country lanes before the finish in Kelso. The event is a round of the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, and has attracted an entry of almost 100 cars this year.
Neil has contested the Jim Clark Rally twice before, winning his class both times. In 1999 he finished agiant-killing 9th overall in a Volkswagen Golf TDi, and in 2000 he finished 5th overall in a Mitsubishi Evo VI, winning the GpN category by almost three minutes.
It’s the first time this year that Neil has returned to an event he has done before, although his lack of knowledge of previous courses was not reflected in the excellent results achieved so farin his Pirelli-shod Fabia S2000. He gave the Simpsons ŠKODA a magnificent debut with 1st in class and 2nd overall on the North West Stages, before finishing 1st in class and 7th overall on Rallye Le Touquet and most recently he finished 5th overall on the Circuit of Ireland Rally.
Neil said: “For us, the Jim Clark Rally is very much a test for the forthcoming Ypres Rally. We haven’t driven the Fabia S2000 in the wet, so we’re hoping it’s going to be raining in the Scottish borders. It’s unusual for a driver to say that before a Tarmac rally, but it very often rains during the Ypres Rally, and when it does conditions out there are extremely difficult. Wet roads on the Jim Clark Rally it will allow us to find a good wet-weather set-up for the car, which we can then take to Belgium and use if needed.
“I’ve done the Jim Clark Rally twice before, and I’m really looking forward to returning, as it’s the only closed road rally on the UK mainland. Claire lives in Duns and knows the roads well, so even though it’s a test, it’s still important to push on and do the best we can.”