Pirelli previews Jim Clark International Rally
The fourth round of the MSA British Rally Championship will take place in the Scottish Borders next week; the 41st running of the Jim Clark International Rally (1-3 June). Pirelli is tyre supplier to the championship, and will take a mixture of 15” to 17” RX7 and RE7 asphalt tyres to the fourth – and first all-asphalt – round of the UK’s premier rally series. The popularity of the Jim Clark International is underlined by Pirelli UK Motorsport’s operation manager, Matthew Corby: “Apart from Wales Rally GB – a round of the FIA World Rally Championship – the Jim Clark International Rally attracts the greatest number of spectators of any British rally.”
Based in the rural counties of Berwickshire and Roxburghshire, the Jim Clark International Rally is unique in being the only UK mainland event that is run on closed public roads. First held in 1970, the event was inaugurated in memory of Jim Clark, the legendary two-time Formula One World Champion, who came from the area.
The RX7 is a soft compound (medium) tyre for dry conditions, while the RE pattern in the same compound is for dry and damp conditions and can be used as a full wet. The N3 will also be available in 15-inch size for very wet conditions. Over the course of the three-day event that covers 152 competitive kilometres, the crews will put the asphalt rubber through its paces for the first time this year.
Corby continued: “The nature of the terrain offers easy and regular access for rally fans, and it is a hugely unique event in that it is held on closed public roads. With the hot weather in recent weeks, the roads are expected to be very dry and we look forward to creating a different challenge for the crews with the use of our asphalt RX7 and RE7 Pirelli tyres for the first time this year.
With Citroen continuing to lead manufacturers battle with 109 points, both Renault and Ford will be looking for a healthy points haul in order to overhaul the French marque. Former Pirelli Star Driver, Elfyn Evans, will also be eager to hold his lead at the top of the drivers’ standings, where he currently holds a three-point advantage over fellow Welshman Tom Cave.
Pirelli Star Driver’s asphalt challenge
This year’s Pirelli Star Driver, Jukka Korhonen, has recently returned from his native Finland where he has been busy competing in rounds of his home championship. Having already gained vast experience of gravel, the Finn will make his competitive debut on asphalt in a TEG Sport prepared Skoda Fabia R2.
“Next weekend will be my first ever rally on asphalt so it’s going to be a big challenge,” explained Korhonen. “We’ve already had one test in my Ford Fiesta R2 at home and we’ll benefit from a couple more test days before the rally. I’ve been concentrating how to make the best use of the grip that asphalt and Pirelli tyres have to offer and I’m feeling well prepared.”
Korhonen added: “Now my strategy for the second half of the season is to improve on our second place finishes in the R2 class: we want to replace them with some class victories!”
“The asphalt will undoubtedly provide an added difficulty for Jukka [Korhonen]. He has very little experience driving on sealed surfaces, but the pre-event test will help increase his confidence going into the rally and stand him in good stead for a points finish.”