Husband and wife duo Nigel and Karen Jenkins returned to the top step of the 1400 category with yet another category win on last weekend’s Brick and Steel Border Counties rally, reports PAUL WILLETTS.

The event was surprisingly omitted from the Scottish rally championship this year, but the BTRDA Championship round attracted an 80-car entry to the Jedburgh start, for the 42 miles in the Northern end of the daunting Kielder forest and Craik forestry complex.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Coleford couple’s NJ Autos Vauxhall Nova as the persistent misfire that had plagued them on the previous round returned on the morning loop, which saw them drop to fourth in the 1400 category at halfway.

But with the misfire cured they were on a mission with some excellent stage times, although first place appeared out of the reach with Kris Farrell’s Proton well out in front.

However, with just two tests remaining it all turned on its head, with second place man Lewis Hooper firstly crashing out, then leader Farrell hitting trouble losing a tyre on the final stage.

This handed the Forest duo a very satisfying, if surprising, 1400 win and 39th overall and they now head the BTRDA 1400 Bronze series.

Also in the silverware was young Bream driver Luke Watts co-driven by Matt Rogers in his Ian Watts & Son MG ZR.

They had another excellent event finishing 52nd overall and third in class 1400C, despite a misting windscreen which cost them time.

“I struggled a bit for commitment on the fast stages where bravery was rewarded,” said Luke.

“I was conscious I didn’t want to go off and it was so easy to go off, but I enjoyed the stages and in hindsight if I had pushed harder I may have won the 1400C class.”

Making up the trio of local crews going North were Ben Friend and Monmouth’s Cliffy Simmons in the Allglass Anglia-backed Escort RS1800 looking to build on their BTRDA Historic championship lead.

They set three fastest historic times on the fast stages, but hit a big rock on the penultimate test and this punted them into a deep Kielder ditch and there was no way back, their first retirement due to an accident in seven years.

The championship returns to Kielder in mid-June for the compact Kielder Forest Rally based in Hexham using mainly the Southern end of the vast complex around Kielder Water.