Press Release 6 - World Champion calls for rally backing

Former World Rally champion Louise Aitken-Walker has urged drivers to ensure the Tweed Valley Stages rally goes ahead, claiming they will never forget the stages or the atmosphere.

Aitken-Walker MBE won the 1990 Ladies World Championship and, hailing from the Borders, retains a trove of special memories from stages such as Elibank and Yair.

The new Tweed Valley Forest Stages Rally with Clelands is set to revive those much-loved stages next Saturday but can only run if the entry list swells.

Organisers have issued an urgent plea for a further 20 drivers to get their entries in by the cut-off point of midnight tomorrow evening (Fri), to ensure the rally takes place.

And Aitken-Walker, who has been following progress, reckons it would be a real loss to motor sport, and future generations, if the new rally did not get the green light.

"I would love to see the rally happening next Saturday," said the Scottish Sport Hall of Fame inductee.

"My own children are at an age where they are now talking about going into rallying themselves and I would take them to see these stages because they represent what rallying, for me, is all about. I have so many find memories of them.

"The stages are possibly some of the best there has ever been and, being local, I used to get a huge thrill from driving on them at Scottish rallies.

"They are a real white knuckle ride and driving ability comes to the fore because they are fast and flowing. Spectators will see some spectacular driving if the rally goes ahead, so hopefully people will get their entries in to make sure it happens."

Aitken-Walker (ladies champion) and Colin McRae, who won the 1995 overall title, remain Scotland's only world rally champions.

However, her path to the summit of the global scene started on Borders stages such as those in the Tweed Valley.

She has been checking events on the rally Facebook page and believes drivers are in for a treat, if organisers get the numbers needed.

"There was one particular hairpin that I recall. It is where everyone used to stand and the atmosphere there was brilliant. I had quite a bit of success there, which was great, being from the area. But I am sure everyone will get a lot out of the experience."

Yesterday, organisers said that more entries had arrived since their rallying call was issued but reiterated the need for interested parties to come forward.

Clerk of the Course Ian James said: "On Wednesday, we announced we needed another 20 entries by Friday midnight for the rally to run, so we asked competitors to enter this week instead of leaving it until next week. Eight of the 20 we need had arrived by Thursday morning, so we are getting there, but keep them coming."

Issued: 14 July 2011