Crash drama relived by Pendle driver

A former professional rally driver has relived the horrifying moment spectators were killed at a popular Scottish event.

Managing director of Colne’s Simpsons Skoda Neil Simpson (42) was participating in the Jim Clark Rally on Saturday when he learnt there had been a serious collision at the Little Swinton section of the route.

Photo: David Hurst'Neil Simpson, who was about to take part in the Jim Clark Rally when three spectators were killed

Photo: David Hurst'Neil Simpson, who was about to take part in the Jim Clark Rally when three spectators were killed

Three people, John Provan (64), Elizabeth Allan (63), and John Leonard Stern (71), were announced dead at the scene, while another spectator was rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in a critical condition.

The incident came just two hours after a rally car collided with five people.

According to former Fisher More High School Mr Simpson, who was close to the scene at the time of the crash, the incident has left everybody, from the spectators to the whole rallying community, in a state of shock.

The Clitheroe resident, who spent 10 years as a professional rally driver, said: “The atmosphere was just terrible, it was just shocking, and it affected everybody involved.

“The event was cancelled immediately, and we went back to the event headquarters. There were no celebrations - it was a very very sombre moment.

“I know exactly where the accident happened. It is a small bridge, and it is often attended by a lot of spectators. It is what I would describe as a tricky piece of road, and it is well known by the drivers, by the spectators, by the event organisers - therefore it is well marshalled.

“I went through that stage earlier in the day, down the piece of road where this unfortunate accident happened. I saw there were a lot of spectators there, and that they were stood in a safe place. It wasn’t an issue as far as I was concerned.”

Following the incident, organisers of the rally have been working alongside Police Scotland to ensure a full and thorough investigation can be carried out. The Scottish Government will also be commissioning a review of motorsport event safety in the country in light of the tragedy.

For Mr Simpson, whose team of seven are competing in the European Rally Championships this year, nothing more could have been done to prevent the collision at the closed road rally.

With more than 20,000 miles, hundreds of events, and masses of experience under his belt, he has never seen such a devastating set of circumstances, and has described it as an “isolated and very unfortunate” incident.

The businessman, who has competed in the Jim Clark Rally four times, said: “The Jim Clark Rally safety record has been exemplary - everybody does all they can to ensure the event is safe for everybody.

“It is now really really important that the police, the Motor Sports Association, and the event organisers are given adequate time to do their investigations and establish what happened.”