Jane, with Fraser Wilson, in 2014
Not many young drivers pick up two championships in their first year of competition. Scotland's Jane Nicol walked away from the 2003 season as Junior Champion in the Ecosse 205 Challenge rally series, as well as overall victor in the Autumn Trophy for late-season rallies. This is all pretty remarkable, as Jane, a 21-year-old nanny, had never driven a rally car before. She became interested in rallying after two high-speed passenger rides at Knockhill race circuit, one in Andrew Wood's fearsome Audi Quattro. The Ecosse 205 Challenge follows the Scottish championship and is a popular budget-controlled rally series, so the competition for trophies was strong.
Jane returned to the stages in 2004 hoping for more of the same, but her growing budget problems led to a poorly-tuned car and serious reliability issues. After a string of driveshaft breakages, the problems were eventually fixed, but it was too late to salvage the season. Assisted by her personal sponsor and sometime co-driver Chris Moore, Jane spent a portion of the winter at a Norwegian rally school in order to increase her chances of success next time.
Funding had become a big worry by the time the 2005 season rolled round, but instead of sitting out the season, Jane swapped seats and took up navigating, in both stage and off-road hill rallies. She proved a very competent co-driver and guided 205 driver Gerry Kilmurray to a class win on the Jim Clark Memorial Rally, her home event. She had previously sat beside another 205 pilot, Corrina Bell, for the Jack Frost Stages. Later on she entered the Speyside Stages with David Welsh, driving a Talbot Sunbeam. She first co-drove in 2003, apparently after being on the receiving end of a dare from Colin McRae.
She continued her role as co-driver for hire in 2006 and gained experience of a variety of cars in the Scottish championship. To date, she has read the notes for Donald Murray in a Vauxhall Astra (Scottish Rally) and Graham Holmes in an Escort MkII (Granite City Stages).
Jane made her driving comeback on the 2006 Jim Clark Rally. Back at the wheel of a Peugeot 205, she and Drew Gibson were 36th overall, fifth in class. Since then, she has concentrated on navigation. Her regular driving partner is Gordon Nichol. Together, they won the Scottish Suzuki Swift Cup in 2008. She has also sat beside Dale Robertson in an MG ZR and William Rae, Ian Grubb and Frank Balgowan.
From time to time, Jane takes the wheel herself once more. In 2007 she tackled the Colin McRae Forest Stages in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5, partnered by Kim Jones. In 2008, Jane and Kim tackled the Neath Valley Stages in a Peugeot 205, but with roles reversed. She continues to navigate for a number of drivers to this day, in Scotland and northwest England usually. In 2014, she usually sat beside either Andrew Gallacher, or Fraser Wilson. In 2015, she was usually co-driver to Andrew Gallacher, in a Ford Fiesta. The two continued their partnership in 2016, and Jane was also in demand as a navigator for hire in British rallies.
Jane's former employer is none other than former British rally star, Louise Aitken-Walker, who has encouraged her a great deal.
(Image from www.clonemotorsport.com)