Christmas Stages Rally at Croft preivew

For the third successive year, The Specsavers Christmas Stages Rally, to be held at Croft Circuit near Darlington on Sunday 28th December 2003, has attracted a capacity entry with a whole host of exotic cars and quality drivers set to compete...

For the third successive year, The Specsavers Christmas Stages Rally, to be held at Croft Circuit near Darlington on Sunday 28th December 2003, has attracted a capacity entry with a whole host of exotic cars and quality drivers set to compete yet again.

Leading the cars away will be last year's winners Paul Bird (Penrith) and co driver Larry Carter (Northallerton) in their very latest Hyundai Accent WRC that took them to victory on the Cambrian Rally a couple of months ago.

But the boss of the double title winning MonsterMob Ducati British Superbike Championship team will face stiff opposition from all quarters, not least from last year's runners up, Scotsmen John Bogie and Davie Paterson (Dumfries) in their recently acquired ex National Tarmac Championship winning MG Metro 6R4.

Also fighting for honours will be the crew who finished third last year, Tony Bardy (Scotch Corner) and Reg Smith (Richmond) whose Nissan Sunny GTI-R is undergoing a rebuild in preparation for the 40 stage mile event which comprises a round of two regional championships.

The Subaru WRC of Tyneside pairing David Turnbull and Ken Bills should prove a useful tool around the North Yorkshire track and with three former winners in the ranks in the shape of Kevin Procter (Leeming) in a Subaru, Sacriston's David Henderson (Mitsubishi) and Northallerton garage proprietor Charlie Taylor (Ford Escort), the battle should be intense.

British Historic Rally Champion Steve Perez will be a busy man on the event as he drives not one but two cars guaranteed to please the expected bumper crowd. Not content with competing in a 320bhp Porsche 911 -- dubbed 'The Monster' -- the Chesterfield driver will be at the wheel of his ex Hannu Mikkola Audi Quattro Sport giving demonstration runs and charity passenger rides to fans and marshals. All proceeds will be donated to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and a sliding auction will be held on the day.

Other interesting entries have come from top UK Rallycrosser Dave Bellerby (Northallerton) who should be a threat in the two wheel drive class as indeed will Stockton runner Keith Davison in his purpose built Darrian. Mark Bird (Penrith) will use the same Hyundai Accent WRC that took brother Paul to victory last year and he will have the experienced Ian Windress (Northallerton) on the maps for his debut event.

The first of the eight stages gets underway at 09.15 with the final runs expected as darkness falls, prior to the awards presentation at Croft Spa Hotel.

Gates open at 8.15 am and admission costs £5.00 per adult with accompanied children free and entry lists, with proceeds going to Northallerton Scouts, will be on sale at 50p each. Cash bids for the passenger rides in Steve Perez's Audi Quattro should be made at his service vehicle in the service area.

-cc-

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Series RALLY