Newton Stewart: Rally preview

Park Systems Furniture Stages 2002 Record number of entries for rally set toattract thousands to Wigtownshire TOP rally drivers from across the country will descend on Newton Stewart and its surrounding forests this weekend for the final round...

Park Systems Furniture Stages 2002
Record number of entries for rally set toattract thousands to Wigtownshire

TOP rally drivers from across the country will descend on Newton Stewart and its surrounding forests this weekend for the final round of the New Pig Scottish Rally Championship.

At last count 123 entries had been received for the Park Systems Furniture Stages, the penultimate round in the Kumho National Rally Championship.

With drivers coming from all corners of the country, from as far afield as Wales, Ireland, Isle of Man and Inverness to take part, the event, which only last year moved to Newton Stewart, is sure to be a success.

Taking in over 100 competitive miles in the forests of South West Scotland over two events, the rally is set to attract thousands of spectators to some of the best-known stages in the country.

Well known names can already be spotted on the entry list including Steve Petch in his Hyundai Accent WRC and Roger Duckworth in his Impreza WRC for an event that marks a welcome return to Scotland of the UK National Rally Series.

Leading the field this year will be Neale Dougan, of Ayr, who won the event last year followed by a number of local drivers including Craig McMiken in his Mitsubishi Lancer and Alexander Curran in his Talbot Sunbeam, both of Newton Stewart. There are also several crews from across Dumfries and Galloway.

Other names to watch on the event will be Graham Middleton in his Toyota WRC and Mark Perrot in his Escort WRC.

Renowned for its excellent forests which provide a superb challenge for drivers, the area was seen by rally organisers as the ideal location to move to from its former location in Ayr.

Chairman of the organising committee, Roy Campbell, said he thought it was good for both the rally and the area.

"It is good for the event bringing it to an area which such excellent standard f forests and it is also bringing a lot to the community and the people in it," he said.

An excellent example of the community becoming involved in the event was the school poster competition held over the summer

Only last week the winners, Claire Donnan of Stranraer Academy and Vicky Wilson, formerly of Port Wiliam Primary School received their prizes for designing the wining posters.

Although last year's event was almost cancelled with the foot and mouth crisis, organisers pulled out all the stops in a bid to boost spirits and visitor numbers in the region and arranged for it to go ahead as scheduled.

Speaking of this tremendous boost for the tourist industry in the Newton Stewart area, Andy Kelly of event sponsors Park Systems Furniture, said: "We are delighted to support the event in 2002. The inclusion in the National Rally Series will attract more competitors and spectators to the area at the end of the tourist season.

"We were delighted last year when the people of Newton Stewart welcomed the event with open arms and it is that positive friendly approach to the rally by them which has most definitely assisted us in the decision for inclusion in the ANCRO Championship.

"Last year, although foot and mouth had an effect on the number of entries, representatives from the ANCRO championship still felt the event should be included for this year."

Starting and finishing in Newton Stewart there are two main events on the day. The National "A" event will consist of 68 stage miles over six stages and the National "B" event, for competitors in the New Pig Scottish Rally Championship, the inaugural ANCRO Clubman's Series and the West of Scotland Stage Rally, Scottish Borders and Scottish Historic Championships, will comprise of 45 stage miles over four stages.

A spokesman for the organising clubs, Machars Car Club and Scottish Sporting Car Club, said: "This is an excellent opportunity for the event to establish itself as a major date in the national rallying calendar, and for the past 12 months the organising committee have been working hard to ensure it is a success, adding to the profile of the rally and putting Newton Stewart and the surrounding area firmly on the map for motorsport.

"With the support of the local community and Forest Enterprise we hope to be able to run a memorable event which reflects favourably the challenge on offer in the Scottish stages, and to welcome the cream of British Clubman's rallying to sample the hospitality of the people of the south-west of Scotland."

Being only 25 miles from Stranraer the event has also attracted widespread interest from competitors from Ireland, giving a unique opportunity for competitors from all over the United Kingdom to battle it out for overall supremacy.

The 2002 New Pig Scottish Rally Champion will also receive FREE entry into the final round of the Kumho Tyres National Rally Championships, the Bulldog Rally, based in Shrewsbury on Saturday October 19.

Times and spectating - All cars in the National `A' event will be leaving the start ramp at the Riverside Car Park in Newton Stewart from 9am with National `B' drivers leaving from 10.30 onwards with first car due back at around 4.30pm.

Spectating car parks will be available at two of the stages - `Risk' and `Arroch Hill'. Spectators are advised to avoid viewing at the other stages as no parking will be available. First car is due at `Risk' at 9.17am and at 1.28pm and at `Arroch Hill' at 10.10am and later at 2.21pm.

Spectators are advised to park sensibly at all times and where possible in the designated car parks. Police will be in attendance.

While on the stage spectators should follow the advice of marshals for both their own safety and the drivers and should not stand in cordoned-off areas. Stages will not run if the marshals feel there is a spectator problem.

Note to editors: For all media enquiries contact the Press Officer for the event, Lee Kerr, on 07775 878 540 or by email to lee@parkstages.com

More up -to-date spectating information will be available early next week.

-pfs-

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