The Roger Al­bert Clark Rally has boasted star win­ners and en­tries so far

Motor Sport News - - Insight: R.a.c. Rally -

The en­try for the in­au­gu­ral Roger Al­bert in 2004 was mod­est, but a fine bat­tle de­vel­oped be­tween Malcolm Wil­son and Stig Blomqvist. Wil­son’s charge fi­nally came to an end up a Kielder fire­break and Blomqvist won in style. “It is no dif­fer­ent to 1983! This is the way the rally is sup­posed to be,” said Blomqvist. A year later the 2005 edi­tion was a real toughie, as fog and ice cov­ered 29 stages. “It’s just like a proper RAC Rally,” said Mark Hig­gins af­ter dom­i­nat­ing the rally.

Snow and ice was also a fea­ture in 2006, the heart­break year for Jeremy Eas­son and Alun Cook. Un­be­liev­ably, the rally was de­cided in the fi­nal mile when Eas­son’s throt­tle link­age came apart and he lost vic­tory as Jimmy Mcrae swept ahead. Mcrae was in the spot­light a year later af­ter a mighty bat­tle with Steve Ban­nis­ter, and only a punc­ture in Kielder set­tled the mat­ter for Yorkshire ace Ban­nis­ter.

There was un­fin­ished busi­ness for Malcolm Wil­son and he re­turned in 2008 to take a com­mand­ing win. “It’s so sweet to win my hero’s rally,” said Wil­son. Gwyn­daf Evans was an­other star win­ner in 2009 and then again in 2011. His se­cond vic­tory marked the third over­all win for ace co-driver John Milling­ton.

Deep snow in Yorkshire and Kielder and freez­ing con­di­tions made the 2010 rally an in­cred­i­ble test and through it all for vic­tory came Bel­gians Ste­faan Stouf and Joris Erard in their Ford Es­cort Mk1. Hep­pen­stall and his team worked mir­a­cles to run an event in such con­di­tions and com­pletely re-routed the fi­nal day into Ker­shope for­est when the main Kielder block was deep in snow.

The 2012 rally was an ut­terly com­pelling event as an epic lead bat­tle raged be­tween Marty Mc­cor­mack and Ban­nis­ter. Both drove bril­liantly and nei­ther de­served to come se­cond as Mc­cor­mack clinched it on the fi­nal stage.

The 2013 rally pro­vided Ban­nis­ter and Kevin Rae with a rather more straight­for­ward vic­tory, while the most re­cent event in 2014 fell to Matthew Robin­son and Sam Collis. In each year, an Open Rally has run along­side the his­torics for all twowheel-drive cars and Ban­nis­ter, Dave Hem­ming­way and Mar­tyn Hawk­swell have all been mul­ti­ple win­ners. In 2014, Nigel Bar­ber drove the doors off his Vaux­hall As­tra to be­come the only non-Es­cort driver on the event’s roll of hon­our.

Rally leg­end Stig Blomqvist won the first R.A.C. in 2004 against Wil­son Gwyn­daf Evans:win­ner in ’09,’11 Martin Mc­cor­mack: tight 2012 win

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