Change of date for pop­u­lar rally event

Sunday Sun - - Basketball -

ONE of the re­gion’s most-loved rally events will roar into ac­tion next week­end – a cou­ple of weeks ear­lier than usual.

This year, the an­nual Swift Signs & Shirts Christ­mas Stages Rally is be­ing held be­fore Christ­mas, in­stead of its usual date just be­fore New Year.

How­ever, it’s only the date that changed as the event prom­ises the same eight stages through­out the day.

Next Sun­day, De­cem­ber 16, al­most 90 cars are due to line-up from 9am to tackle around 45 miles of stages, util­is­ing var­i­ous routes of the race track and ac­cess roads.

Lead­ing the way is sev­en­time win­ner Kevin Proc­ter from nearby Northaller­ton, who will be joined by reg­u­lar co-driver Dave Bellerby in their Ford Fi­esta WRC.

But Proc­ter can ex­pect a hard fight on the day, as nu­mer­ous ri­vals will be bid­ding to cel­e­brate an early Christ­mas present by steal­ing the top prize on the day.

These are set to in­clude Bev­er­ley’s Guy Smith and Pa­trick Walsh, Tony Bardy and Tony Walker and Peter Stephen­son and Ian Win­dress.

Back again this year will be stunt star Paul Swift and his wife Jes­sica in their stun­ning Ford Es­cort, while jour­nal­ist and broad­caster Larry Carter and Ge­orgina Smith are also on the list.

De­spite the change of date, ev­ery­thing will re­main as it usu­ally does, with Stage One kick­ing-off at 9am.

From there, cars will leave at 30-sec­ond in­ter­vals and the ac­tion will con­tinue all day, with at least the fi­nal stage set to run in com­plete dark­ness.

Croft’s raised view­ing ar­eas will give spec­ta­tors the chance to see just about all of the ac­tion with­out mov­ing, and food vans will be on hand through­out the day.

The event will fea­ture the usual open pad­dock area where visitors can get up close to the cars and meet the driv­ers and teams in be­tween stages.

The event forms the first round of the 2019 North of Eng­land Tar­mac Rally Cham­pi­onship, which will add an ex­tra level of com­pet­i­tive­ness to the day as ev­ery­one bat­tles hard.

Tick­ets are avail­able on the gate priced at £10 per per­son, and as ever, ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren un­der 15 get in free.

The rally will mark the fi­nal event on Croft’s cal­en­dar for 2018, but fans of all things rac­ing don’t have too long to wait until the next one.

The 2019 ac­tion at the Dar­ling­ton track will be­gin in Fe­bru­ary with the Jack Frost Rally on Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 17.

The Jack Frost is or­gan­ised by Dar­ling­ton & Dis­trict Mo­tor Club and is held early each year.

This will host the sec­ond round of the North of Eng­land Tar­mac Rally Cham­pi­onship and tick­ets are avail­able now, priced at £9 in ad­vance but will be £12 on the day.

To book tick­ets, visit the web­site: www.croft­cir­

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