SUB-ZERO temperatures and sheet ice meant last Saturday’s Coppermines Grizedale Stages Rally was a battle just to get to the finish as a few local competitors found out to their detriment.

Last year, Tow Law co-driver Michael Wilkinson guided Lancastrian driver David Wright to a superb victory and the pair were hoping to defend their title in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, but just a couple of miles into the opening stage, they slid off the road and into retirement, such were the treacherous conditions.

That left the Darlingtonbased SGP Motorsport team to take up the battle with the experienced pairing of Steve Petch, from Scorton, and Exelby co-driver John Richardson in the Mitsubishi Lancer with Hamsterley’s Stephen Petch along with Northallerton codriver Ian Windress in the Hyundai Accent WRC.

However, Petch and Richardson’s challenge came to an abrupt end on SS3 when the slid wide and clipped a bridge which launched the car upside down into the stream below as the crew emerged uninjured, but the rally was over for the former double winners.

That left Petch and Windress to slither and slide their way to the finish and despite numerous spins and an altercation with the flying finish boards at the end of SS4, they claimed fourth overall and first in class after 42 miles of the trickiest conditions in recent years on the Conistonbased event.

G U I S B O R O U G H - B A S E D Shaun Muir Racing (SMR) are ready to challenge for a second MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship title after announcing their 2013 line-up of James Ellison and double Australian Superbike champion Josh Waters onboard the newly-unveiled Milwaukee Yamahas.

Ellison, from Kendal, in Cumbria, returns to the team after competing in the 2012 MotoGP World Championship and is a proven title contender.

He finished runner-up in 2009 and was in contention for the title in 2010 before a crash left him sidelined with a broken femur.

Waters is set to make his debut in the British Championship after securing his second Australian title this season.

The 25-year-old first experienced the series with a visit to the Silverstone round of the Championship this year as a spectator and is now determined to secure a Showdown position in his maiden season.

The team also revealed their new livery to race fans after announcing a new title partnership with Milwaukee Tool Corporation.

DATES for the 2013 Motoscope Northern Historic Rally Championship have been provisionally announced and are as listed below. The championship presentation and dinner is now confirmed as Saturday, January 26 at the Golden Lion Hotel, in Northallerton.

Motoscope Northern Historic Rally Championship (best six scores to count) February 17: Riponian Forest Stages March 2: Malcolm Wilson Rally March 23: Border Counties Rally April 28: Tour Of Hamsterley May 4-5: Pirelli Historic Rally May 31-June 1: Jim Clark Historic June 29: RSAC Scottish Rally July 7: Greystoke Forest Stages September 28: Trackrod Historic Cup November 3: MEM Malton Stages Rally November 22-23Roger Albert Clark Rally For details of the Motoscope Northern Historic Rally Championship, visit moto or contact Mark Casey, championship co-ordinator on 07949-899619 or via email coordinator.

nhrc@yahoo. com.

CROFT Circuit, near Darlington, is gearing up for its final motorsport event of the year with the Christmas Stages Rally within its grounds on Saturday, December 29.

In recent years, the event has become a regular outing for thousands of fans fed up with the Christmas excesses and instead are hungry for high-speed action during what is generally accepted as a quiet period for motorsport.

Organised by the Northallerton Automobile Club, the Christmas Stages Rally also has a reputation for attracting large entries with 80 or more crews in a wide variety of machinery including ex-factory World Rally Cars scheduled to contest the event.

Another appeal is that all eight of the rally’s timed special stages are held within the perimeters of Croft Circuit, which means spectators can see the vast majority of the action as well as rub shoulders with drivers during a permanent service area where mechanics will work on fettling the cars in between stages.

All-day tickets for the event can be booked for £7 at or £10 at the gate. Admission for accompanied children aged 15 and under is free. Gates open at 8am with the rally action getting under way at 9am.