DARLINGTON rally driver Paul Swift collected the 2012 AS Performance North of England Tarmac Rally Championship trophy last week and is now planning to celebrate with the two rallies to be held at Croft during the next few weeks.

The seven-times British champion clinched the title following a superb top six placing in his Motoscope-supported 2.0 litre Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800 on the Stobart Rail Pendragon Stages in September and added his name to the impressive list of former winners including John Pye, Richard Mawson, David Robson, George Grieve, Bob Dennis, Bob Grant, Michael Glendinning and Barry Lindsay.

The success wasn’t the only one in 2012 as Paul added the Fuchs Titan Race ANCC Stage Rally Tarmac Championship to his list of achievements, which he won for a second successive year.

After collecting the award from former works driver Ryan Champion, Paul is now concentrating on the forthcoming Northallerton AC’s Christmas Stages Rally which takes place on Saturday, December 29, followed three weeks later by the Darlington and District Motor Cluborganised Jack Frost Stages Rally on Sunday, January 20.

Last year, Swift managed to finish third in both events yet ironically behind different crews on each rally. He followed Kevin Procter (Subaru WRC) and Chris Anderson (Ford Fiesta) home on the Specsavers Christmas Stages Rally and Paul Bird (Ford Focus WRC) and Martyn Tinker (Lotus Exige) on the Autogas 2000 Jack Frost Stages Rally.

Nonetheless, two podium places was an impressive achievement for Paul in a twowheel drive car on the very slippery and icy stages which normally are associated with the events and comprise around 40 miles of stages at the racing track just south of Darlington.

Paul said: “It’s great to pick up the 2012 AS Performance North East Tarmac Rally Championship trophy as that was one of my priorities at the start of the season and to see so many top drivers listed on it adds to the prestige. Now I’m planning the two rallies at Croft and we are busy preparing the car but the one thing you can never plan at this time of year is the weather. Either way, I’ll be giving each event a good shot and hope we can go one or two places better than last year before deciding what our plans are for 2013.”

DARLINGTON and District Motor Club have once again teamed up with Thirsk-based fuel conversion specialists Autogas 2000 as well as Northallerton’s specialist motorsport PR company, Cartersport for the Jack Frost Stages Rally which will take place at Croft Circuit on Sunday, January 20.

The event will again comprise up to eight stages totalling around 45 stage miles on the tarmac of the North East’s only permanent race track and will be a qualifying round of the AS Performance North of England Tarmacadam Championship 2013, Fuchs Titan Race ANCC Stage Rally Championship 2013 and the SG Petch ANECCC Stage Rally Championship 2013.

With a fast, flowing stage layout that will hopefully level the playing field once more, the event usually attracts a capacity 95 car entry, including some of the top drivers in the UK. Penrith BSB and MotoGP boss Paul Bird has won the event for the past four years and plans to return in his 2007-specification Ford Focus WRC, although he did test an M-Sport Ford Fiesta recently.

Three times winner Tony Bardy, from nearby Scotch Corner, took the victories from 2004 to 2006 and hopes to be back in action after damaging his Nissan Sunny GTi-R on the recent Tour of Mull. Meanwhile, event sponsor and Autogas 2000 boss Chris Wise took the honours in his MG Metro 6R4 in 2007 and 2008 and will be back in action to challenge for another victory to end Bird’s run.

Scrutineering and documentation take place the same day as the event from 06:00 with the first car starting at 09.15. There are classes for cars up to 1400cc, up to 1600cc, up to 2000cc, over 2000cc and all four wheeldrive cars as well as pre-1981 classic rally cars.

The entry fee is £210 and the final closing date is January 8, although competitors are advised to enter early to avoid disappointment. In a bid to help competitors financially, once again no cheques will be banked before January 3 or can be post-dated for that date instead.

For further information, call Terry Wright on 01325- 359895 (before 9pm), or via email at chair@darlingtonmotor-club.org.uk. Regulations and entry forms are now available at darlingtonmotor-club.org.uk.

CRAMLINGTON and District Motor Club have recently announced their Autocross event dates for next year.

Sponsored by S&T Roofing (Specialists) Ltd, all events will take place at their Causey Park venue which is just north of Morpeth and off the A1. The first double header weekend is on May 4 and 5, followed by single day meetings on June 9 and July 1.

The Eva Hope Autocross Grand Prix 2013 will be held over the weekend of August 24-25 with the MSA British Autocross Championship dates still to be announced.