Memorable Blackpool trip for Legend Fires winner Bird

Darlington and Stockton Times: BLACKPOOL ROCK: Paul Bird (Ford Focus) who won the Legend Fires North West Stages Rally last weekend BLACKPOOL ROCK: Paul Bird (Ford Focus) who won the Legend Fires North West Stages Rally last weekend

Larry Carter

THE region’s crews did themselves proud in last weekend’s Legend Fires North West Stages Rally, in Blackpool, with two local crews on the podium after the gruelling two-day event.

Leeming’s Kevin Procter and Great Langton co-driver Dave Bellerby brought their Procters Coaches Subaru WRC home just under half a minute down on the Ford Focus WRC of winner Paul Bird, from Penrith, and Welsh co-driver Aled Davies, with Butterknowle driver Chris Anderson and Bishop Auckland co-driver Chris Thirling claiming third in their lesser-powered twowheel drive Ford Fiesta.

Procter was looking to add to his victory of 2011 and set the pace on Friday night’s opening stage but was immediately hit with a controversial one minute road penalty for allegedly clocking in to a control early. Although the team protested, it was agreed that the matter wouldn’t be considered until the end of the event, leaving the local transport contractor to right his way back through the field.

This he did with a string of fastest times throughout the remainder of the rally but Bird had built up a sufficient lead to manage it carefully and the provisional results showed Procter in second, one minute 26 seconds behind, although in the final results, the penalty was scrubbed and his deficit to Bird was down to 26 seconds.

For Anderson, it was the latest in a string of excellent drives from the youngster in the Chris Birkbeck-prepared Ford Fiesta who set an amazing fourth fastest time on SS1 before dropping down the order at the overnight halt. A string of top ten times in the final stages saw him up to fourth overall and with a brilliant effort on the last stage, he clinched third overall by only two seconds.

THREE former winners head a class entry for the Procter’s Luxury Coaches Riponian Rally on Sunday.

Ripon’s Charlie Payne along with Pocklington’s Craig Thorley romped to an easy win in last year’s event to make it seven victories in total for Payne on the annual Ripon Motor Sport Club event and he’ll be looking to retain his title seeded one in his Ford Focus WRC.

Having missed the event last year and crashing out the year before, event sponsor Kev Procter and co-driver Dave Bellerby are back in action in their Subaru WRC and looking to add to the wins of 2004 and 2006, while 2008 winner Tim Pearcey, from Thirsk, stands a great chance of repeating the feat in his Willowgreen Homes-backed Ford Escort Mk2 in the popular Historic class which runs first on the road.

However, all three have a very strong entry of over 60 crews to contend with when the action gets under way from Thirsk Auction Mart on Sunday followed by the competitive stage mileage using the western fringes of the North Yorkshire Moors forests around Sutton Bank and Helmsley.

Thirsk Rural Business Centre also provides main service and the finish facilities. The first car will leave the start at 08.30 for two loops of six stages with the midway service halt at 11.38. Crews are expected to arrive back at the finish at approx 15.28.

Because the roads around many of the stages are narrow with limited parking the organisers have arranged two spectator parking areas with easy access to the Roppa and College Moor stages. Car parking is £10 per car for the day and the ticket will give access to both parking areas for as many times needed.

Spectator parking is available at Roppa, accessed from Helmsley by turning off the A170 via Carlton to enter the forest as directed. The first car is due at 09.23 and returning at 13.13. Spectator parking for the College Moor stage is gained off the A170 with cars scheduled for 10.42 and 14.32. There is no parking on the side of the A170 whereby police will be patrolling the area and issuing tickets if necessary.

There is strictly no provision for spectators at any of the other venues as there is no parking available or the areas are PR sensitive and police will be monitoring traffic. Further information is available at riponian.co.uk

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