RIPON driver Charlie Payne and his County Durham counterpart Stephen Petch were in top form at last weekend’s Rainworth Skoda Dukeries Rally when they brought their respective Ford Focus WRCs home in first and second position respectively.

The Mansfield event comprised round five of the REIS - Get Connected BTRDA Rally Series and was played out in the fast and dusty tracks of Sherwood Forest and from the start, Payne and Welsh co-driver Paul Spooner assumed command with Hamsterley’s Petch and Northallerton codriver Ian Windress giving chase.

After four stages, Payne’s 2006 car held a ten second advantage over the 2008 version of Petch’s as Lancastrian driver David Wright, co-driven by Crook’s Michael Wilkinson, joined in the battle for the lead in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9 before a problem on SS8 dropped them down the order to end up in 12th at the finish.

All the time, Petch was nibbling away at Payne’s lead and clawed a few valuable seconds back on three of the next four tests before Payne had a big push on the final stage to emerge victorious by 17 seconds at the finish with a gallant Petch just behind. The result sees Payne grab the lead in the title race, with Petch up to fifth after missing the opening round as they head for the next round in Wales next month.

Ripon’s Matthew Robinson and Helperby co-driver Nigel Hutchinson endured more wretched 2013 luck when they retired their Ford Escort Mk 2 on SS8 with gearbox problems.

In the battle of the 1400 class, Thirsk’s Mat Smith and Barnard Castle co-driver Giles Dykes were looking to continue their good form but sadly transmission problems forced them out in their Ford Ka on just the third stage to dent their championship aspirations.

However, the honour was upheld by Smith’s girlfriend, Amanda Cornforth, who brought the Ford Ka she was sharing with her father, Derek, home in 51st place overall and seventh in the S1400 class. Kirkbymoorside pairing Alan and Rachel Ward claimed 70th overall and fifth in class in their Vauxhall Nova.

JUNIOR British Rallycross competitor Charlie Bean, 15, from Northallerton, has been offered an opportunity to compete in at least one round FIA European Rallycross Championship within the all new JRX (Junior Rallycross) category.

The invite came from 14- times European champion and now Citroen team boss, Kenneth Hansen who is involved with promotion of the new Junior Championship.

Kenneth made a call to Charlie’s father Johny highlighting an interest in Charlie’s British campaigns and offered the chance to race a full specification 4WD JRX car at round six in Sweden on July 6 and 7 of the newly reformed FIA endorsed series.

The Swedish event has a huge history on the European Rallycross tour and is often referred to as one of the best events on the calendar and while being branded “The Magic Weekend” will see more than 27,000 spectators descend on the Hljes circuit among a wealth of world class talent who will deliver an array of high quality racing over the two-day festival.

The recently rebranded RallycrossRX championship is currently going through a major transformation by series promoter, IMG who are bringing some world class names to the competition with the likes of American superstars Brian Deegan, Tanner Foust and also Norwegian former world rally champion Petter Solberg.

Charlie is also making an appeal to potential sponsors as the event will be televised live on Eurosport and highlighted footage will be repeated during the following weeks, potentially reaching 450 million homes.

BISHOP Auckland’s Neville Alderson, mainstay of Croft Circuit based Croft Engineering, set fastest time of the day in the Classic and Vintage Hillclimb at Harewood last Saturday.

Driving a 1600cc Nike Mk 7, and with three cars within half a second, Alderson’s victory was close.

Leeming all-rounder Kevin Procter continued his season of globetrotting following on his recent European Rallycross Championship exploits in France and Hungary in the Ford Focus, he ventured over to the Caribbean to contest Rally Barbados.

After a three year absence and along with Great Langton co-driver Dave Bellerby, the pair claimed fifth in the previous weekend’s King of the Hill event in front of thousands of fans on the 2.5km Luke Hill course in St Lucy in their Procters Coaches Subaru Impreza WRC S7. Last weekend’s SOL Rally Barbados saw the pair overcome the mixed weather conditions as well as a mechanical problem which caused a small fire to bounce back from 26th to run seventh for the next 19 stages before losing out by just one second on the final stage to end up eighth.