NORTHALLERTON Automobile Club’s Christmas Stages Rally takes place at Croft Circuit, near Darlington on Saturday, December 28 with not only a capacity 90-car entry, but one of the strongest fields assembled for the annual meeting.

Leading the way will be four-times winners and defending champions, Kevin Procter, from Scruton, and his Little Langton co-driver Dave Bellerby, in their Procters Coaches Subaru WRC. The local duo has been victorious in four out of the past five years and start as favourites again, but it won’t be a foregone conclusion as there are a host of top crews also bidding for glory.

Pickhill’s Chris Wise once again brings his MG Metro 6R4 to Croft looking for that elusive first win at the event and once again he will be sharing the car with Tracey Taylor-West.

Also expected to be challenging is the Ford Focus WRC of rising Cumbrian star Peter Taylor with County Durham co-driver Jack Morton on the maps and the driver who is rapidly making a name for himself could well spring a surprise.

After missing the event for the past couple of years, 2005 winners, Scotch Corner’s Tony Bardy and Richmond co-driver Reg Smith, are back in action in their Nissan Sunny GTi-R but following is a car that Smith knows all about.

That’s because the unique Proton Millington of Ben Mellors and co-driver Alex Lee is one which Smith occasionally competes in while working for the World Championship MEM team which runs it. However, both Mellors and Lee suffered a nasty accident on last month’s Malton Rally which ended with hospital treatment, so this will be their comeback.

Teesside businessman Peter Stephenson swaps his gravelspecification Ford Focus WRC for his Subaru Impreza and is expected to be co-driven by Northallerton’s Ian Windress while Darlington’s Paul Swift always goes well at the Croft venue and will be looking to add to his considerable successes in his Ford Escort Mk2 which he is sharing with David Cox.

The second of the Mellors’ siblings is Ollie and he drives the Ford Escort Mk2 normally used by brother Ben, and will be co-driven by Jemma Champion, wife of former Mitsubishi Challenge winner Ryan. The Yorkshire pairing of Craig Pennington and Michael Calvert will also be in action in their Mitsubishi Lancer.

Completing the top ten is Catterick Village driver Martyn Tinker along with teenage Welsh co-driver Jacqueline Jones who will look to continue the form which has seen them land a club championship already this season.

The first car starts stage one at 9.15am and admission costs £10 for adults with accompanied children under15 being admitted free.

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