THE twentieth running of the Legend Fires North West Stages Rally last weekend proved another tough event for a number of local competitors who ventured over for the two-day encounter based in Blackpool.
However, that wasn’t the case for Richmond brothers, Mark and Andrew Constantine, who continued their enviable record on the event with another superb class win in their CBS-backed 1600cc Vauxhall Corsa. The pair had to overcome the treacherous conditions due to the after effects of Storm Doris as well as brake problems on Friday night but came home in a fantastic 12th overall, over two minutes to the good over their nearest class rivals.
It was a coast to coast trip for Saltburn’s Neil Colman who guided local ace Chris Ford to a fighting fourth place overall in their Subaru Impreza WRC whilst Northallerton duo, Larry Carter and Georgina Smith, had to overcome a broken fan and bent rear axle to bring their RWS Bodyworks-backed Peugeot 206 home in 32nd overall and fifth in class.
Out of the 100 starters, only 54 saw the finish after 70 testing stage miles over 22 stages around Blackpool, Fleetwood and Weeton with many of the region’s fancied runners falling by the wayside.
First to retire was Bishop Auckland driver Andrew Grimstone who along with Durham’s Colin Tombs on the maps, broke the rear suspension on their Mitsubishi Lancer on only the second stage on Friday night. SS9 in Weeton Camp on Saturday morning claimed Pickhill’s Bruce Lindsay in the Chonka MOTs-supported Ford Focus he was sharing with Michael Farmer when they went off the road. However, the same stage saw the demise of former winners Tony Bardy from Scotch Corner and Mickleton co-driver Tony Walker who broke the rear wheel and strut after colliding with a kerb in their Ford Focus WRC when challenging for the lead.
Another giant-killing performance from Harrogate duo Ben and Kevin Wilson came to an end when their Park View Stores-backed Citroen AX’s electrics failed halfway through the event with a similar problem besetting the Ford Escort Mk2 of Malton driver Rob Snowden and co-driver Tommy Rogers after SS11.
There was even bigger heartbreak for two other local crews, both of whom got to within one stage of the finish before retiring. Sinderby’s Bill Bates along with daughter Kari from Pickhill broke the front suspension on their Tanfield Engineering-backed Peugeot 106 on SS21 in Weeton whilst Darlington driver Ian Cartwright, partnered by Hartburn’s Ian Jackson, endured electrical failure within sight of the finish on their Skoda Felicia after an excellent showing.