NORTH Yorkshire has a reputation for producing promising young rally drivers but more often than not, their talent is compromised by the need for financial support to counter the substantial costs of competing.

But in the case of Joe Cunningham, the 29-year-old has impressed sufficiently in recent years to have gained the backing of a local business who have agreed to support him in his quest for success.

Procter’s Luxury Coaches, along with their subsidiary Procter’s Coach and Bus Sales, which are based in Joe’s home village of Leeming Bar, have recently supplied Joe with a state-of-the-art Ford Fiesta R5 in which to compete in 2022, following a number of impressive performances in recent times in lesser machinery.

A former junior rallycross champion, Cunningham quickly rose through the rallying ranks in a Peugeot 106 before a few events in a Subaru Impreza and latterly in a hired Ford Fiesta, which culminated in a number of impressive performances including winning the Phoenix Stages Rally outright.

As a result, Joe, and co-driver Josh Beer, also from Leeming Bar, have been invited to contest Rally Barbados in June, which will be followed by a prized invitation to compete at the McRae Rally Festival at Knockhill in Scotland a month later, as part of the tribute to British legend Colin McRae, who died in a helicopter crash in 2007.

Prior to that, Joe and Josh will contest the inaugural East Riding Stages Rally which takes place around the closed public roads near Beverley this weekend before an outing on next month’s Legend Fires North West Stages Rally based near Preston.

Joe said: “I can’t thank everyone at Procter’s enough for their support, the car is fantastic to drive and gives us a real chance of success. If we can bring some silverware home from the events we plan on contesting this year, that would put Procter’s Coaches as well as ourselves well and truly on the international as well as the British map.”