Motorsport broadcaster and journalist Larry Carter celebrates when Leeming businessman Kevin Procter cemented his place in British motorsport folklore by winning in France in 2012

WHETHER it be in rallying or rallycross, the name of Kevin Procter has featured heavily in these pages on a regular basis as one of the most successful drivers over the past 25 years.

Son of a Bedale taxi driver, Procter has gradually built a reputation as a prominent businessman who now owns a group of companies specialising in the mass transportation sector. (Buses to you and me…) He’s also landlord of a couple of establishments in Leeming Bar, a busy husband, father, and granddad, so you wouldn’t think he has much time for hobbies.

On the contrary, Kevin subscribes to the old adage, work hard, and play harder and indeed, his philosophy has seen him reap remarkable success on and off the track.

Yorkshire and immensely proud of it, Procter has won dozens of events all over the country including at Croft, where his list of victories on the Christmas Stages and Jack Frost rallies makes impressive reading alone. He’s won British Rallycross Championship rounds up and down the country and even took outright victory at the British Rallycross Superprix in 2009 to become the first British winner.

In an impressive array of powerful cars, ranging from the original Ford Sierra and Sapphire Cosworths, through a range of Subaru Imprezas and latterly in a Ford Focus or Fiesta, Procter always puts on a good show for the fans and is hugely popular because of that.

His banger racing background makes him uncompromising on track and he isn’t shy to make his presence felt on your back bumper. Woe betide you if you don’t yield when given a subtle reminder, but you could never accuse him of being dirty. Forceful, yes. Persuasive, perhaps. Competitive, most definitely, but either way, at the end of the race or stage, he’ll bound over and rip the mickey out of you, whilst expecting twice as much back. He likes a laugh does Kev, and if it’s at his own expense then even better!

History is littered with British battles against the French. King Henry V’s triumph at Agincourt in 1415 was one example before Joan of Arc wrested back honours in the Siege of Orleans 14 years later. The Napoleonic wars encompassed Admiral Lord Nelson’s defeat of the French (and Spanish) off Cape Trafalgar in southern Spain in 1805 before the Duke of Wellington eventually saw off the French and with it the demise of Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo (in Belgium) in 1815.

Whilst not on the same scale, the battle of Dreux in 2012 is well remembered in British rallycross folklore. The town nestles in the Centre-Val de Loire region of Northern France and boasts an impressive Autodrome which regularly features international events. Back in 2012, it hosted round two of the European Rallycross Championship whereby all the Continental big hitters took on a smattering of Brits who had made the trip over the English Channel.

Along with the likes of fellow British drivers Liam Doran and Andy Scott, ‘Kev-The -Rev’ was hoping for a good showing in his recently-acquired and Procter’s Coaches-backed Ford Focus WRC in which he’d had some early success in the UK. A Procter road trip with his bunch of merry teamsters is always fun and occasionally anarchic, and the transporter is usually party central in the paddock, but when it gets down to the business of competition, then it gets very serious indeed.

Procter (20) leads the pack into the opening corner on an historic weekend Picture: TIM WHITTINGTON/RALLYCROSSWORLD.COM

Procter (20) leads the pack into the opening corner on an historic weekend Picture: TIM WHITTINGTON/RALLYCROSSWORLD.COM

The weekend started off in relatively inconspicuous fashion for Procter, as up against two dozen or so of the best drivers in the world, he negotiated the qualifying heats in unspectacular fashion to emerge from 15th before claiming a place in the all-important top ten. That meant he'd qualified for the ‘C’ Final, but more importantly on the front row of the grid to give him an excellent chance of progressing.

In the six-lap race, Kevin shot off the line in his 600bhp projectile, which accelerates faster than an F1 car, to snatch the lead on the opening corner. There he stayed and kept out of trouble to take an easy win which meant he went onto the back row of the ‘B’ Final. This time, the challenge was much tougher as with seven other cars, getting to the front would be difficult.

Difficult, but not impossible and aided by some shenanigans on the opening corner, Procter avoided the clashing cars to emerge in fourth place. He was up to second by lap two and was now in with a real chance of progressing which he did by bringing the Focus home in second place behind Russian Timor Timerzyanov (Citroën DS3). With the top two going onto the back row of the ‘A’ Final, Kevin found himself in his first ever major final which was a feat in itself.

Procter knew he’d need to drive out of his skin to get through the field and would need a big slice of luck if he was to challenge for a podium. Somehow, he managed both. The cars blasted off the line in a cloud of dust and once it had cleared, Liam Doran’s Citroen DS3 was going no further with broken steering on turn one after a clash with series leader Jerome Grosset-Janin’s Renault Clio.

Kevin had somehow skirted past the carnage and by the end of lap one was remarkably up to third place which soon became second. Local hero Davy Jeanney was in front but then inexplicably, his Citroen C4 ground to a halt which left Procter in the lead. The impressive contingent of Union Flags in the crowd went wild as surely, he couldn’t pull this off, could he?

Next came the joker lap where the Brit relinquished his lead to the Citroen Xsara WRC of Marc Laboulle but knowing the Frenchman still had that to do, Procter fought to keep the rest of the field at bay including the menacing Norwegian Alexander Hvaal in his Citroen C4. Laboulle jokered on the penultimate lap and as they emerged, the Procter grabbed the lead and with it the advantage as they headed for the chequered flag.

Kevin with the winner’s trophy Picture: TIM WHITTINGTON/RALLYCROSSWORLD.COM

Kevin with the winner’s trophy Picture: TIM WHITTINGTON/RALLYCROSSWORLD.COM

To the roars of the crowd, Procter had done it and pulled off one of the most magnificent achievements in rallycross history. He’d beaten the best in the world, and he’d done it the hard way. Only twice before in the history of the ERC, which began in 1973, had the feat been accomplished as Procter become only the third driver to do it, and the first since Richard Hutton in 1994.

The Procter party that night was as impressive as the victory and the team celebrated long into the night, so much so they missed the prizegiving! The ‘C-B-A’ hasn’t been done since and isn’t likely to be but it’s something that Procter and his dedicated team will never forget. And no one deserves it more.

  • Thanks to Tim Whittington for his help with this feature.