The bi-annual Roger Albert Clark Rally took place last week with several local crews tackling the five-day marathon, which saw a mixture of success and disappointment for the region’s competitors.

The event, which harks back to the golden era of rallying in the 1970s and 1980s, saw over 150 competitors leave the Carmarthen start last Thursday morning to contest the 33 stages totalling 350 miles in Wales, Scotland, and England before finishing in Carlisle late on Monday afternoon.

Predominantly for historic vehicles, some crews built unique cars specifically for the 2023 event including Richmondshire brothers Mark and Andrew Constantine and Scruton’s Kevin Procter who all endured mixed fortunes on the rally.

The Constantines were competing in a 1300cc CBS-sponsored Vauxhall Nova and came away with 44th overall while for Procter, he was at the wheel of a Ford Sapphire Cosworth 4x4 which was liveried in retro colours for the Procters Luxury Coaches and Bus Sales team.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Mark & Andrew Constantine (Vauxhall Nova Sport)   Picture: Andy Ellis/James Ward – Chicane Media

Despite dramas on the final day, Mark and Andrew brought the Tony Bardy Motorsport-prepared car home to a superb class victory on their debut on the event but for Procter, with Welsh co-driver Jamie Edwards on the maps, they were easily leading their class but rolled out in Kielder Forest on Sunday afternoon when challenging for a top ten placing.

There was more heartbreak in Kielder too for Newton Aycliffe’s Tony Thompson with son Matt on the notes who got to within a couple of miles of the finish of the final stage on Monday afternoon only for electrical gremlins to strike on their Cobots-backed and Motoscope of Northallerton-prepared Ford Escort Mk2 after a solid run which had them well inside the top twenty.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Kevin Procter & Jamie Edwards (Ford Sapphire Cosworth)   Picture: Andy Ellis/James Ward – Chicane Media

Fellow Motoscope runner Tim Metcalfe from Barnard Castle along with co-driver Stephen McAuley retired their Ford RS1800 following SS23 on Sunday whilst Bedale’s Christopher Ingram and co-driver Paul Turner lasted two stages further before problems ended their competitive run in their Ford Escort. However, they did restart to end up in 43rd place overall.

Former winner Matt Robinson from Ripon along with regular co-driver Sam Collis got off to a flying start but hit problems on the opening day from which they were forced out in their Ford Escort. They rejoined under ‘super-rally’ rules at the weekend but encountered more problems including sliding off the road in Kielder and then stopping on the very last stage also.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Tony & Matt Thompson (Ford Escort)   Picture: Andy Ellis/James Ward – Chicane Media

Another previous winner in the RAC Open class was David Hutchinson from Boroughbridge who was sharing his Rallytravel-backed Ford Escort with Jeff Garnett but crashed out on the very first stage on Saturday morning in Scotland. Consett’s Barry Renwick was another one to suffer very early on when he and co-driver Paul Hughes had problems in the Ford Escort on only the second stage in Wales on Thursday morning. They rejoined later and ended up 77th out of the 79 finishers.

There was joy and frustration in the Morton household from Chester-le-Street as dad Phil endured a week of issues with his Mitsubishi Starion but eventually brought the car home in 23rd of the 24 finishers in the Open Rally, which was comprehensively won by his son Jack for a second consecutive RAC Rally, who was co-driving for Neil Weaver in their Opel Corsa.