Roger Albert Clark Rally 2017

News (continued)

15th November 2017: McCormack wins Roger Albert Clark Rally, continued....

The Northern Irish crew battled hard with leaders Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke over the first two days and moved ahead when Pritchard was sidelined by a broken halfshaft. Once ahead, McCormack continued his stunning pace to win by 1m44s from fellow former winners Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis while Roger Chilman and Bryan Thomas turned in a star performance on unfamiliar stages for third after leading overall during the opening day in Wales. The concurrent Open Rally was won convincingly by the Ford Escort Mk2 of David Hutchinson and Jeff Garnett.

Britain’s biggest and toughest rally made a triumphant return after a break of three years and drew a fantastic response from competitors, service crews, marshals and spectators. The incredible atmosphere of camaraderie and adventure made this the stand-out rally of the season and each of the finishers was elated to complete the rally.

A total of 91 crews started from Brightwells in Leominster on Friday morning and a remarkable tally of 61 finished at Kielder Waterside on Monday afternoon. In between were heroic tales of crews working miracles to keep cars running.

Spectators turned out in their thousands, including for the opening pair of stages at Shelsley Walsh on Friday morning when the rally made history by running cars competitively both up and down the hill for the first time. With many fans out in the forests across four days, the overall standard of spectator behaviour was very good.

McCormack drove a superb rally to repeat his 2012 victory and was elated with the result as he drove his Ford Escort Mk2 in the British forests for the first time in four years. However, he paid tribute to Pritchard’s outstanding drive over the first two days.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic,” said McCormack. “It’s been a massive event and Colin Heppenstall and the team have done a fantastic job.” It was not all plain-sailing for McCormack, however, as his Ford Escort Mk2 needed two new clutches and two gearbox changes during the rally.

The battle for second got down to as little as 14s after the night stages, but Robinson pushed hard again in the daylight to see off Chilman, who duly took a fine third place on his first sight of many of the northern stages. Fourth place was a tremendous result for Alan Walker and John Connor while Simon Webster and Jez Rogers were fifth as Steve Bannister and Callum Atkinson came back from a roll and a final day off to salvage sixth.

All across the field were impressive performances and they included ninth-placed Josh Browne and Jane Edgington on only the driver’s seventh rally and Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons who were on target for a top six overall in their Pinto-powered Escort until they slid off on ice on Sunday morning.

David Hutchinson and Jeff Garnett tackled the event for the first time and came away with a resounding victory in the Open Rally for non-historic two-wheel drive cars. By Monday afternoon Hutchinson was three minutes clear of the Peugeot 205GTi of James Nicholls and David Allman, which was the best front-wheel drive car on the event. Open Rally class winners included Andy Gray/Emma Morrison to make it a memorable weekend for the Grays as Andy’s wife Kim took victory in class D2. This was an absolute triumph in the face of adversity for Kim and Tom Murphy in their Escort Mk2. It started with engine issues on Friday that dictated a return to Chesterfield for an overnight rebuild but sheer determination got them through.

Dave Watkins and Graham Wride won class C2 in Watkins'ex-works Escort Mk1 as the superbly presented car ran like a train across four tough days. Jimmy McRae and Pauline Gullick drove a rally befitting their combined experience to win class C5 in the Chevrolet-powered Vauxhall Firenza. Another V8, the Triumph TR7 of David Kynaston/Val Thompson, won class D4 despite an off on Sunday’s ice. Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson in their Pinto-powered Escort Mk2 took an impressive class D3 win on Egglestone’s first rally in a rear-wheel drive car.

The Category K classes were won by the VW Golf GTi of Chris Hellings and Glyn Thomas and Paul Griffiths/Iwan Jones. The VW Golf crew drove a great rally to win their class on their first attempt at the event. Griffiths took over in class G2 when Pritchard went out of the lead of the rally.

The two-stroke Saab 96 of Stephen Higgins and Sam Spencer won class B2 after a wonderful performance in the low-power car. The Saab behaved impeccably over four days and Higgins drove it with gusto. Veteran Bob Bean and co-driver Malcolm Smithson took victory in class B4 among the Category 1 contenders in their freshly built Lotus Cortina. Finally, Rikki Proffitt and Graham Wild (Porsche 911) won class B5 despite a challenging event.  


Results: Roger Albert Clark Rally

1 Marty McCormack/Barney Mitchell (Ford Escort Mk2) 4h28m27s

2 Matthew Robinson/Sam Collis (Ford Escort Mk2) 4h30m11s

3 Roger Chilman/Bryan Thomas (Ford Escort Mk2) 4h31m19s

4 Alan Walker/John Conner (Ford Escort Mk2) 4h34m24s

5 Simon Webster/Jez Rogers (Ford Escort Mk2) 4h35m51s

6 Steve Bannister/Callum Atkinson (Ford Escort Mk2) 4h39m03s

7 Paul Griffiths/Iwan Jones (Ford Escort Mk2) 4h40m28s

8 Stuart Egglestone/Brian Hodgson (Ford Escort Mk2) 4h41m03s

9 Josh Browne/Jane Edgington (Ford Escort Mk2) 4h43m32s

10 Barry Stevenson-Wheeler/John Pickavance (Ford Escort Mk2) 4h50m05s

Class winners: Steve Higgins/Sam Spencer (Saab 96); Bob Bean/Malcolm Smithson (Ford Lotus Cortina); Rikki Proffitt/Graham Wild (Porsche 911); Dave Watkins/Graham Wride (Ford Escort Mk1); Wayne Bonser/Richard Ashton (Ford Escort Mk1); Jimmy McRae/Pauline Gullick (Vauxhall Firenza Chevrolet); Kim Gray/Tom Murphy (Ford Escort Mk2); Egglestone/Hodgson; David Kynaston/Val Thompson (Triumph TR7 V8); Chris Hellings/Glyn Thomas (VW Golf GTi); Peter Johnson/Charles Johnson (Datsun 240Z); Griffiths/Jones.


Roger Albert Clark Open Rally

1 David Hutchinson/Jeff Garnett (Ford Escort Mk2) 5h01m23s

2 James Nicholls/David Allman (Peugeot 205GTi) 5h04m21s

3 Dave Hemingway/Simon Ashton (Ford Escort Mk2) 5h12m49s

4 Mick Plowman/Nigel Hutchinson (Ford Escort Mk2) 5h16m22s

5 Andy Gray/Emma Morrison (Peugeot 205 GTi) 5h25m08s

See our Gallery here.

8th November 2017: Roger Albert Clark Rally is GO!!, continued....

A superb field will gather in Leominster, Herefordshire for the start of what will be, for many, the toughest rally of their careers. The rally HQ, including pre-event documentation and technical checks, will be Brightwells in Leominster where spectators are welcome to see the cars from mid-day until 7pm on Thursday (9 November). Admission to Brightwells is free of charge. 

Taking this major sporting event to Leominster is expected to put more than £100,000 into the local economy at a quiet time of the year for the tourism industry. Hotels and businesses in and around the town are benefiting significantly from the event, which will deliver at least 1000 hotel nights as well as money into pubs, restaurants, garages and other retailers. Some overseas crews and event officials will arrive in the area during Wednesday 8 November. 

The competitive action begins on Friday morning at the historic and spectacular setting of Shelsley Walsh for two short, sharp stages at the fabulous Worcestershire speed hillclimb venue. The action starts from 9.30am with the cars tackling the famous hill in both directions through until around mid-day and spectator admission is just £5 per person. 

Then, for the first time in the event’s history, the action moves into the Welsh forests for a day of classic stages including two runs at a challenging 14-mile stage in Radnor Forest. Later the crews head back to Brightwells in Leominster for the end of the day service from around 5.30pm. Then a special transport section will allow the crews to load the cars onto trailers for the trip north to Carlisle, where the rally will be based for three days. 

Saturday is a tough day with special stages across Northumberland including the infamous Kielder forest. Sunday is spent in Scotland, while the Roger Albert Clark Rally has a sting in the tail as Monday takes crews into the central block of Kielder forest for another tough leg including two 19-mile stages in Caplestone Fell. The jubilant survivors will finish at the new Kielder Waterside complex from around 2pm on Monday and just reaching the finish will be a mighty achievement. 

Of course, the leading crews have ambitions far above simply finishing and whoever leads the field home will have won a huge victory. Three former event winners are at the head of the entry, capped by 2014 victors Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis from Yorkshire. Right behind them will be Northern Irish ace Marty McCormack and co-driver Liam Moynihan. 

Yorkshire legend, and former double winner, Steve Bannister is back this year and the final crew in the big four is the pairing of triple MSA British Historic Rally champions Jason Pritchard (Builth Wells) and Phil Clarke (Church Stretton). 

While the big four are likely to set the ultimate pace, there are plenty more crews set to be firmly in the running, including the next six Ford Escort Mk2s. Both Rudi Lancaster (Devon) and Steve Bennett (Ross-on-Wye) have come back to rallying in recent seasons after once being contemporaries of former World Rally Champions, the late Richard Burns. Lancaster will be co-driven by Guy Weaver from Wolverhampton. 
Simon Webster (Norwich) and Jez Rogers (Bridgnorth) is another crew in this chasing pack, while a real dark horse is Leominster crew Roger Chilman with and Bryan Thomas. Paul Griffiths (Chester) already has top three Roger Albert finishes in his record and, with co-driver Iwan Jones, will be strong while Alan Walker (Bridgnorth) and John Connor (Halesowen) team up for the first time on Walker’s first event in his Escort since the 2014 Roger Albert Clark Rally. 

In the classes for the less powerful historics, crews like Ben Friend/Cliffy Simmons (class D3) and Adam Milner/Roy Jarvis (class C2) are stand-outs and Milner will be slaying plenty of giants if he can find a pace that will get him through to Monday. Heading the Category 1 entry for the pre-1968 cars is the remarkable Bob Bean and co-driver Malcolm Smithson in their freshly prepared Lotus Cortina. Meanwhile, very welcome overseas crews are peppered down the entry, including Christophe Jacob and Isabelle Regnier in their Escort Mk2. 

A fabulous array of cars ensures that this event is not just about Ford Escorts and real crowd pleasers include the Lancia Stratos of Steve Perez/Paul Spooner and the Chevrolet-powered Vauxhall Firenza of the evergreen Jimmy McRae and Pauline Gullick. Other popular cars will include the Opel Ascona of Theo Bengry and Les Forsbrook and the Manta 400 of Frenchman Jean-Louis Thizy. 

Running alongside the historic element of the event is the Roger Albert Clark Open Rally for all other two-wheel drive cars and the pack is headed by Ludlow’s Henri Grehan and Chris Ridge. Henri is back rallying this year after taking time out with a young family and he will be immediately quick on home ground on Friday. His rivals include Dave Hemingway and Simon Ashton. Hemingway, who celebrates his 50th birthday during the rally, is one of a very select group to have contested every edition of the Roger Albert Clark Rally. 
If you are either coming to compete marshal or spectate please stay safe and enjoy the best long distance rally in the UK

Spectator information is available here, car parking tickets can be bought on the day  please, cash only.

You can follow the exploits of all the crews as it happens on our event Facebook page by using this link here.

Don't forget that the live event results are also available throughout the rally here.

27th October 2017: Bannister confirmed for R.A.C. Rally, continued...

Bannister and regular co-driver Callum Atkinson will start the four-day rally as car number five in their Ford Escort Mk2. They were the winners of a free entry for winning this year's Northern Historic Rally Championship in a very special award supported by fellow competitor Barry Jordan. 

Yorkshire farmer Bannister, renowned across Yorkshire, northern England and Scotland as one of the very fastest Ford Escort Mk2 drivers, has an incredible record on the Roger Albert Clark Rally.

In the first three editions of the rally, in 2004, 2005 and 2006, Bannister won the Open Rally by considerable margins. Then, in 2007, he switched to the main event in an historic specification Escort Mk2 loaned by Steve Perez and won the overall rally. That victory was repeated in 2013, although he narrowly missed winning in 2012 after a fantastic battle with Martin McCormack when the result was only decided on the final stage of the rally. 

Now, Bannister will bid for a record third overall victory. Currently, the only other driver with two wins to his credit is Gwyndaf Evans (2009 and 2011), so Bannister could earn a prominent place in the rally’s history. 

For the opening leg of the rally, Bannister will tackle forest stages in Wales for the first time in many years. Although he has tremendous pace everywhere, his lack of knowledge of the Welsh stages may cost him a little time on day one. However, when the rally heads into Northumberland and Kielder he will surely set a very strong pace to be one of the major contenders.

20th October 2017: Shelsley Walsh ready for the Roger Albert Clark Rally. Continued...

Before the rally heads into the Welsh forests, the cars will tackle two special stages on the famous hill climb course. It is believed to be the first time in the venue’s 112-year history that Shelsley has been used competitively downhill. 

Following event documentation at Brightwells in Leominster on Thursday, the rally cars will gather at Shelsley Walsh for the start of the rally from around 0900hrs on Friday. The cars will tackle two special stages, both run at 30-second starts, ensuring around three hours of rally action. The first stage will start at 0949hrs. 

The opening stage will run from the hill startline to the finish and the second stage will run back down the hill before turning left at Kennel Bend to finish on the gravel access road across the top of the main spectator car park. Several chicanes will be added to the hill to control speed on the descent. Cars will complete both stages in batches of 25 cars. 

As well as almost non-stop action on the hill, Shelsley will feature the official rally start, a service area in the main paddock, a re-group control in the orchard as well as the usual catering and toilet facilities. 

Ford Escort Mk2 driver Alan Walker (car number 14) is one of the few drivers in the rally with previous experience of competing on the famous hill. “I’ve been going to Shelsley for years, since I was a little boy,” said Walker. “I competed there in the summer when I shared the Westfield of Jez Rogers, who will be co-driving on the Roger Albert Clark Rally for Simon Webster. It is a fantastic venue and it is the perfect place to start the rally. Running the stage downhill will be a big challenge and I’m really looking forward to it. It will be great for the rally.” 

Tickets for the Brightwells Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb Special Stages are now on sale via the tab on this website or click here to go to the page, or tickets can be purchased on the gate. Tickets are priced at £5 per adult . Children under 15 will be admitted free of charge. Public access and parking is via Gate C, which is the first gate on the right when approaching from the north. To get to Shelsley Walsh, just follow the permanent brown road signs. 

To keep up to date with Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club news, you can become a club member for £15 annually, here.

7th September 2017: Clubman's support events announced, continued....

Once again the Roger Albert Clark rally will be offering the hugely popular support events to the main event. Running over the same stages as the main event, these smaller events offer unprecedented value for money and give crews to be part of a much bigger rally. The three events are,

* Saturday: Peregrine Print Rally (49 stage miles for £350)

* Sunday: R.A.C. Clubman's Rally (42 stage miles for £325)

* Monday: R.A.C. Kielder Rally (47 stage miles for £325) 

The three one-day rallies will offer some of the best value gravel rallying in the UK with entry fees from as little as £7 per mile. 

With the main event less than 10 weeks away, the Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club has confirmed details of the three rallies that will run alongside the main event. 

On Saturday 11 November the Peregrine Print Rally will be based from the new Kielder Greenside Car Park and will offer 49 stage miles for £350 over four stages.

 On Sunday 12 November the R.A.C Clubmans Rally will be based from Lockerbie Lorry Park and will offer 42 stage miles for £325 over five stages. 

On Monday 13 November the R.A.C Kielder Rally will also be based from Kielder Greenside Car Park and will offer 47 miles for £325 over three stages.

 Crews who would like even greater value for money can enter all three support events with a total of 138 stage miles for £950. That’s less than £7 per mile at a time when most events have entry fees of around £12 per mile. The supplementary regulations can be found here.

29th August 2017: Entries reach 100, continued.....

In recent weeks, potential competitors who had lodged an initial refundable deposit of £300 have been required to confirm their place with a further payment and a completed entry form. The response to this stage of the entry process has been excellent and there are now more than 100 completed entries. As many as another 20 are likely to give a final total of up to 120 starters.

So far, 13 crews from mainland Europe are among the confirmed entries and more are expected over the coming weeks as competitors confirm their plans.

“ We are still taking enquiries from European crews so we will have a strong international flavour to the event, along with some cars we don’t normally see in the UK”,  said Rally Manager Colin Heppenstall.

Heppenstall says he is delighted with the response, which already means a record entry for the event. “ We knew that a number of those who paid deposits would not be able to finally enter the rally for a range of reasons and expected that the drop-out rate among initial depositors would be around 15-20%” said Heppenstall . “I would urge anyone who wants to do the event to go ahead and enter as I believe we will be able to accommodate them.”

One crew has recently won a 50% refund of their entry fee, a prize worth £1625. All those who had paid the entry fee in full by 31 July went into a draw and the winners were Yorkshire-based Ford Escort Mk1 crew Dave Watkins and Graham Wride.

Event planning and final route surveys are moving ahead well and more details about the special stages for the Saturday, Sunday and Monday legs will be announced over the coming weeks. The event regulations can be found here.

5th April 29017: New venue announced, continued...

Brightwells have extensive links with the classic car market as a leading auction house within a business first started in 1846. As well as classic cars, auctions for 4x4s, cars, vans, plant, machinery, fine art and antiques are all part of the business mix at the company’s impressive Easter Court facility.

 The Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club Ltd has arranged the most extensive and far-reaching route in the event’s history, starting with over 40 stage miles in Wales on Friday (10 November). The competing cars will return to Brightwells in the late afternoon of Friday for a main service halt before the entire event moves north.

 Rally manager Colin Heppenstall said he was delighted to confirm a partnership with Brightwells. “The facilities at Leominster are perfect for all the pre-event scrutineering and documentation,” said Heppenstall. “The location right next to the main A49 trunk road is ideal and we are very grateful to everyone at Brightwells for their enthusiastic support of the event.”

 The influx of competitors, service crews, officials and spectators is expected to inject more than £100,000 into the local economy at a time of year when tourist trade is limited. Hotels in Leominster, Ludlow, Hereford and Worcester are all expected to get a boost in bookings while traders in the town of Leominster will also benefit significantly from the rally. Some overseas crews and event officials will arrive in the area during Wednesday 8 November.

 Richard Binnersley, Joint Managing Director of Brightwells, said: “Brightwells is hugely excited to be asked to host the start of this year’s Roger Albert Clark Rally. We have plenty of room and covered area for the competitors and cars, with a cracking little cafe to service the hungry drivers, support crews and spectators, and it's not far from our front door straight into the demanding tracks of the Welsh forests. With the November weather likely to throw in a few challenges and the expected coverage by TV, radio and press, this is going to be a great spectacle to watch and be involved in.”

 For more details about Brightwells, please visit

The next Leominster auctions of particular interest to the classic car market are as follows:

Thursday 20 April from 12 noon: modern classics

Wednesday 17 May from 12 noon: classic and vintage