Croft circuit hosting Swift Winter Stages Rally signs and shirts
SOME of the biggest names in British rallying will converge on Croft Circuit for the Swift Signs and Shirts Winter Stages Rally taking place at the North Yorkshire track this Sunday.
Organizers Northallerton Automobile Club Ltd and Darlington and District Motor Club have mustered an entry of almost 90 cars for what will be the first rally at Croft for almost three years, the last being the Jack Frost Stages Rally in February 2020 before the pandemic of Covid hit.
After winning the corresponding 2019 Christmas Stages Rally, rising star Frank Bird from Penrith and his co-driver from Hexham, Jack Morton, are back to defend their title in the World Championship-spec Ford Fiesta Rally 2. Bird, whose father Paul is a two-time event winner, was victorious in his two previous events this year so he is the heavy favorite to clinch another win from Croft as he starts with car number a.
Willington driver David Henderson, who enjoyed a successful season in his Ford Fiesta R5 and will have his wife Katie alongside him on the cards, will follow at number two as they look to add to his Croft Christmas Stages d 21 years ago. The third car is Leeming’s Joe Cunningham and Scruton’s co-driver Josh Beer, who are another pair who could battle for victory in their Ford Fiesta as they aim for a maiden victory.
Eight-time event winner Kevin Procter is hoping to add to his record from car four. The local businessman from Leeming Bar also won the Jack Frost Rally in 2020 in his Ford Fiesta S2000 backed by Procter’s Luxury Coaches. So he’ll be back to see if he can take ten Croft wins with regular Welsh co-driver Patrick Walsh at his side.
The rest of the entry list is brimming with class and includes experienced British Asphalt Championship leader Lyndon Barton (Ford Fiesta R5) seeded number five followed by local ace Paul Swift of Great Smeaton who will take part in the event in his 2.5-litre Ford Escort Mk2 alongside his wife Jessica.
The top ten is completed by Scottish ace Joe McKeand (Subaru Impreza), the mighty Ford Escorts of Dane Walker of Harrogate and Durham driver Barry Renwick and the Lotus Exige of former Scottish champion Greg Inglis.
Others to watch are Dave Bellerby of Northallerton (Ford Sapphire) who will also be front and center, while the likes of Alistair Hutchinson of Mickleton (Renault Clio), Witton Gilbert drivers Andrew Fawcett (Vauxhall Nova) and Edward Todd (Darrian) as well as Stephen Sawley of Spennymoor (Ford Escort) will be among the favorites for class wins.
The challengers will be Scottish marauders Des Campbell (Peugeot 206) and Ben Wilkinson (Peugeot 106 Maxi) with former British Touring Car Championship driver Harry Vaulkhard of Sunderland entering a Suzuki Swift for good measure.
The Constantine family, based in Richmondshire, will be present in droves at the event. Mark and his brother Andrew will be the main challengers for a class victory in their Vauxhall Corsa, while Mark’s two sons, Tom and Luke, will make their rally debuts, each driving a newly built MG3. Andrew’s twin sons Luke and Oliver will share a Suzuki Swift at the event where one of the senior officials tasked with running the rally is Mark and Andrew’s sister Nicky.
Other cars of interest include Bob Dennis’ Subaru Legacy of Bishop Auckland, John Nicholson and Chris Rock in their historic spec Austin Minis, Darren Wilson’s Ford Escort Cosworth and Phil Bruce’s Ford Ka.
Entry costs £15 per person with accompanied children aged 15 and under admitted free. Gates open at 8:00 a.m., with the first car departing from stage one at 9:00 a.m.