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Despite the enforced date change to bank holiday Monday January 2nd 2012, Northallerton Automobile Club Ltd has assembled a quality entry for the annual Specsavers Christmas Stages Rally which will take place at Croft Circuit near Darlington.

Having originally had a capacity 90 car entry for the festive event, a number of crews have unfortunately had to withdraw, including last year’s winner Dale Robertson, meaning 70 crews will now contest the 40 stage miles over seven stages in just two weeks time.

Former double winner Kevin Procter from Scruton and Little Langton co-driver Dave Bellerby are seeded at number one in the Subaru WRC which took them to victory in 2008 and 2009 and providing he confirms his entry, Teesside businessman Peter Stephenson will be next away in his Subaru WRC.

Rapid Leeds brothers Phil and Mick Gallagher are seeded at three in their Ford Escort with the spectacular and unique Subaru Forester of Yorkshireman Alex Taylor at four meaning the anticipated large crowd will get their money’s worth of entertainment.

Local crews fill the next five places headed by Andy Davison and co driver Mike Curry who are keeping wraps on their intended weapon of choice but the Potto driver is planning to unveil something competitive whereas the flamboyant Gaskin brothers from Chop Gate will be another pair intent on a good result in their Subaru from start number six.

Catterick Village autograsser Martyn Tinker along with Barnard Castle co-driver Giles Dykes are expected to perform well in their Lotus Exige from number seven whilst Sunderland’s Simon Moore with York co-driver Neil Thomson (Renault Clio) and Darlington duo Paul Swift, along with co driver David Cox (Ford Escort), will be looking to at least maintain their eighth and ninth place seeding respectively. West Yorkshire driver Craig Pennington rounds out the top ten in his Mitsubishi Evo 9.

Former winner Pete Slights from York wheels out his historic-specification Ford Escort and will resume battle with the likes of fellow veterans Yuk Hodgson (Ford Escort), Pat Flynn (BMW), Terry Cree (Mini) and Dave Roberts (Ford Escort) whilst there are plenty of young guns in the line up including Derbyshire’s Conor Flynn, Andy Fawcett from Durham and Thirsk driver Ben Cree as well as 17-year-old Scot Jamie McDowall.

Manxman Peppe Planeta is bringing his WRC-specification Ford over and adding to the international flavour is Ireland’s Ian Chadwick (Honda Civic) whilst Russell Morgan’s 2.3-litre Millington Escort will be a major threat. Former Malcolm Wilson and Grizedale winner Steve Head is expected to be in with a shout of class 2 in his Mitsubishi Colt and keep an eye on the prodigious rallycrosser Joe Cunningham from Bedale who makes his rally debut in his Peugeot 106.

Once again sponsored by the Middlesbrough branch of Specsavers, the event will start at 09.15 and will comprise rounds of the AS Performance North of England Tarmac Championship 2012 and the Just Ferries Yorkshire Winter Rally Challenge 2012.

Admission costs £10.00 per adult with accompanied children under 15 admitted free and gates open at 8.00am. There is free car parking and catering is available and entry lists costing 50p are available from the Scout Tent with all proceeds going directly to Northallerton Scouts.

There are a limited number of entries still available and further information can be found at www.northallerton-ac.co.uk.  Media accreditation will be handled by Croft Circuit directly whereby all applications or enquiries need to be addressed to Tracey Morley, Circuit Manager, Croft Circuit, Dalton On Tees, DL2 2PN, via email (tracey@croftcircuit.co.uk) or telephone 01325 721815.

Previous Winners
2001 David Henderson/Hayley Selby – Mitsubishi Lancer
2002 Paul Bird/Larry Carter – Hyundai Accent WRC
2003 Paul Bird/Larry Carter – Hyundai Accent WRC
2004 Tom Morris/Neil Chambers – MG Metro 6R4
2005 Tony Bardy/Reg Smith – Nissan Sunny GTi-R
2006 David Bogie/David Patterson – MG Metro 6R4
2007 John Stone/Lee Carter – MG Metro 6R4
2008 Kevin Procter/Dave Bellerby – Subaru Impreza WRC
2009 Kevin Procter/Dave Bellerby – Subaru Impreza WRC
2010 Dale Robertson/Paul McGuire – Mitsubishi Lancer

Picture courtesy of www.ianhardy.net:  Kevin Procter and Dave Bellerby in Specsavers Christmas Stages Rally action.

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