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Ripon dairy owner Charlie Payne made an impressive start in his bid to win the Trackrod Forest Stages Rally for a third successive year but was still outpaced by Hugh Hunter’s similar Ford Fiesta WRC by the time the cars reached the mid-morning service.

The North Yorkshireman and was fastest through today’s (Saturday) opening stage in Langdale, stopping the clock at 12 minutes 8.7 seconds for the 13.41-mile all-gravel test.

But Welshman Hunter (Ruthin), who won the all-tarmac Manx National Rally in May, was quickest on the second stage at Staindale, to forge a narrow 3.8 second overall advantage, with a third Fiesta, driven by recently crowned RAVENOL BTRDA Gold Star Champion Steve Petch (Hamsterley) third, although less than 10 seconds separate all three.

The Trackrod Historic Cup, which began in total darkness last night (Friday) with an 11.58-mile stage in Dalby forest, is led by Nick Elliott (Cheltenham) in one of a host of Mk2 Escorts.

Overnight leader Jason Tauber Pritchard (Builth Wells) saw his slender advantage disappear in Langdale with Elliott then pulling further clear over the shorter 5.81-mile Staindale stage, as the duo battle it out for the overall Mintex British Historic Championship honours – the title going to the driver who finishes first in Yorkshire.

Brothers Karl and Guy Simmons never made it to the start as there Suburu S11WRC broke down with gearbox failure on the road section to the day’s opening stage (Langdale), while two former Mintex national Championship front runners Steve Petch (Bishop Auckland) and Jeremy Easson (Oakham) also didn’t contest the day’s action for long.

Petch’s Ford Fiesta S2000 was the victim of mechanical failure in Langdale, while Easson suffered brake failure in his striking Datsun 240Z, shortly afterwards.

Bob Bean, the oldest driver in the event at 77, walked away unscathed despite rolling his 1970’s Mk1 Escort out of the rally towards the end of the Dalby night stage.

Further details of the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, including up to date positions, please see:

http://www.rallyyorkshire.co.uk
http://www.facebook.com/trackrodrallyyorkshire
Twitter: @rallyyorkshire

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