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The biannual epic that is the Raoger Albert Clark Rally saw a superb event with twists and turns throughout. Just over a week before it started 2019 winner Marty McCormack withdrew due to business commitments. On the opening stage Jason Pritchard & Phil Clarke (Escort MkII) were joint fastest, with Paul Barrett & Gordon Noble (Escort MkII), before going fastest on stage 2. They then held the lead through the opening night and the crazy Friday in Kielder, which saw Storm Arwen play havoc with the event. Several crews, many marshals and some fans were all left trapped by fallen trees and frozen conditions. Those that did get back to their digs also had the variable of power cuts which would take over a week to fully resolve.

The 3rd day in Scotland was cancelled so the crews headed South to tackle the Welsh section of the rally. Pritchard remained in charge until Dyfi where he crashed out of the event. Barrett took over the lead after a fierce battle with Osian Pryce & Noel O’Sullivan (Escort MkII) set up an intriguing final day of the rally in South Wales.

The opening stage in Walters proved to be pure drama as first Pryce lost a wheel and stopped, retiring from the rally. Still on stage and near the end Barrett put it off on a right hander and he was out so it was Ryan Champion & Craig Thorley (Porsche 911) who inherited the lead. They held it together through the final 4 stages to take a first win for a marque other than a Ford, on the Roger Albert Clark. 4 minutes back in 2nd place were Seb Perez & Gary McElhinney (Escort MkII) with Adrian Hetherington & Ronan O’Neill (Escort MkII) jusy taking 3rd by 6s, after Ben Friend & Cliff Simmons (Escort MkII) went on a full attack that just fell short.

 

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