Croft gears up for exciting weekend on the track

Despite the freezing conditions in recent weeks, Darlington & District Motor Club, the organisers of the 2011 Cartersport Jack Frost Stages Rally to be held at Croft Circuit this forthcoming Sunday, are hoping that any snow or ice will stay well away and that another bumper crowd can enjoy the action.

Last month’s Specsavers Christmas Stages Rally at Croft attracted a very good crowd of over 1,500 fans despite the bad weather so with the forecast for the weekend to be much milder and dryer, competitors, organisers, marshals and spectators alike are looking forward to some fast entertainment around the North’s premier racetrack.

Winner for the last two years, Paul Bird, is going for the hat trick and along with Scottish co-driver Kirsty Riddick, heads the entry list in his works-specification Ford Focus WRC.

The Penrith driver was National Rally Champion back in 2005 and the event will be one of a select few he contests in 2011.

However, another local crew are looking to stamp their names on the winner’s trophy for a third time and following retirement due to the treacherous conditions on the Christmas Stages a couple of weeks ago, Pickhill pairing Chris Wise and co-driver Tracey Taylor-West are hoping to add to their Jack Frost victories in 2006 and 2007 in their venerable MG Metro 6R4.

With over 70 cars assembled for the 40-stage mile event, the battles throughout the field will be intense with a number of top drivers and spectacular cars in action throughout the day.

In Class 5, the unique Subaru Forester of Alex Taylor is always a hit with rally fans at Croft and he’ll be up against the likes of York’s Chris Myers (Mitsubishi), Scotsman Stuart Baillie (Subaru) and the Mazda 323 of Leeds driver David Marshall.

However, a strong local contingent challenging for honours includes Redcar’s Dave Craven (Mitsubishi), Chop Gate brothers John and Mark Gaskin (Subaru) and Brompton shopkeeper Darren Grimston (Mitsubishi).

Class 4 should prove interesting as Darlington stunt driver and multiple British Autotest Champion, Paul Swift, goes head to head with fellow Ford Escort Mk2 driver from Scotland, Martin Elsdon.

Catterick Autograsser Martyn Tinker will look towards putting the disappointment of retirement on the Christmas Stages behind him as he goes for Class 3 honours in his Lotus Exige but can expect stiff opposition from Tynesider Dave Conley (Hillman Avenger) and the LPG-powered Renault Clio of Mickleton’s Alistair Hutchinson.

The 1600cc Class 2 will prove most competitive with the likes of Carlisle builder Barry Lindsay (Peugeot 106) squaring off with Northumberland farmer Chris Singer (Citroen Saxo Kit Car) and Yorkshireman Chris Platt (Vauxhall Tigra) whilst in Class 1, Andy Fawcett from Witton Gilbert will be mixing it in his Vauxhall Nova with Berwick’s David Martin (Vauxhall Astra) and York driver Samantha Gabb in her Peugeot 106.

Local motorsport PR company, Cartersport Motorsport Media and Communications, (www.cartersport.com) are sponsoring the event for a third successive year and proprietor Larry Carter from Northallerton will also be in action in the MSR Motorsport-prepared Peugeot 206.

Other local drivers to keep an eye on are Barnard Castle’s John Bainbridge (Subaru), the Citroen Saxos of Hutton Rudby joiner Kevin Liddle and Middlesbrough’s Craig Hesse, Durham GTM driver Edward Todd and the Nissan Pulsar of Sunderland’s Jon Olds, whereas Bedale falconer Tommi Graham (Ford Escort) and Norton’s Paul Dolan (Mitsubishi) are expected to be as spectacular as ever.

There are still a limited number of late entries available for the event.

Contact Terry Wright on 01325 359895 for more.