Why Britain’s biggest rally matters so much

The Roger Albert Clark Rally celebrates the history of rallying over five days and 300 stage miles

image004

Five days. Three countries. Over 300 stage miles. Sounds alright doesn’t it? Britain’s biggest rally in over two years is about to begin.

The last time there were this many rallying fans trekking into the British forests was Rally GB 2019. A pandemic and the demise of a Welsh-based Rally GB have got in the way since.

But on Thursday, the excitement’s back. Beginning with four punishing stages in Kielder, the Roger Albert Clark Rally – named after the first British driver to win their home round of the World Rally Championship – heads deep into the famous Kielder complex again on Friday before a leg in Scotland, then a voyage down the M6 on Sunday for two more days in Wales.

And it’s held at a proper time of year. None of this early October or even September running – late November it is. There’s talk of snow, but it’ll most definitely be cold.

image1

The entire purpose of this event is to celebrate rallying’s rich past. That’s why the route is so gruelling, the attitude’s fairly relaxed and the entry restricted to just historic cars. And with no WRC action this year, this is the detox British rallying deserves – and needs.

If you’re a fan of the Ford Escort Mk2 then the 2021 RAC will be for you. You have to go all the way down to #18 for the first non-Escort on the entry – Ryan Champion’s Porsche 911.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll find plenty of unique and fabulous cars. Just a simple walk through the service park revealed hidden gems like a Lotus Cortina, Lancia Fulvia, a Vauxhall Nova and even a Rover 25!

There’s some very familiar names too. Stéphane Prevot, anyone? International entries are down compared to previous years due to COVID-19’s persistence, but there is a strong Belgian and French contingent present.

image9

The favorite however is Jason Pritchard. Thrice a British Historic champion, the RAC is the one that’s missing from Pritchard’s CV. He wants to change that.

Marty McCormack won the last edition of this biannual event in 2019, but work commitments forced him to pull his entry a week before the rally. Osian Pryce – who lost out on the British Rally Championship title last weekend – Matthew Robinson, Roger Chilman and former M-Sport WRC2 driver Rhys Yates are other expected front runners.

The real winning party however is rallying. Of course the result matters, but when you’ve got a 300-mile event that travels around the country, let’s just savor it. You never know when it might be gone.

Words:Luke Barry

Comments