Roger Albert Clark Rally set for 350 miles of classic forest stages

Historic Racing News

Without a WRC round in the UK this year, the Roger Albert Clark Rally is the biggest in the country, taking in a greatest hits selection of forest stages in England, Wales and Scotland


Tony Jardine's Hillman Avenger entry will be entirely carbon neutral

Will Broadhead

It’s the season for heading deep into the mud, gravel and drizzle of Britain’s remote forests and tearing through them at breakneck speed.

Wales Rally GB may not be happening this year and there’s no Northern Ireland replacement either, but 140 cars are gathering to set off from Carlisle later today in the Roger Albert Clark Rally.

It is the biggest rally taking place in the UK this year and you could argue that would still be the case if the WRC was visiting. With a route that spans some of the best stages in England, Wales and Scotland; proper night running; and a field made up entirely of pre-1991 cars, it’s rallying as many love it best.

“This is the way a rally is supposed to be,” said Stig Blomqvist on his way to winning the inaugural 2004 event. “It’s no different to 1983.”

Named in honour of the first British winner of a WRC event — the 1972 RAC Rally, which shares his initials — the rally attracts talented historic racers, as well as those who compete and have competed in high-level competition.

From the archive

This year’s route heads into Northumberland’s Kielder Forest before heading into Scotland on Saturday with classic stages at Ae, Craik and Twiglees. The rally moves from its Carlisle base to Welshpool on Saturday night; the Welsh stages on Sunday and Monday take in Dyfnant, Gartheiniog and the Walters Arena for a total of 350 forest stage miles.

Its authenticity stretches to requiring original yellow-hued bulbs to light the night stages — a world away from the clear white beams of modern cars.

“This is genuine original special stage rallying where you are tested day and night,” says Tony Jardine, the former F1 presenter, who is entering his freshly rebuilt Hillman Avenger with co-driver Allan Harryman, whose father read pace notes for Ari Vatanen and Paddy Hopkirk.

“It’s as rallying used to be with the best sections of forest in England, Scotland and Wales — a test of the driver as much as the machine, with not a lot of downtime from one day to the next.”

Tony Jardine and Allan Harryman

Jardine and Harryman

Will Broadhead

Jardine first competed in rallying with a Hillman Avenger and his memories of its reliability and handling influenced his decision to campaign the car in a field full of Ford Escorts.

But, given the length and and challenge of the rally, he’s still likely to need the services of his chase car, with mechanics who can service the Avenger between stages.

He’ll also be hoping to avoid the teething troubles he suffered testing in the Coedwig Pencelyn forest, where a detached fanbelt and failing brake system were among the issues to be ironed out.

Jardine’s entry is also an example of how historic rallying is moving with the times. His is thought to be the first where the carbon use is entirely offset by a new service from his current employer, HERO-ERA events.

The Net-Hero app allows drivers to select their vehicle, calculate the carbon emissions produced at any event and then offset them, giving historic racing a way of before synthetic fuels offer the ability to race historic cars without generating carbon.

The full entry, including service vehicles and travel emissions will be offset by purchasing carbon credits.

Watch live coverage of the rally on the Roger Albert Clark Facebook page