Classic rally arrives in Sunderland

Preparations underway at Seaburn getting cars ready for a weekend of rallying at Herrington Country Park.

Preparations underway at Seaburn getting cars ready for a weekend of rallying at Herrington Country Park.

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AND they’re off ...

Old-school rallying has come to Sunderland.

The city is playing host to the 11th annual Roger Albert Clark Rally until tomorrow night.

The event, which seeks to recreate the sport as it was in the 60s and 70s, complete with late night and early-morning stages, is based in the city for the first time.

Drivers set off from the seafront to stages as far afield as Hamsterley and Kielder.

The three-day event features teams from across Europe.

Herrington Country Park played host to the opening stages last night and again first thing this morning.

City council deputy leader Coun Harry Trueman, said: “Attracting events like these to Sunderland helps raise our profile, helps boost the local and regional economies, and is offering some great entertainment and sporting spectacle.

“There’s a lot of experience in our city for hosting major events, from football to the Sunderland International Airshow, and there’s always a good turnout.

“This event is a major attraction for all motor-sport enthusiasts.”

Rally manager Colin Heppenstall said the event was attracting major interest.

“We’re delighted with the level of interest from Europe,” he said.

“It seems Kielder is very well known in Europe, the crews are keen to come and sample these stages, and following our recent route survey, I’m pleased to say the quality of the stages is very, very good”

Chris Alexander, chief operating officer at promoter Sunderland Live said: “We’re constantly looking to bring new activities to the city, and the Roger Albert Clark Rally in Sunderland is a great event, both for rally enthusiasts and for people to come and see the action close up for the first time.”

The teams will have their headquarters in the Seaburn Centre, where the final results will be announced and presentations made on Sunday evening.

Today sees the cars head for Croft racing circuit by way of Hamsterley Forest, while tomorrow takes in stages in Redesdale and Falstone before they return to Seaburn at about 5pm.

l Log on to www.sunderlandecho.com for updates on this morning’s event.