Rally pulls motorsports fans to Sunderland

On a dark, wet and murky morning, crowds turned out to watch classic rally cars racing against the clock on one of the stages of the Roger Albert Clark Rally at Herrington Country Park.
On a dark, wet and murky morning, crowds turned out to watch classic rally cars racing against the clock on one of the stages of the Roger Albert Clark Rally at Herrington Country Park.
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ORGANISERS of a prestigious rally event hailed the “unbelievable” turnout of Wearside motorsport fans.

Sunderland played host to the 11th annual Roger Albert Clark Rally across the weekend, with more than 60 cars taking part.

The event began on Friday night as competitors set off with a ceremonial start from the Seaburn Centre.

They then headed to Herrington Country Park, where they set off in the darkness in front of a crowd of hundreds.

The cars then travelled to Pennington, at Hamsterley Forest, then back to Sunderland for another two laps of the park’s course.

On Saturday, cars began in Herrington Country Park and headed for Croft racing circuit, near Darlington, by way of Hamsterley Forest.

Yesterday, the cars were back at the park for a stage that also took in Redesdale and Falstone, in Northumberland, before returning to finish at Seaburn.

Zoe Channing, head of event development at Sunderland Live, which is hosting the Wearside stages of the race, said: “There has been an unbelievable turnout. When we had the Tony Jardine rally in 2012, a smaller race, a lot of people enjoyed that and now we’ve brought this to the city.

“I think we are just overwhelmed by how many people have come along, despite the dark, damp and cold conditions and people are really excited about it.”

Rally manager Colin Heppenstall added: “It’s been a very good weekend and we’ve had a good two-and-a-half days of hard-fought competition between Matthew Edwards and Matthew Robinson.

“Everyone got in the spirit of it. The event has a reputation of being the ‘friendly rally’ and the relaxed feel of it went down very well.”