MORE than 60 rally cars have taken to Wearside’s roads and parkland as a race held its first stage.
The city is playing host to the 11th annual Roger Albert Clark Rally, with the event launched this evening as competitors set off with a ceremonial start the Seaburn Centre at 6.35pm.
They then headed to Herrington Country Park, where they set off across 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 as the night came to a close.
Zoe Channing, head of event development at Sunderland Live, which is hosting the Wearside stages of the race during the weekend, said: “There’s been an unbelievable turn out.
“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 people have come along, despite the dark, damp and cold conditions and people are really excited about it.
“A lot of local people have attended the evening and they’re really looking forward to coming back tomorrow.”
The teams have their headquarters in the Seaburn Centre, where the final results will be announced and presentations made on Sunday evening.
Tomorrow’s event starts at Herrington Country Park at 8am and is expected to finish at the same site shortly before 11pm, as the cars head for Croft racing circuit by way of Hamsterley Forest.
On Sunday it will begin at the park at 7.30am, finishing at Seaburn just before 5.30pm as the stage also takes in Redesdale and Falstone.
For more details visit www.sunderlandlive.co.uk and www.rogeralbertclarkrally.org, with updates on Twitter via @SunderlandLive.