CITY leaders are hoping to welcome back a prestigious rally next year after thousands of race fans put in a warm Wearside welcome.
For the first time in the Roger Albert Clark Rally’s 11-year history, the chequered flag was waved in Sunderland at Herrington Country Park last month with a spectacular night stage.
And city leaders say they are hoping the event will make a return to the area in 2015.
Kicking off the weekend of fast-paced rallying, the night saw crowds of thousands fill the park as racing teams from across Europe competed over 190 stage miles across three days.
Competitors from countries including Sweden, Germany, and Italy got a whistle-stop tour of the city and the wider North East as they hurtled through the Kielder Forest Complex in Northumberland.
Deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, Coun Henry Truman, said: “It was fantastic to see rally fans old and new from across Europe travel to Sunderland and experience what the city has to offer.
“With more than 3,000 people coming to Herrington Country Park to enjoy the weekend it has been a great boost to local businesses and we hope to see the Roger Albert Clark Rally make a return trip to Sunderland next November.”
Taking the title of winners after three days of hard fought racing were Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis in their Ford Escort Mk 2.
The rally’s first start from Sunderland has also been hailed a success by rally manager Colin Heppenstall.
He said: “The fact we saw over 3,000 spectators in Herrington Country Park on the Friday night shows there is an appetite for first-class motor sport in Sunderland and I’m very grateful for the help and support given by Sunderland City Council, without whom we couldn’t have made it happen.”