With a month to go until the event starts from a new rally HQ in Sunderland, entries for the main event have already passed the 40-mark and continue to arrive at a steady rate. The overseas entry includes drivers from Holland, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Austria and Belgium, with more expected.
Leading entries for the historic event include the rapid Ford Escort Mk2s of Matthew Robinson, Seamus O’Connell, Paul Griffiths, Guy Woodcock and event newcomer Rudi Lancaster, while Chris Browne heads the Escort Mk1 entry. Entries are expected from at least another eight likely front-runners.
A major feature of this year’s rally is the strength of the overseas entry, which is topped by reigning Swedish historic champion Martin Hagman (26) in his Ford Escort RS1800. He will be co-driven by his father Jan on his first foray to the UK.
In the Open Rally, the Escort Mk2s of former winners Martyn Hawkswell and Dave Hemingway will line-up against the Escort of Barry Stevenson-Wheeler for what promises to be an excellent contest.
Meanwhile, the battle among the oldest cars in Category 1 (pre ’68) has just warmed up with an entry for Paul Mankin in his Lotus Cortina. He will take on the similar car of veteran Bob Bean, who has an unrivalled record of competing on this event and the original RAC Rally. Jim Valentine and Stephen Higgins head the typically strong Saab entry in their pair of two-stroke 96s.
Dutchman Mark Schmidt will be part of a four-car team from Holland in his glorious Category 1 Austin Healey 3000. The orange Healey will tackle the event for the third time and Schmidt says that his ambition this year is simply to finish after two non-finishes in previous attempts. Making just as impressive sight in the forests will be the 1964 Ford Falcon of Swedish driver Per Garansson.
Entries are also open for the two support events. The Peregrine Print Rally will start in Sunderland and cover 53 stage miles on Saturday, while the Clubman’s Rally will be based in central Kielder and cover 49 stage miles on Sunday. With a £100 discount for crews entering both rallies, the overall package offers 102 forest stage miles for £800.
For more details about the Roger Albert Clark Rally, please visit www.rogeralbertclarkrally.org