Darlington and District Motor Club’s annual Jack Frost Stages Rally in association with Cartersport which takes place at Croft Circuit, North Yorkshire next Sunday (21st January 2018), will see one of the best ever entries assembled.
A capacity 90-car entry will see Le Mans 24 Hour winner and 2016 Jack Frost winner Guy Smith, along with co-driver Patrick Walsh seeded at number one in their Ford Focus WRC. They are ahead of multiple Christmas Stages winner Kevin Procter, who has Derrick Fawcett on the notes in their Ford Fiesta WRC, with four-times winner Paul Bird returning in the Ford Focus WRC he’s sharing with Jack Morton at car three.
Darlington stuntman Paul Swift and co-driver Cat Lund are away at four in their Millington-powered 2.5 litre Ford Escort Mk2, ahead of local aces Tony Bardy/Tony Walker (Ford Focus WRC) with Peter Stephenson and Ian Windress at number six in their Subaru WRC.
The unique Mini WRC of Kevin Feeney/Sean Donnelly is at seven with Peter Smith/Graham Wild in another Ford WRC at eight whilst the top ten is rounded out by Scotsmen Gordon Morrison/Calum MacPherson (Subaru) and Alan Kirkcaldy/Cameron Fair (Ford Fiesta R5).
Sadly, last year’s winners, Graeme Bell and Russ Radford, have had to withdraw their Millington Proton Neo Satria due to accident damage sustained on the recent Swift Signs Christmas Stages Rally and winners of that event, Simon de Banke and Phil Mills, had planned another run out at Croft in their Ford Fiesta R5 but have recently withdrawn too.
In the various classes, expect a battle between the powerful Ford Escorts Mk2s of Swift, Terry Clarke, Rob Snowden and Mark Jasper in Class 4, with Class 3 expected to be contested between Kenny Moore (Hillman Avenger), Edward Todd (Ford Escort) and Mark Thompson’s Peugeot 206.
The 1600cc Class 2 will see Stevie Irwin’s Vauxhall Nova as the car to beat although the likes of Martin Peters (Citroen Saxo), Mark Burton (Ford Fiesta XR2) and Larry Carter (Peugeot 206) hope to be in the mix whilst in the Class 6 Historics, there is a healthy entry headed by the Ford Escorts of Darren Grimston, Peter Slights and Dave Forrest.
But it’s perhaps the Class 1 battle that is most anticipated with Mark Constantine, along with son Tom on the maps for the first time, up against Joe Cunningham/Marc Fowler in their respective 1400cc Vauxhall Corsas.
One entry to keep an eye on is the prize drive for the 2017 ANECCC SG Petch Rally Championship which will see one crew at the wheel of Steve Petch’s WD40-backed Ford Fiesta S2000. With the winner Steve Bannister once again graciously stepping aside to allow runners-up Barry Lindsay and co-driver Caroline Lodge to take up the offer, which no other regional or national championship provides, the crew and championship organisers would like to place their thanks to Steve for supplying such a wonderful prize once again whereby Barry and Caroline are seeded at number 17.
The event will again comprise up to eight stages totalling around 40 stage miles on the asphalt of the North East’s only permanent race track and is a qualifying round of three major local championships including the 2018 SG Petch ANECCC, the 2018 AS Performance North of England Tarmac and the 2018 ANCC Championships.
The first car starts at 08:57 and the full entry list can be found at www.darlington-motor-club.org.uk. Adult admission costs £12 with accompanied children aged 15 and under free, with free car parking on hard standing within the circuit confines. There is free access to the service area, commentary provided and toilet/catering facilities available. Further information is available from Croft Circuit on 01325 721815 or from www.croftcircuit.co.uk.
Picture attached (courtesy of Tony Todd): Rob Snowden (Ford Escort Mk2) in action on last year’s Jack Frost Stages Rally in association with Cartersport at Croft.