Paul Lawrence Reports on one of the toughest rallies in historic motorsport
McCormack the third
Marty McCormack and Barney Mitchell won the 2019 Roger Albert Clark Rally in late November after a fabulous battle with Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke on the 13th edition of this unique event.
Marty McCormack on the way to a record third RAC win. Photos Paul Lawrence
For four and a half days, over 31 special stages, McCormack drove faultlessly to take a 52-second victory after more than five hours of flat out rallying. However, the result was in doubt until the very end as Pritchard never stopped chasing despite a puncture in Scotland on Sunday morning that proved a turning point in his rally.
Both Ford Escort Mk2 crews thrilled the fans as they quickly pulled away from the rest of the quality field and battled from Wales to Kielder and into Scotland. McCormack made history by becoming the first driver to win the rally for a third time. “Absolutely fantastic!” he enthused, “We’ve had a brilliant rally and fought hard from the start. Jason and Phil are great lads to race against and it’s been a tough battle all weekend.” McCormack first won the rally in 2012 with Clarke co-driving and their friendship ensured that the 2019 lead battle was as sporting as it was fierce. “It’s been a true team effort and a huge thanks to all the fans and supporters out there cheering us on in the stages,” said McCormack. “There really isn’t another rally like it.”
David Bennett was a star performer in his 1600cc Ford Escort
The Ford Escort Mk2 contest topped the field as 126 competitors pitched themselves against 300 competitive miles in the forests of Wales, Northumberland and Southern Scotland. Dauntingly long stages in ‘killer Kielder’ and, at times, thick fog added to the challenge and simply getting to the finish was a mammoth achievement for many. This was the longest and toughest special stage rally in Britain for more than 20 years.
Jason Pritchard took the battle to McCormack
Into third after a supremely consistent performance, albeit 11 minutes on from McCormack, came Roger Chilman and Patrick Walsh (Escort Mk2), while Wayne Sisson and Neil Shanks (Mitsubishi Galant) won their category as they ended the rally just one second up on the Pinto-powered Ford Escort Mk2 of Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson.
Arne Backstrom brought his Volvo from Sweden but rolled out on the nal day
For a full report see our January/February 2020 issue
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