R.A.C. racers ready for Dalby Forest test

THE Roger Albert Clark Rally, one of the world’s most famous historic car rallies, returns to Dalby Forest and Duncombe Park this weekend.

The event, that began in 2004, gets underway at Duncombe Park, where the cars will undertake a challenging 2.5 mile first stage that immediately heads into trees on a broken concrete surface originally laid during World War Two when the Park was used to train soldiers how to drive tanks.

Croft Rally

Croft Rally

From Duncombe Park the rally heads into Dalby Forest before it progresses to Langdale.

This year the event does not include a stage at the Oliver’s Mount circuit in Scarborough, which it traditionally has done. This is due to the availability of the Croft Race track in Darlington for this year’s rally.

The rally eventually concludes in Carlisle city centre.

The Dalby Forest stage of the rally includes some night-time racing, which is regarded as one of the most exciting and challenging parts of the competition.

R.A.C. press officer Carl Mckellar said: “The Dalby Forest stage is brilliant and it attracts a lot of interest.

“It is quite a spectacle when you have these cars with their massive headlights flying through the darkness in the middle of the night.

“We usually get around 10,000 spectators in the forest. At one of the corners alone, ‘the woodyard’, where there is a big spectator area, there can be 2,000 people there taking in the action.

“People drive into the forest hours before the cars are due to come through just so they can secure themselves the best vantage points.”

Guy Smith, Le Mans 24 Hours champion in 2003, is competing in his fourth R.A.C. this year and is a big fan of the challenge the Dalby Forest stage provides.

He said: “Dalby Forest is always a great stage of the rally, all of the stages in the Yorkshire forests are good.

“It is always a challenge going straight into the darkness.

“There is no time to get settled in, you are straight into the night and it can be quite daunting.

“Everyone is a bit nervous on the Friday before the night-stages, but I am still looking forward to it

“It is not just the fact that the Dalby stage is at night that makes it so challenging, it is also tough due to how how quick it is. There are some very long straights so you are going pretty fast.

“I enjoy it though, the more I do it, the more I enjoy it.”