Cumbria welcomes the 2017 Pirelli International Rally

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CUMBRIA is playing host to one of the country's biggest motorsport events this weekend - the 2017 Pirelli International Rally.

Hundreds flocked to Carlisle's Pirelli tyre making plant on the city's Dalston Road this morning to soak up the atmosphere.

The drivers, co-drivers and teams of 45 rally cars lined up in the grounds of the factory for the ceremonial start of the two-day event, which is the second round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship.

Children were given the chance to wave off individual cars in turn from the 11am start as part of a family fun day.

Visitors included families of employees at the Carlisle plant as well as invited dignitaries such as the city's mayor and mayoress, councillor Colin and Ellen Stothard.

Attractions included fairground rides, flight simulators, tyre changing challenges, rodeo bull rides, mini diggers for children, tours of part of the factory, and a range of supercars.

Jennifer Storey, whose husband Michael works at the factory, was enjoying her first visit to the rally, taking along her daughter Katherine, granddaughter Faye, aged five, and two-year-old grandson Jamie.

Mrs Storey, of Morton Park, Carlisle said: "The children are really enjoying it and it is great to get so close to all the cars and have a good look."

The Rosehill Industrial Estate on the eastern side of the city is the official service area for this weekend's rally.

Tomorrow the focus will be on Brampton as the market town hosts the ceremonial finish to the event.

Spectators are set to head to the heart of the town, which will feature a big screen TV, car displays and the Pirelli Formula 1 simulator. The first cars will be expected from around midday.

This weekend's rally is also a round of the British Rally Historic Championship and the Motoscope Northern Historic Rally Championship.

Today's opening historic section of the rally saw Nick Elliott/ Dave Price in their Ford Escort scrape home to a narrow win.

It is Elliott’s third success on the Carlisle-based event and continues their dominance of the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship.

They were followed by Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke in second place and third placed duo Steve Bannister and Callum Atkinson.

The fast flowing stages were extremely dry and dusty, making it extremely slippy for the front runners.

The Pirelli International Rally has also regained its FIA International Rally status this year.

* See Monday's News & Star for further coverage

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