Home win for Cumbria in Pirelli rally
IT was a home win for Carlisle-based CA1 Sports as the roar of Britain's best rally cars saw north Cumbria host the Pirelli International Rally.
Winning driver Fredrik Ahlin, this time with co-driver Torstein Eriksen, repeated his 2016 success with victory once again today.
Champagne was sprayed across the team mates and the awaiting media pack as the top three driving duos celebrated on the town centre cobbles in Brampton, in front of its historic Moot Hall.
Martin Wilkinson, director of CA1 Sports which has its base at the city's Kingmoor Park, was delighted.
He said: "It is great to win once again. We had four cars in the rally and all four cars came home so that it always good too.
"It is a great event. In some ways it is easier for us as it is on home turf and the team doesn't have to travel and stay in hotels but the rally itself is always tough because the stages around Kielder are always hard on the cars."
Brampton's town crier Brian Pease welcomed back every car, alongside flag-waving local children.
Mr Pease said: "It is wonderful to see so many people in the middle of Brampton welcoming the Pirelli Rally and enjoying all the fun which has been laid on for them."
The two-day event got underway yesterday morning at the Pirelli's UK largest UK tyre manufacturing plant, located off Dalston Road in Carlisle.
The Mayor and Mayoress of Carlisle, councillor Colin and Ellen Stothard, were among the dignitaries and guests at the ceremonial start.
It is the 26th consecutive year that Pirelli has been the title sponsor of the rally, which is round two of the British Rally Championship (BRC).
Over 45 BRC rally cars departed one-by-one from the grounds of the factory cheered by a large crowd of employees, their families and friends.
Children given the chance to wave individual cars off included five-year-old Charlotte Tweddle, who was watching with her mum Kerry.
Mrs Tweddle, from Sandsfield Park, said: "My husband Stephen works for Carrylift here at the factory and so we were able to come along.
"All the children love the fact they're waving off the cars."
Sarah England, of London Road, went along with her mother Morag Bell, of Harraby, aunt Margaret Smethurst of Corby Hill, and family friend Hannan Kenyon, of Kirkandrews-on-Eden.
They were waving eagerly at every car as it set off from the base.
Sarah, whose 10-year-old son Benjamin was also among the crowds, said: "My sister Esther and brother-in-law Michael both work here. Esther's in the lab testing components and Michael drives forklift trucks.
"We're fascinated and like to come in when we can. We came last year too. It is great to see everything so close up."
Her mother Morag added: "It has been fascinating to go on the tour and find out all about the different components that go into making tyres.
"It's also fun cheering on all the cars as they go off. We've waved at each one and the drivers have all waved back at us."
The cars and their crews were taking on eight stages over the gravel tracks in Kielder Forest during the two days of competition.
The event coincided with Pirelli's annual family open day at the
Visitors, around 1,200 in total, enjoyed a host of activities including a display of supercars, a motorbike stunt show, the Pirelli Formula 1 simulator, a mini pit stop challenge, bouncy castle, and face painting.
Carlisle mayor Colin Stothard sat in the seat of a £250,000 Bentley.
He said: "It was a 4x4 style Bentley, brand new, and it was like sitting in an armchair.
"I didn't realise that Pirelli did so many different types of tyres for all the supercars and all the vehicles on display."
There were also mini diggers from Story Contracting, fairground rides, and a rodeo bull.
Tours of part of the factory were also popular with guests.
The Rosehill Industrial Estate on the eastern side of the city was the official service area over the two days of competition.
Matthew Corby, motorsport operations manager for Pirelli, said: "It’s great to once again be sponsoring the Carlisle Rally, it’s such a key event in the city and it has been fantastic seeing all the BRC cars leaving the factory.
"This year also marks 110 years of Pirelli in motorsport, an area which has been crucial to car tyres when it comes to developing new technology."
This weekend's rally has been the 41st running of the event.
The rally was also a round of the British Rally Historic Championship and the Motoscope Northern Historic Rally Championship.
The Pirelli International Rally also regained its FIA International Rally status this year.