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Saturday, 22 November 2014

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Malcolm Wilson Rally boosts west Cumbria economy

Rally fans delivered a huge economic boost to west Cumbria.

Rally race photo
A spectator dashes clear of one of the cars in Saturday’s race. Photo: Malcolm Hendren

Ronnie Sandham, secretary of the 38th Malcolm Wilson Rally, said that Saturday’s weather and an appearance from M-Sport boss Mr Wilson himself brought out the crowds out in their thousands.

This year attracted a bumper entry list from all over the country – 110 competitors, the highest in the UK for 20 years – and Mr Wilson himself also competed.

James Briggs, assistant manager at The Trout Hotel in Cockermouth, said that event brought a lot of business to the town.

He said: “The food and drink sales were incredible. It’s a great event to have and we support it.”

The weekend also saw the relaunch of Cockermouth’s monthly market.

Mrs Sandham said: “We had the most beautiful weather and it was one of the highest levels of competition in the UK for 20 years. We had competitors from South Africa, Slovenia, Ireland and Northern Ireland. It was marvellous.”

Mr Wilson was accompanied by co-driver John Millington Credit.

He showed off his brand new Super 2400 car – in his own rally.

The new engine, developed by engineers at the rally preparation base in Cockermouth, will be fitted to a Ford Fiesta s2000 car.

Mr Wilson’s son Matthew drove the new R5 rally car, at the front of the field, as ‘course car’, with world-renowned co-driver Chris Patterson beside him reading the pacenotes.

“It was an amazing spectacle and the competition was quite intense,” said Mrs Sandham.

“There were 110 competitors and the spectators were in the thousands – more than we have had for a long time.”

About 120 rally crews and cars arrived at M-Sport headquarters at Dovenby Hall, Cockermouth, on Friday for the weekend event.

The winner was Euan Thorburn with co-driver Paul Beaton, with Paul Bird and Carl Williamson only 20 seconds behind.

Bird, back in his local forests after his retirement on last year’s Grizedale Stages, the British Superbike and MotoGP team boss from Langwathby, set about his chase for victory with fastest times on the opening two stages in Hobcarton and Comb which he consolidated in Greystoke to lead by five seconds over Thorburn going into the two tricky Grizedale stages.

But the forest near Coniston wasn’t kind to the three times winner once again and Bird surrendered the lead to Thorburn by eight seconds. The Scot increased that advantage to 26 seconds after the 10.8 miles of Grizedale South.

Bird clawed back eight seconds with the fastest time in Greystoke to set up a thrilling climax but only the short Wythop test remained where Thorburn eased to victory to deny the former National Champion a fourth win to equal Bill Dobie’s 30-year record.

Bird said: “After losing out by just three seconds last year, I was really up for winning this year although I knew it wouldn’t be easy with such a strong entry.

“I thought I was driving really well but he took a chunk of time out of me so fair play to him.

“ I’m a bit deflated to be honest as well as a little disappointed but I can have no excuses.

“The car was faultless, Carl and the team did a great job, but I’ll be back again next year to try and get that elusive fourth win.”

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