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Thursday, 28 August 2014

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Thousands watch start of Pirelli Rally in Cumbria

The roar of engines and the smell of fuel filled the air as thousands watched the start of the Pirelli Rally.

Pirelli rally photo
The rally attracted thousands of spectators

The event is a major date in the motorsport calendar and crowds packed the pedestrianised centre of Carlisle to wave off competitors at the launch round of the British Rally Championship.

Families, some wearing huge Pirelli-sponsored hands, checked out the action while other enthusiasts took pictures and watched the motors that would compete at speed for sporting glory.

The annual event brings a big cash injection to Carlisle, with hotels, bed-and-breakfast businesses and restaurants, cafes and bars all benefiting from a Bank Holiday boost from the army of motorsport fans arriving in their droves.

Among those watching were Carol and Abi Watt, who live off London Road in Carlisle.

Ten-year-old Abi said: “I like the fast cars. My dad got me into it. He watches all the motorsport on the TV.”

Carol said they came to watch every year, adding: “It’s good for getting people into the city and it’s good for the economy.”

The rally, which ran over the weekend, started from in front of the Old Town Hall before heading off to Kielder Forest for competitive stages.

Yesterday’s action was around Kershope Forest, north of Longtown, and nearby Newcastleton, across the border, with Carlisle Racecourse hosting motorsport displays and a motor show.

Rally driver, Peter Taylor, 21, of Smithfield, near Carlisle, was among the competitors.

He said the local launch and the local fans made it a special event. “There’s not much of a better place to start than this,” he added.

Events in Carlisle doubled up this year as a fundraiser for the Richard Burns Foundation, an organisation established in memory of the former world rally champion who died of a brain tumour aged just 34.

The worth of the rally to Carlisle in previous years has been estimated at about £1m. A study is taking place this year to confirm the current economic impact.

This year is the 22nd that the event has been sponsored by Pirelli, one of Carlisle’s biggest employers.

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