Our region is gearing up for the annual Malcolm Wilson Rally which gets underway tomorrow.

More than 90 competitors from around the country - and the world - will venture to Cumbria to tackle the fast gravel stages of our breath-taking forests.

Starting from the market town of Cockermouth with a service break at Penrith, the event totals 44 competitive miles across seven stages and - forming part of the BTRDA, Motorsport UK English and ANECCC championships - a host of well-known names are up for the challenge.

Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson will take to the wheel of a Ford Fiesta RS WRC as will Charles Payne and Patrick Walsh. George Lepley and Tom Woodburn will showcase their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, and Dylan Davies and Llion Williams will be in action with their Škoda Fabia R5.

Also among the big names is M-Sport’s latest star - talented young Frenchman, Adrien Fourmaux, who will contest the event alongside Belgian co-driver Renaud Jamoul in the rally team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 MkII.

“The Malcolm Wilson Rally is obviously a pretty special one for Malcolm and the team,” said Team Principal, Richard Millener, “and this year we’re able to compete with Adrien and our latest car.

“It’s not always easy as it’s at the same time as Rally Mexico, but this year we were able to make it work.

“It’s great to put one of our top cars and drivers out there for the locals to see, but it’s also a good opportunity for Adrien to get some more time behind the wheel.

“He won’t restart his FIA World Rally Championship campaign until Rally Portugal at the end of May, so this gives him some added seat-time and some additional gravel testing before his WRC 2 campaign gets going again.

“I’ve competed in the Malcolm Wilson Rally four times myself,” continued Millener, “twice as a driver and twice as a co-driver, and I have to say that the stages are fairly epic.

“Adrien is definitely going to have a lot of fun out there as he discovers more about the car on gravel - and I expect he’ll do a bit better than I did!”

All those wishing to head out and spectate are reminded that the Greystoke stages are not open to the public this year, and to follow the direction and instruction of the marshals at all time.

The Visitor Centre on Whinlatter Pass provides the car park for the Hobcarton and Comb stages.

A small walk across the road to Revelin Moss provides a really good junction for viewing on the Hobcarton stage.

As for Comb, the forest trails provide access to junctions where the Forestry Commission have felled many trees giving more exciting views.

The Siskins café is also open for coffee and bacon butties for those in need of a warm up after the action!

There is limited capacity at Wythop with a steep uphill to the viewing point.

The spectator point on Grizedale South is at the Scissors crossroads and can be accessed via a new footpath from the stage start.

And there are two places to view on Grizedale North - High Cross at the north of the forest provides access to three spectator points with ample parking, and Moor Top provides access with disabled parking.

Before venturing out to any stages, spectators are reminded to check the website and follow all of the latest information and maps.

But it’s not just at home where our region’s stars will be rallying this weekend.

On the national front, M-Sport will be running two Ford Fiesta R5 MkIIs in the British Rally Championship - one for championship-leader Matt Edwards and another for third-placed man Rhys Yates as they cross the Irish Sea to tackle the Tarmac roads of West Cork.

And further afield in Mexico, M-Sport will also contest the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship with three EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs for Esapekka Lappi, Teemu Suninen and Gus Greensmith. As will Carlisle co-driver and championship-leader Scott Martin - all going head-to-head for the top results on the first gravel event of the year.

Elsewhere, last weekend Spadeadam Motor Club held their annual awards night at the Skitby Restaurant near Carlisle.

Guest speaker Glenn Patterson entertained members with stories from when he navigated in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship as well as tips from his PR Skills and how to get started in motorsport.

Patterson presented awards to the Club Champions: Graham Petry picked up the Junior Award, Helen Harkness was presented with the Ladies Award, and Barry Lindsay - who is also in action at the Malcolm Wilson Rally - named Overall Club Champion.