The 2012 Roger Albert Clark Rally winners – Marty McCormack and Phil Clarke resumed their battle with the ever experienced Steve Bannister, in his similar 2 litre BDG engined MK2 Escort and stormed to victory on the second round of the West Wales Rally Spares R.A.C. Rally Championship at the Tour of Hamsterley Rally.
The historic championship described by Marty as the one of the best series in the world, sees crews battle in equal machines regulated by historic classifications on rounds around the British Isles. It is dominated by the venerable BDG MK2 Escorts and is supported by many experienced and high paced crews from former works drivers and British Champions to local specialists – each more than capable of taking the top step of the podium.
Following on from a terrific first round battle with Nick Elliott, where Marty finished a fantastic second overall, he entered the slippery second round knowing a great battle lay ahead. Marty and Phil went 45 secs clear after seven tough and slippery stages in the Co. Durham forest complex. The event was supported by masses of spectators who lined the forest route and who reportedly pumped an estimated half-million pounds into the local economy.
McCormack set a fierce pace and by the time the crews arrived at second service, he had 32 secs in hand over Ryan Barrett and Barry Ferris. Ryan then went into the final 14-mile Sharnberry stage with the aim of holding off Steve Bannister rather than chasing Marty. Though Steve surged through capitalising on a final stage and a puncture for Ryan and finished second to Marty.
After keeping his Escort out of trouble unlike some of the opposition, Marty commented at the finish, “I’m on cloud nine after a really fantastic battle, there was no real dramas,” letting him take the early championship lead with maximum points.
Marty is still trying hard to secure a deal to drive more modern machinery but surprisingly on this event he was matching times with world rally cars in the Open Category and was keen to thank his sponsors Peter McCormack and Sons, Kumho Tyres, Ian Millar Fabrication and PPP Group for their continued support.