THE Rockingham Stages returns for an incredible eleventh consecutive season this weekend (December 6/7) with the rally once again providing the finale to a fantastic year of motorsport at the Northamptonshire circuit.
Reigning champion Paul King will be looking to make it three in a row after winning the title in 2012 with Alicia Miles before successfully defending his crown with Fiona Scarlett last season. However it will be Miles back in the Ford RS co-driver’s seat this time out.
With more than 60 crews already confirmed King/Miles will need to be on top form if they’re going to retain the title. Among the challengers will be 2011 victor Pete Raynor who has been joined by Richard Bonner in his Ford MK2, and Lindholme MSC’s John Saunders/Tony Hart.
Also look out for the Mitsubishi Evo 6 of experienced racing driver and recent rally convert, David Gathercole, who has teamed up with Rockingham’s Head of Operations, Cat Lund, for this event.
Last season’s Rockingham Junior Stages champions Alex Mills and Ian Pepper will be hoping to defend their crown, however the winners of the Sunday Trophy Rally, Tony Clements and Dave Town have yet to confirm their attendance.
Joint organisers Thame Motorsport Club and Middlesex County Automobile Club will utilise every inch of road at the venue, including the access roads, tunnels, pit lanes and paddock area as well as a combination of the in-field circuit and the banked oval, to provide 97 miles of competitive motoring over 12 stages.
Six stages take place on Saturday, including the infamous two stages in the dark, which are guaranteed to provide entertainment, with the remaining six stages taking place the following day.
In addition there will be the usual Sunday Trophy Rally, offering six stages over 47 miles for those who don’t wish to take part in both days. While for those with smaller engine cars there’s a special 1-litre class.
The action starts at midday on Saturday and 10am on Sunday. Tickets cost just £10 on the day, or £15 for both days, and there’s free admission for children under 16.
Spectators and service crews can enjoy a great view of the stages from the pit garage roof and from the grandstand seats of the Rockingham Building. Everyone can warm up in the Welcome Centre which will be open for hot food and drink all day and will also host a rally get together on Saturday evening.
Rally results will be available online at www.rockinghamstages.co.uk