Market Place hosts start of Hamsterley rally

More than ninety rally cars crossed the start/finish line in Bishop Auckland’s Market Place this weekend.

The rally is a classic forest special stage car rally in which competitors cross the start line in one minute intervals. The course comprises gravel roads set in the forest, with the winner simply the quickest crew. Reliability is key to success over the demanding course, and works in Shildon were established to service the cars.

Cars included historic rally Escorts from the RAC Rally Championship and more modern World Rally Championship cars including Mitsubishi’s and Ford’s. Local competitors included Stephen Petch, hoping to do well with a recently acquired ex Jari Matti Latvala Ford Focus WRC, whilst other competitors had traveled hundreds of miles to be at the event.

The Market Place also played host to a vintage bus and classic Rover P6 that have both appeared in ITV dramas. A pristine collection of classic Jaguar cars was also on display.

It is the second large event that the Market Place has hosted this month, following the two-day Food Festival held on the previous weekend.

“Although it’s a cold day, the atmosphere is absolutely electric,” explained Beryl Anderson from Durham County Council’s events team. “Everybody’s really enjoying it. The chequered flags of the grand prix are flowing.”

It is hoped the event will have encouraged visitors into the town with a boost to the local economy.