After a day of scrutineering and documentation checking, the 91 competitors of the 2018 RAC Rally of the Tests finally sped off the Harrogate start line at 5.00pm on Thursday 8 November, marking the start of the famous Rally’s Prologue.
The shorter stint still threw up some tricky tests and tough regularities, including a cleverly concealed ‘Timing Point’ challenge which baffled ten of the competitors. After completing the circuit, competitors arrived back at the Crown Plaza Hotel HQ for dinner and drinks before the first full length stage.
Day One was the longest stint of the rally, covering 280 miles from Harrogate to the East Midlands, and containing no fewer than eleven tests and six regularities. Starting early, a highlight of the day included a run of the famous Harewood Hillclimb, but to keep competitors on their toes they were asked to race down the hill. The day finished at the luxurious Belfry Hotel where results on the Official Noticeboard showed that Steve Entwistle and Ali Procter were leading by 14 seconds.
Day Two saw the first competitors set off from the Belfry Hotel at 7.46am. Although a shorter stint compared to the first day, it was no less challenging, incorporating ten tests, seven regularities and a couple of time control sections before competitors reached the Day’s end at the Celtic Manor Resort. After some composed racing, the day ended with Paul Wagnall and Mark Appleton gaining a narrow lead in the race.
A slightly later start time of 8.00am was set for the final day of the Rally, as competitors awoke to begin the 175-mile journey from South Wales to Bristol. Passing landmarks like Worthy Farm and Castle Combe, the skill and nerve of the navigators and drivers was tested in the final stint of the Rally. The race end took competitors up the M5 Motorway to Tortworth Court Hotel where the Finish Arch was located.
After checks and double checks by the results crew, it was Paul Wignall and Mark Appleton who sprayed the victory champagne over their 1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint as winners of the RAC Rally of the Tests 2018. Runners up included Dan Willan and Martyn Taylor and the final podium place went to Steve Entwistle and Ali Procter.
Entries for the 2019 RAC Rally of The Tests will open in the New Year.
To view images from this year’s RAC Rally of the Tests, please click here.