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Major motoring rally coming to Bishop Auckland town centre
A historic town centre will become a magnet for motoring fans and rally enthusiasts next month as a major competition rolls into town.
Bishop Auckland marketplace will be used as the start and finishing point for the SG Petch Tour of Hamsterley on Sunday, April 28.
More than 80 cars are expected to take part, including one driven by rallying legend Jimmy McRae, father of World Rally Champion, the late Colin McRae.
Organisers expect the day’s racing to bring £400,000 into the local economy with many hotels and bed and breakfast’s already filling up with bookings.
Steve Waggett, clerk of the course for the SG Petch Tour, said: “We are delighted to be visiting the town centre this year.
“The rally is for both modern rally cars, including SG Petch Garages – our principle sponsors – own ex-world championship Ford Focus WRC, and older ones.
“We are also hosting the new National RAC Rally Championship for historic rally cars.”
Mr Waggett also praised the Bishop Auckland and Shildon Area Action Partnership for their enthusiasm for the project.
Town centre county councillor Sam Zair has given £5,000 from his neighbourhood budget run by the partnership to the event.
He said: “It’s going to be a brilliant day for Bishop Auckland.
“The town is in desperate need of something positive and this will bring people out in force, I would urge town centre traders to be open on the day.”
Councillor Zair has been working on bringing the rally to the town for the first time since 1986 after being approached by Bishop Auckland businessman, Mike Williams.
Mr Williams, managing director of Spoors gas distributor on Railway Street, said: “We have a town centre full of wonderful architecture, but it needs to be used. This is going to be huge for the area.”
The cars will travel 140 miles on the day, including 45 miles of challenging rallying across seven stages in Hamsterley Forest, eight miles away from Bishop Auckland Town Centre.
Rally drivers will start on the historic Fore Bondgate shopping street with the first expected to leave the town at 8.30am and the rest following at one minute intervals.
There will also be other events running in the town centre during the day of the rally.
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