THIS year's Roger Albert Clark Rally will have a completely new look as Sunderland takes over as the host city.

The North's premier rallying event, which had previously started in Pickering and taken in stages in Yorkshire and the North-West, will now start and finish in Sunderland.

Scheduled for the weekend of November 28-30, the route will make extensive use of the Kielder Forest complex and feature a number of stages that are completely new to the event.

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Based around the Seaburn Leisure Centre, this year's RAC will boast a competitive route of 190 stage miles and feature a showcase spectator stage at Herrington Country Park.

The format of the rally, which has evolved over the last two years, will continue, starting with several stages in the darkness of Friday evening before two full days of rallying on the Saturday and Sunday.

Initial route plans include over 90 stage miles on Saturday, with a route heading as far west as Kershope. Sunday’s stages will be centred on the main Kielder complex before a finish in Sunderland at around 6pm.

Colin Heppenstall, the rally manager, said: “This is the major refresh I wanted to give the event. We’ve always moved the host city on a regular basis and the time was right to refresh.

“This should deliver the fresh challenge that the competitors wanted. We are very grateful to everyone involved at Sunderland for their enthusiastic cooperation and for their eagerness to welcome the event to Sunderland.”

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, added: “We've got major sporting traditions here in our city and a strong automotive industry.

“Now, hosting the Roger Albert Clark Rally, we have a major motorsport event and everyone can see part of the rally with the stage at Herrington Country Park. The organisers say it's going to be a spectator spectacular and I'm sure it will be.”