BARRY Johnson's hopes of securing a second win in the SG Petch Hamsterley Forest Stages Rally came to an abrupt halt when he crashed at more than 100mph and was forced to retire, writes MATT WESTCOTT.

The Shildon driver damaged his wrist in the accident at the weekend while 14 seconds ahead of the field and seemingly on course to take the title in his Barrier Surveillance Subaru Impreza WRC.

The accident left the door open for Midlands marauders Roger Duckworth and co-driver Mark Broomfield who made the long trip from Towcester.

Using the event to test parts prior to a winter rebuild on his Autosportif Subaru WRC, Duckworth had to play second fiddle in the opening loop to Johnson and his co driver Stewart Merry.

Duckworth headed Ripon MSC member Tim Pearcey from Harrogate and co driver Colin Stockill in their Kerridge sponsored MSR Motorsport Mitsubishi, while Hyundai Accent WRC debutante Stephen Petch from Scorton and his co-driver Mike Wilkinson (Tow Law) were scrapping with another Ripon MSC pair in the shape of the Ford Puma Evo 4 x 4 of Leeming's Kevin Procter and Mike Gilby (Northallerton).

Sensibly, Duckworth eased the pace on the final 12 mile test as he scented victory but the battle was on for runner-up spot and Petch showed he was a chip off the old block by setting a sizzling pace in dad Steve's car to snatch second place from the impressive Pearcey in the final few miles.

Jamaican John Powell - who had roped in Mitsubishi Evo winner Ryan Champion as co-driver in the MSR Motorsport Lancer was third with Procter claiming fourth.

Bishop Auckland driver Tristan Pye and co-driver Andrew Roughead finished fifth in their JPM Subaru ahead of Ingleton's Tony Thompson and co-driver Jon Dunning (MSR Mitsubishi Lancer), while the Newcastle pairing of Michael Glendinning and Ron Roughead (Subaru Impreza) edged out Cumbrians William Jarman and Alex Benn (Ford Escort Cosworth).