One thing you can be certain of in respect of this weekend’s Legend Fires North West Stages Rally is that a significant number of cars that start the event won’t finish it… writes Phil James. 

The Blackpool based event gets underway this evening with a short set of four special stages with the bulk of the action coming tomorrow with a further twenty stages crammed into a tight time schedule. 

Over the years the rally has gained a fearsome reputation as being one of the toughest on the calendar with a high rate of attrition. Most years around half the cars that start fall by the wayside, often due to some form of mechanical failure, whilst accidents will account for others and some will simply run out of time!

 Last year saw Grange-over-Sands co-driver Heather Grisedale team up with Rob Iveson, from Shap, as the pair made their first ever attempt at the event in a Peugeot 309.

 Their early progress was hampered by a misfire issue but once that was traced to a malfuncunctioning ignition amplifier and the fault rectified they went on to finish 42nd overall and sixth in class. 

This year they are competing in a Ford Ka that Rob bought on a well-known auction site for the princely sum of £500. With help from his Dad, Brian, he’s stripped it to a bare shell, welded as required, fitted a roll cage, sandblasted, and painted it. 

The car has been equipped with a 16 valve 1600cc Ford Focus engine so it’s now ready to rally! Amongst the other Cumbria crews looking for success beside the seaside are Frizington husband and wife team Keith and Jackie Richardson. 

They will be competing in their familiar Ford Escort Cosworth in which they recorded a top twenty finish on last year’s rally. Having won the 1400cc Class Runners-up awards on last month’s Jack Frost Stages, Whitehaven’s Stephen Bethwaite and Arlecdon’s Ann Forster will be hoping to add to their trophy collection. 

They are contesting the rally in the Blackbeck Brewery backed Vauxhall Nova in which they’ve already recorded three North West Stages Class A wins. Spectators can view the rally for free at a number of venues and times as listed on the website