39-mile stage to conclude 2023 Roger Albert Clark Rally
The Roger Albert Clark Rally will conclude with a mammoth 39-mile final stage, the longest gravel special stage in UK rallying for 40 years.
The stage, being called ‘The Big One’, will run in the early afternoon of Monday November 27 and will be the deciding stage in the marathon event. The Roger Albert Clark Rally will run from 23 to 27 November covering 350 stage miles in the forests of England, Scotland and Wales.
‘The Big One’ will run in the Pundershaw region of Kielder forest in Northumberland and will cover 39.22 miles. Earlier in the day, much of the stage route will be used in three stages which will then be joined up to give the rally its longest ever special stage.
The stage will be the 33rd and final stage of the rally and it is expected that the leading crews will take more than 40 minutes to tackle the stage. Some of the less powerful and older cars could be live in the stage for approaching an hour.
It was in 1983 that the last 40 mile stage ran in the UK in Dalby forest on the 1983 Lombard RAC Rally. In 1995, a shorter 36.59 mile Pundershaw stage was run on the Network Q RAC Rally.
In order to make the stage work as smoothly as possible, some changes will be made to the normal procedure. Course car duties will be split between two teams to ensure that the stage is ready to go on time and procedures are in place to record interim times in case there are any stoppages.
The running order for the rally will be amended for the final stage with cars due to start the stage based on overall position at the end of Sunday’s leg. So, the overall leading crews will be the first cars into the stage and the field will run in one group in position order with no gaps. The turn-round in running order after the morning stages will be achieved by a regroup control at nearby Kielder dam.
Rally manager Colin Heppenstall said: “After four and a half days of rallying, this stage will be a real sting in the tail. A lot of people remember the long stages run on the original RAC Rally and we thought it would be good to re-create that era. Of course, a 39-mile stage could have a dramatic impact on the final results!”
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