THOUSANDS of people are set to turn out for an event that will see some of the country’s best drivers and most spectacular cars race through North Yorkshire forests.

The 2023 Riponian Stages Rally sponsored by K.T. Green gets underway on Sunday (February 12).

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Organised and run by the Ripon Motor Sport Club, the rally will see 111 crews tackle six challenging stages totaling 43 miles in Gale Rigg, Cropton Forest and Wass Moor. Drivers, co-drivers and support teams are coming from all over the United Kingdom, Ireland and even further afield.

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Ripon Motor Sport Club Chairman, Doug Smith, said: "The event brings people from all areas of the country – Scotland, Wales, the South West, London and the South East, along with many competitors from Yorkshire.

"The financial benefit to local hotels, guest houses, restaurants and the local economy in general is huge.

"Ripon Motor Sport Club has no less than 12 of its own members competing in the event, mainly in Historic rally cars including Mk.1 and Mk.2 Ford Escorts, Minis and MGs. Spectators can expect to see some fast, spectacular action in the forests.”

York Press: Riponian Stages Rally, run by the Ripon Motor Sport Club, takes place in Gale Rigg, Cropton Forest and Wass MoorRiponian Stages Rally, run by the Ripon Motor Sport Club, takes place in Gale Rigg, Cropton Forest and Wass Moor (Image: Ripon Motor Sport Club)

Public road closures will be in effect in some areas along the rally route.

These include sections that are being used as part of the competitive stages, as well as spectator parking.

Full details can be found on the Ripon Motor Sport Club website.

Clerk of the Course, Alan Hill, said: “The event is the culmination of a full year of work by a dedicated team of volunteers to provide all the competitors with a testing day of motorsport. The organising team will be ably assisted on the day by more than 300 marshals and safety teams to make sure the event runs smoothly and safely. As has become traditional on the event, the two-wheel drive cars will run first on the road, followed by the more modern four-wheel drive cars. It’ll be an action-packed day of rallying.”

It's the second year running, the Riponian Stages Rally is hosting the opening round of the hotly contested Motorsport UK Fuchs Lubricants Historic Rally Championship, and welcomes competitors from the Northern, North-Western and North-East & Cumbria rally championships.

The two-wheel-drive cars of the Historic Rally Championship will run first on the road. Organisers are expecting a close contest between Ripon's Matthew Robinson, who took victory in the Historic category on the 2022 Riponian Stages Rally, and the hard-charging Marty McCormack who is visiting from Ireland. Both drive 1970s Ford Escort Mk.2s, one of the most iconic rally cars of all time. 

Among the local drivers are Ian Jemison from York (Porsche Boxster), Gary Beckwith from Ripon (Ford Escort Mk.2), Terry Cree from Thirsk (Mini Cooper S), John Hepworth from Harrogate (Ford Escort Mk.2) and Steve Magson from Pickering (Vauxhall Astra). Spectators are welcomed at the designated spectator areas on the Gale Rigg, Cropton and Wass stages. Each of the three stages will be run twice, in the morning and afternoon and there’s a £10 charge for parking.