IDEALLY you’d like to have around six months to prepare for the epic Roger Albert Clark Rally, but local duo Paul Barrett and Gordon Noble have decided to take just a few weeks to get ready for what they expect to be the experience of a lifetime.
The 2019 event, which is the 12th edition of the rally, is being billed as the ‘toughest yet’, with competitors set to face 300 stage miles over 32 stages during five days.
This will be the first running of the Roger Albert Clark Rally since 2017 and Barrett and Noble are already bracing themselves for what lies ahead during stages in England, Wales and Scotland!
The event will start in Brightwells in Leominster for a leg of more than 20 miles in the Welsh forests in the dark. A further 40-45 miles will run in Wales on the Friday before everyone up sticks and heads around five hours north to Carlisle for Saturday’s stages in the southern section of Kielder.
Sunday will be a full day of around 100 stages miles in southern Scotland before Monday’s sting-in-the-tail leg of another 70 miles in the central block of Kielder, before an afternoon finish in the Carlisle/Kielder area.
With such an itinerary ahead and with only a few weeks to prepare, Barrett is delighted to have a committed team behind him.
“The car is a bare shell and is undergoing a full rebuild because this is a massive undertaking for car, driver, mechanics, everyone,” he explained.
“But since I mentioned it, everyone has been working hard and this wouldn’t be possible without my loyal sponsors, family and friends.
“Gordon’s experience will be a big help too, because you do need it and thankfully he’s well up for the job – he wanted to do it and he’s keen to do it – which is a big help to me to know everything else will be sorted out.
“I’ve wanted to do this rally since I started, this is one on the bucket list. This is the best of the best – there’s no hiding place!”
And while excited about what lies ahead, Barrett, who won the British Historic Rally Championship in 2018, knows reliability – mechanical, mental and physical – will be the key components to finishing the event.
“It will be some challenge and I’m really, really looking forward to it,” added the Clanabogan man.
“I didn’t realise how big a challenge it is, but we’re entered now so it will be about preparation and serious effort more than anything else.
“We’re starting in Leominster on the Thursday evening and then it goes up to Carlisle. So we’ll finish at around 5pm on the Friday and then we have to drive the five and a half hours to Carlisle and get the car ready for the Saturday morning!
“The idea of it is to push you to the limit, so I probably won’t want to look at a rally car for about six months after this!”
The Roger Albert Clark Rally gets underway on Thursday, November 21 and runs until the afternoon of Monday, November 25.