COMPETITORS from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales contested four stages that made up 40 timed miles as special stage rallying returned to the South Lakes with Furness and District Motor Club’s Hippo Motor Group Grizedale Stages Rally.

The schedule comprised of a pair of 17 mile tests through Grizedale Forest with two shorter runs at Dunnerdale Forest in between.

By the end of the day it was Irish eyes who were smiling as victory went to Josh Moffett and Keith Moriarty in a Ford Focus R5.

Durham duo Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson finished as runners up in a Ford Fiesta WRC while Scots crew John Wink and John Forrest completed the podium in a Hyundai i20 R5.

It was a day of mixed fortunes for Cumbrian contestants, with Penrith pairing Mark Shaw and James Coxon taking top honours in Class Two, bringing their Talbot Sunbeam Ti home 14th overall after surviving a first stage excursion into a ditch.

Caroline Lodge picked up two awards. The former Kirkby-in-Furness resident took the prize for first female contestant together with the Class Two runners-up award after finishing 16th overall as co-driver to Carlisle’s Barry Lindsay in his Peugeot 206. Marcus and Helen Noble, from Penrith, finished third in Class Three in their Ford Escort Mk2.

Windermere’s Gary Tomlinson and Andy Murphy had been on target for a top ten finish until a last stage incident saw them drop close to 30 minutes when their Subaru Impreza spun, stalled and was reluctant to re-start – putting them 48th.

Finishing just one place behind was the Volkswagen Polo of David Barr from Hawkshead and Kendal co-driver Neil Mitchell Hunter. Three minutes’ worth of time-penalties denied them a Class One prize in only their second ever rally.

Millom’s Chris Williams fulfilled a long-time ambition of competing in a Ford Escort Cosworth, as co-driver to Dubliner Paul McCann, but their day was blighted by an electrical problem that put the car down on power – and then things went from bad to worse on the road section when the clutch failed.

Ambleside exile Graham Gaskell wheeled out his new Subaru Impreza together with Dave Gibson, and finished 32nd overall, while a private battle between two Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club Ford Escort Mk2 pilots was won by Bryan Gibson, who finished 37th together with co-driver Katy Mashiter as Ashley Hodge and Steve Pugh finished in 54th.