The manager of an iconic Lake District rally has spoken of the challenges of keeping the event going after it was saved from extinction by a new sponsor.

Graham Parker, manager of the Grizedale Stages Rally, was forced to call off the popular motorsports event in December 2021 at the last minute due to extensive damage to the course, caused by Storm Arwen, which rendered parts of the track unsafe.

Attempts to reschedule were scuppered for financial reasons, as Graham explained: 

"We could pay all our debts, that wasn't the problem, but because we have to spend so much in the planning stage, we didn't have anything left in the bank so that, if the same thing happened next year, if there was a storm or snow two weeks before the rally, we'd be in a very difficult spot because there'd be nobody to pick up the tab. 

"We didn't want to drop the rally because people seem to love it, but if we couldn't come up with an alternative solution, then there is a good chance that that would have been the end of the rally permanently.

The Westmorland Gazette: CONFIRMED: The event will go ahead in 2022. Credit Chris West, Grizedale Stages Rally 2016CONFIRMED: The event will go ahead in 2022. Credit Chris West, Grizedale Stages Rally 2016

"We're all volunteers, and it's one thing doing it for free, but persuading people to pay to work on it on it would be harder!"

Graham was delighted when Coniston businessman and former sponsor Phil Johnston stepped in with an offer to once again sponsor the rally, which this year will be named The Coppermines Grizedale Stages Rally 2022:

"I was just exploring options financially by asking Phil if he could help us with some accommodation and he said he'd missed being a sponsor, and taking his guests up to the rally, and he came up with an offer that was brilliant for us.

"I think Phil sees that motorsport can bring benefits to an area - the National Park doesn't dislike motorsports - it's high impact but it's only over a short period of a day and a half, so the amount of money and interest generated in the area make it worth it.

"We get 3 or 4,000 people each year watching the rally. 

"Even people who aren't really interested in rallying see something going in the forest and come up to have a look - at our rally, they get to see the cars drive past twice, and we're very open about where spectators can go or where they can't go, so it's nice and easy for people."

Read more about the rescue of the Grizedale Stages Rally here.