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MORE than 6,000 thrillseekers descended upon Tendring for a trailblazing motor rally.

Organisers behind the Corbeau Seats race said there was "a big buzz in the air" for the first-of-its-kind race on Sunday.

The event, organised by Chelmsford Motor Club, allowed road legal cars to compete at five special stages across the district.

It is the first rally to make use of a new legislation which allows closed road motorsport in England.

The rally was won by Melvyn Evans and Sean Hayde in their Subaru Impreza.

They beat second place Hugh Hunter and Rob Fagg by just 12.5 seconds following fifteen stages.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • The rally was won by Melvyn Evans and Sean Hayde in their Subaru Impreza S12B.

Mr Evans said “This has been a brilliant day and to win the first closed road event in England was very special for us.

“The spectators were amazing and with the event running like clockwork the organisers did an incredible job.

"Let’s hope this is the start of a new era for rallying”.

Organisers said Clacton was buzzing with people excited to see the rally cars.

They lined the spectator barriers and also made a big impression with the event competitors.  

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • Rally cars lined up in Clacton

A spokesman said crews of all levels have been amazed and appreciative at the number of people out on the road sections that link the stages.

He said: "They’ve been seeing families out with their deckchairs and picnics, enthusiastically waving to them as they head for the stages.

"The rally is a real first for Tendring as this is the very first closed road event in England using the new legislation to facilitate such events.

"The rally crews have really enjoyed the stages, which mix tight technical sections and fast sweeping bends." 

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • A car passes the spectator area in Bradfield

"Competitors and the public have commented on the excellent organisation that has gone into the event from Chelmsford Motor Club and the huge number of officials, marshals and other volunteers supporting the event.

"At the spectator areas there have been huge crowds enjoying the sight and sounds of the rally cars travelling at competitive speeds, with early estimates from Tendring Council suggesting there are at least 6,000 people following the rally in Clacton and around the rally route."

The race consisted of three loops of five different stages totalling about 45 stage miles and 100 road link miles.

The stages included Tendring Green to Stones Green, Bradfield, Lawford to Little Bromley, Great Bromley and Great Bentley.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • Crowds watch on as cars pass Bradfield

The event is being staged in Clacton, on Marine Parade East, where drivers started before making their way to the special routes.

Tony Clements, event director, said 106 entrants took part and that he was “delighted” with the welcome the rally has received.

He said: “It has been great to see all of the competitors, officials, spectators and passing members of the public really enjoying and engaging with the rally.

“The feedback I’ve had from the competitors is that they are overwhelmed with the hundreds of people, including families with their deckchairs and picnics, lining the open road sections between the stages to watch the cars as they drive past.

"It shows great support for the event.”

He added: “Putting this event on has been a huge effort, over several years, culminating with the rally on Sunday. 

“My team’s been helped by a huge team of volunteers and the wider motor sport community, to whom I say the very biggest and most heartfelt thank you.”

He added that an army of 500 marshals volunteered to ensure the event passed off safely.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • There are five stages across Tendring

Residents got the chance to see cars up close at the service area in Clacton, but could also view the rally from spectator areas in Bradfield and Great Bentley.

Dean Alabastor, from Clacton, turned out to see the cars in Clacton with his son Oscar, three.

He said: “We had a great day and Oscar really enjoyed seeing the cars. It brought a lot of people to Clacton.

“It’s a real privilege for us to host the first ever event like this - I hope it comes back again.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • Crowds look on in Bradfield

Andrew Morgan, from Marine Parade West, Clacton, which was closed for the event, said it had been “absolutely brilliant”.

He said: “The organisers, mechanics, everyone has been friendly, explaining what is going on.

"The pubs and cafes were full on a weekend they would not usually be. It is all money – thousands of pounds – going into the community.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • The service area was set up on Clacton seafront

The seafront area was busy during scheduled breaks on Sunday between 11.35am and 1.15pm and from 3.25pm to 5.45pm.

The cars also returned to Clacton for the finish, where the winner was announced.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • Excitement - spectators turned out to see the cars up close in Clacton

Mick Skeels, Tendring Council’s cabinet member for leisure and tourism, lifted the flag on the rally.

He said: “Rally fans came from far and wide to Tendring especially for this event and we know anecdotally that hotel rooms were extremely hard to come by.

“Other businesses have also benefited – such as tyre and fuel supply firms in Clacton and Harwich who have been selling to competitors throughout the weekend.

“Helped by the brilliant weather, the whole rally is a wonderful advert for Tendring."

He added that despite concerns before the rally from a number of residents that Chelmsford Motor Club’s professionalism has alleviated many people’s fears over safety.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • Mick Skeels, Tendring Council’s cabinet member for leisure and tourism, lifted the flag on the rally

Navigator Simon Howlett, based in Lavenham, Suffolk, who guides his brother Ben, said the event had been really well-organised.

“The route and countryside is great, a good mixture of roads, and it has run like clockwork,” he added.

“It has been fantastic to support. We have been doing this since 1985, averaging five or six a year, and we do a lot of similar events in Belgium, France and Germany – it is a lot nicer doing this just 30 miles down the road.”

For further details, go to corbeauseatsrally.co.uk.