INTRODUCTION: More than 200,000 spectators watched the first five stages of this year's Lombard RAC car rally.
CHESTER, U.K. (VISNEWS - RORY MCLEOD)
GV Car No. 1 approaches camera. Henri Toiven of Finland in a Sunbeam Lotus
SV Car No. 2 Ari Vatenen, on dirt track in open country
SV Car. No. 6 Tony Pond in Chevette, fourth placed driver
SV Car No. 10 Michele Mouton, in Audi fifth placed driver
SV Car No. 13 Per Ekland of Sweden, in Toyota
GV Car No. 16 Jim McRae sixth placed driver
LV Car No. 17 Russell Brooks of the U.K. followed by No. 23, a Turbo Renault Five
GV Car No. 5 Hannu Mikkola, Audi Sport
GV Car No. 10 Michele Mounton again
SV Car No. 9 Jean Ragnotti Renault Sport Elf
SV Car No. 14 Stig Blomquist
SV Car No. 52 Pieter Geitel, Finland
SV Car No. 39 comes through arches at Whitton Castle in driving rain and murky conditions. Driver: Willy Rutherford
SV Arches again Car. No. 24 TR3 John Buffum USA
SV Car No. 41 Whitton Castle
SV Car No. 11 enters castle
GV Spectators and Castle, car arrives (2 shots)
Background: INTRODUCTION: More than 200,000 spectators watched the first five stages of this year's Lombard RAC car rally. The rally takes the drivers and their cars through some of the toughest country in England, Scotland and Wales. Conditions this year are being made more difficult by freezing temperatures and driving rain.
SYNOPSIS: Finnish driver, Henri Toiven, in his Sunbeam Lotus, was performing well in the north/east England leg. Later, a seized engine forced him from the race.
His Finnish colleague, Ari Vatemen, in a Ford Escort, moved into second place, with Britain's Tony Pond in his Vauxhall Chevette placed fourth at this stage.
Just behind was pretty French driver Michele Mounton in an Audi, the first woman to win a world championships rally. (Italian qualifying round in October).
When the rally passed through Trentham Gardens, it attracted a crowd of 40,000, causing a seven mile traffic jam.
Britain's Jim McRae in an Opel Asconda was well placed...and so was compatriot Russel Brooks in Car Number 17. He was being closely followed by a Turbo Renault Five.
Finland's Hannu Mikkola in Car Number 5, the Audi Sports, dominated the early party of the rally. His times were ten seconds faster than any of his rivals. Michele Mouton again.
The muddy conditions did not worry Jean Ragnotti in his Renault,...the Swede, Stig Blomquist, kept pace in a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus.
The weather was rapidly getting worse as Car Number 5, the Finnish team, approached Whitton Castle...
...By the time Willy Rutherford in a Escort drove through the Castle's arches heavy rain had seriously affected visibility.
A TR 8 driven by American, John Buffun.
Despite the appalling weather conditions, most of the drivers managed to maintain the speeds they had set earlier in the day. The rally traditionally attracts the most experienced touring car drivers in the world - experience that is soundly tested through the 1,700 mile (2,700 kilometres) route.
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