Learners pictured with College rally carA talented group of automotive students from Preston’s College raced for a top spot in the Legend Fires North West Stages Rally in a car they manage, service and maintain as part of their course.

The two-day motorsport event in Blackpool, which is now in its 20th year, attracts hundreds of amateur rally crews hoping to tackle the gruelling 75-mile course that spans several venues across the Fylde coast.

Ten Level 2 students aged 16-18 and their tutor, Mark Atkinson (Motorsport Co-ordinator) joined rally driver and Programme Team Leader for Automotive Technologies at Preston’s College Mark Knight, as well as his co-driver Gary Hughes to form the College crew. Mark and Gary only recently got back behind the wheel after a ten-year break from rallying.

Mark Atkinson’s attention to detail and race vehicle setup played a big role in preparing the motorsports students and the rally car for the stages.

It’s the first year that the students took part in the event. Initially seeded at 78, the drivers and service crew brought the rally car home in 40th place out of 105 starters – taking the 4th spot overall in their class.

Automotive student, [Mason Walker], [17], [Preston], said: “It was an awesome day! We had to battle with the wind and rain making servicing tough, but we knew the car inside out. We can’t wait for the next race to get an even higher position.”Mark Knight said: “We’d tasked the students with recommissioning the rally car and bringing it back to a rally ready standard to compete and it was great seeing them put their knowledge and skills into practice in a real-work environment.

“Experiences like this give them the chance to showcase their creativity and professionalism against skilled teams from across the country. Everyone worked as a unit and nothing seemed to faze them over the two days, overcoming any unexpected hurdle that came their way. A great effort and performance for what was the College’s first every motorsport event and one to beat in next year’s race!”

The Legend Fires North West Stages Rally is now recognised as one of the biggest and toughest sealed surface races in England, with thousands of spectators turning out to watch the race that started at the Norbreck Castle Hotel and finished at the Marine Hall.

Preston’s College offers a range of automotive courses spanning Levels 1-3.