Saturday morning commuters and those people making an early visit to the supermarket were greeted by the site of a cavalcade of brightly coloured rally cars roaring out of Carlisle and heading for the Kielder Forest and the opening stage of the Pirelli International Rally, the opening round of both the British Rally Championship and the FUCHS Lubricants Motorsport UK British Historic Rally Championship.
It was the historic crews which led the field away and immediately there were problems for some crews with the Mitsubishi Galant of Tom Coughtrie/ Ian Fraser and the Chrysler Avenger of Keith Davison/ Henry Davison coming to a standstill almost within sight of the start line.
Meanwhile the opening stage saw series front runners Nick Elliott / Dave Price power into an early lead, narrowly ahead of Matt Robinson / Dave Robson with Joe Price / Chris Brooks completing the top three, all driving the ubiquitous Ford Escort. Indeed, you had to look right down to 19th place to find the first non-Ford crew, that being the big Triumph TR7 V8 of David Kynaston.
There was a promising start for New Zealand driver Derek Ayson, making his first ever visit to a British rally, he was 11th on the opening stage, a good result unfamiliar territory.