AN amateur rally driver has ended a fairytale season to become champion in the North of England Tarmacadam Rally Championship 2017.

Rob Snowden, 37, who lives in Rillington, works as a self-employed clockmaker in Kirkbymoorside.

He built and rallies his own Ford Mk2 Escort rally car, and decided this year to enter the 10-race championships - his first major competition - despite being up against bigger and more experienced teams.

The season had a number of ups and downs, with mechanical problems ending several races and Mr Snowden’s original navigator, Tommy Rogers, of Specialist Cars in Malton, emigrating to Australia.

Two temporary navigators - Dan Mennell and Mark Fisher - stepped in to help in two races at Edinburgh and Crail, but mechanical gremlins resurfaced and Mr Snowden had to retire from each. “The battle was then on in the championship as we became desperate to finish events and score vital points,” he said.

“That’s when Andy Brown from Durham stepped in and with a lot of work to provide reliability with the car, the finishes, results and points started coming.”

It was a close call for the drivers’ title, with the nearest challenger being Stevie Irwin, from Darlington.

The championship finished at the end of last month with the Cheviot stages held on the Otterburn military ranges, with 14 demanding stages. Mr Snowden was well-placed going into it.

“We decided to take a very cautious approach and simply drive to ensure the finish,” Mr Snowden said.

This proved to be just enough to win the drivers’ championship title, and also the navigators’ title for Mr Brown.

Plans are now underway for the 2018 season and discussions are being held with possible sponsors.

“Without the help and support from Ian Brown Tyres of Malton, Willians Logistics & RAS International, this achievement would not have been possible,” Mr Snowden said.

“Also thanks must go to Dan Mennell who has helped with the maintenance of the car and has attended every event to provide mechanical support.”