WHEN Nigel Worswick starts this weekend’s Neil Howard Stages, it will mark the return of rallying to Oulton Park after almost 20 years.

The popular Blackburn driver is seeded at car one in his Ford Escort WRC, ahead of a huge 100-car entry.

And it will be the first time rally cars have used the picturesque Cheshire track since the RAC Rally visited in 1993.

“Bolton-Le-Moors Car Club can’t wait to host the event, there is a real buzz around the community for rallying’s return,” said organiser Darren Spann.

“The venue offers facilities far in excess of those normally associated with this type of event and will be an ideal opportunity for spectators to bring along the whole family.

“And it’s a mark of the venue’s popularity at how quickly we filled our entry – we received over 100 applications within five days, including eight World Rally Cars, and we are still receiving them by the day.”

The Neil Howard Stages dates back to the late 1970s, when it was known as The Clubman’s Rally.

Originally a road rally on the lanes of Lancashire, it soon changed to a stage rally.

By 1985 the event utilised a single venue format and is now the Bolton-le-Moors’ premier event and attracts competitors from all over the country.

The event’s title was changed after Neil Howard, then Secretary of the Clubman’s Rally when it was held at Aintree, passed away. A trophy in his name was then presented to the organisers by his parents.

A total of eight stages will cover 53 miles, with the first four in the traditional clockwise circuit direction then the afternoon four will be in the opposite direction.

The event will run from 9am to 5pm, ending in darkness.

Among the strong entry list an eclectic range of cars, from rally specials such as the Subaru Impreza to classics like the 70s rear-wheel drive Ford Escort and Talbot Sunbeam, while a Group B Metro 6R4 will undoubtedly be a crowd favourite.

Tickets for the Neil Howard Stage Rally at Oulton Park on Saturday are available in advance from £10, with free entry for children aged 12 and under.

For details call 0843 453 9000 or visit www.oultonpark.co.uk.