WELSHMAN John Leckie lived up to his number one seeding with a well-earned victory on the Clitheronian Rally.

Leckie, from Rhyl, and navigator Nick Bloxham dropped just 42 seconds over the entire night's route with a near-faultless run.

Making it a Proton 1-2 was Tony Harrison and Paul Taylor, who finished two minutes and 42 seconds adrift.

Third place went to Mini men Pete Tyson and Neil Harrison, from Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club.

Organisers Clitheroe and district Motor Club, led by the highly-experienced Paul Buckel, laid on a demanding route which started and finished at the M65 Blackburn with Darwen Services.

The 30-strong field of top road rally crews faced a short run-out to Garstang for 160-miles of 'plot and bash' navigation, split into two sections over the night.

Buckel and his team incorporated some of the most popular and well-known rally routes in Lancashire. First up was Abbeysteads followed by the Trough of Bowland road down to Slaidburn, then up Lythe Fell before the petrol halt at Bentham.

From there, crews tackled Gunnerthwaite, Tatham Fells, Haylots before the run down to the finish on Longridge Fell.

One of the drives of the night came from Steve Entwistle and Bob Hargreaves who brought their ex-Roy Mapple 'Orangebox'

Mini home in fifth place, ahead of much more powerful machinery.

An acknowledged expert on the Trough, Entwistle produced a blistering run over the moorland road, although navigator Hargreaves was visibly relieved to reach the end of the section in one piece.

The pair were a brilliant fourth overall at petrol, but were pipped by just nine seconds on the final sections when a combination of just 998cc under the bonnet and the uphill roads conspired to slow their progress.

"We had a near perfect night, with just one overshoot. It was an excellent, well-run rally, and the car didn't miss a beat," said Entwistle, who lives in Rishton.

The result also netted Entwistle and Hargreaves maximum points in their chase for the ANWCC Historic Road Rally Championship. They are lying second overall with just one round, next month's Illuminations Rally, to go.

But for two other crews, the night was less fortunate.

Tipped as potential winners, former Memorial Road Rally winners Myles Gleave and Jason Crook, from Blackburn, went out within the first five miles when their Peugeot 205 spun and hit a bank. The resulting damage to the steering put the pair out on the spot.

And second-seeds Steve Retchless and Sam Collis retired their Ford Escort with engine failure.

Said Collis: "I was gutted to have my first retirement with Steve, but what a fantastic event. It was a great format, the route couldn't have been better, and the marshals were friendly. What else does anyone want from a road rally?"

Other notable results included Accrington's Simon Boardman and Alan Barnes, who brought their Mitsubishi Colt home in 11th place, while Pete Jagger, from Colne, and David Taylor claimed 15th in their Peugeot 205.

Clitheroe DMC pair James Hothersall and Chris Rydeheard won the novice class in their Peugeot 205.

"On behalf of the organising team, I'd like to say a big thanks to all the marshals who braved a very cold night," said Buckel.

"Without them, we couldn't put on an event. To everyone else, thanks for taking part, and we hope to see you all again next year!"