WHEN an octogenarian’s life is turned upside down, few would be surprised if he was to back off and be more cautious afterwards.

But when Bob Bean rolled his car on to its roof on a rough forest track, the 83-year old former works-supported rally driver was straight back in his 1960’s Lotus Cortina and keen to get to the next event as soon as the vehicle was repaired.

“I absolutely love the sport - I think it’s what helps keep me young and active,” states Cleckheaton farmer Bean, who has competed at everything up to international level over a period spanning an incredible seven decades and is currently preparing to do his home county’s biggest stage rally this weekend.

The Trackrod Rally Yorkshire is back as a round of the British Championship for the first time since 2013 and also features the UK’s other major stage rally championships - the BTRDA and British Historic series, where Bean has become a legend in his own lifetime, not just for longevity but for sheer pace.

Less than three weeks ago his ageing Ford won its class on the Three Shires Rally - a closed road event in the Welsh borders.

Yet the last time he entered the Trackrod, which takes place over the North York Moors forest stages, it all ended in disaster.

The rally begins on a Friday night along the sea-front in Filey and Bean recalled: “The first stage is a night stage in Dalby and I couldn’t hear a word my then co-driver Malcolm Smithson was saying.

“Before we restarted in the morning, we had a look at the intercom and decided it couldn’t be repaired then.

“So we decided to swap crash helmets but his head is bigger than mine.

“On a fast stretch in Cropton we made a note to go cautiously because they had done some logging and there were ruts across the track.

“But when we hit the first one, the helmet dropped down over my eyes and I couldn’t see a thing.

“We went down a ditch, hit a bank and came to rest upside down.”

The stage was stopped while the shaken crew were helped from the car, thankfully not seriously injured, although the damage brought a premature halt to their weekend’s entertainment.

Tonight, Bean, who competed all over the world in a works-backed Ford Escort Mexico during the seventies, and his current co-driver Colin Thompson, from Gomersal, line up alongside almost 40 other ‘historic’ vehicles, ranging from a gleaming Porsche 911S to a rare Volvo Amazon.

Brighouse’s Tony Shields, in a two-litre Escort, starts 20 cars ahead of Bean’s Cortina, while Bradford cousins Dave - the 2018 Northern Historic Champion - and Jamie Forrest, plus Wilsden/Crosshills duo Paul Rawson and Paul Wild, both crews also in varying Escorts, run in-between over the six all-gravel stages.

Further back down the running order will be high-spec four-wheel drive Ford Fiestas, VW Polos and a Proton Iris as front-runners Rhys Yates, Osian Pryce and Matt Edwards continue their seven-round battle for the British title, while the nation’s top clubman drivers also bid for points in the BTRDA series.

Keighley driver Kris Hopkins is among them in an eye-catching Triumph TR7.

Spectators are welcome (free) at today’s ceremonial start in Filey, from 6pm, and finish, also along the town’s Beach Road, tomorrow at 3pm, while special spectator areas have been set up in Dalby and Cropton forests, sign posted from the A170 Scarborough to Helmsley road.

Tickets must be obtained online via the Rallyyorkshire or TicketCo websites, https://rallyyorkshire.ticketco.events/uk/en/e/rally_yorkshire_2021, beforehand as, due to Covid guidelines, there will be no cash payments available at the entrances.