Darren Atkinson scored a remarkable trophy hat-trick in this year’s Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship, finishing a magnificent third overall and winning the class B13 and Ford Escort Challenge titles.
Even for a man who has an incredible record of success in the series, the Haldane Fisher Escort Mk2 driver’s achievements in 2023 have even surpassed his own previous amazing records.
The Lancaster ace is no stranger to giant-killing performances. Against strong four-wheel drive opposition, Darren regularly finishes in the top six overall registered contenders; his third on Rally van Wervik in his debut Protyre Asphalt season in 2019 the highlight in a list of impressive stats.
This year was one of Darren’s best seasons ever, as he scored five top six Protyre Asphalt finishes to not only score his highest ever finishing position in the overall drivers’ standings but also win the class B13 title for the third time and the Ford Escort Challenge title for the second time in a row.
Finishing third overall this year (behind champion Callum Black and runner-up Neil Roskell, both driving Ford Fiesta Rally2s) came at a poignant time – just a few months after the death of Motoring News Road Rally Championship legend and fellow Morecambe Car Club member Dennis Quinn, who had done a lot of work of Darren’s car and had been instrumental in his motorsport career.
Having been co-driven to most of his successes by Phil Sandham, Darren was partnered for the first time by Matt Daniels on Rali Ceredigion – an event that he wasn’t even planning on doing and one in which he had a very restricted recce, which included one pass over most of the stages and no pass over one stage at all.
Yet Darren completed this year’s Protyre Asphalt Championship in style on the final double header round, finishing in the top six overall and winning class B13 both times.
“I’ve always said ‘never give up and keep going’ because the results will only come if you’re there at the end,” says Darren.
“I wasn’t planning on doing Rali Ceredigion, but I looked at the points and thought that I might be in with a chance of a top three overall finish, and we did it.”