A Barnsley businessman is taking the world of rally driving by storm after a 30 year break.
David White, owner of Whites Bakery, competed in his first rally event at the age of 17 but decided to give motorsport a break and concentrate on family life and building the business in his twenties.
David White behind the wheel of his Subaru Impreza
Now aged 49, he has returned to competitive driving and is already proving to be a contender.
Last year, his first season, he finished winner of the Motor Sport Association Asphalt National Rally Championship (N group cars) and 16th overall against all comers in the competition.
This year, after just two events, he is top of the leader board in the North of England Tarmacadem Championship.
At the Jack Frost Stages Rally in Darlington last month he was seeded fourth and, after finishing in the top three in several stages, finished sixth overall on the day.
David will next compete in the Legend Fires North West Stages Rally in Blackpool this weekend. (February 6 – 7).
David said: “Rally driving has always been my passion and it feels great to be back behind the wheel and competing. The time is right for me to return to the sport now and after a really satisfying first season, I’m really pleased to kick off this year leading the North of England Championship.
“It is funny being the new boy on the scene at my age but I’ve got all the enthusiasm and competitive drive I had at 17 and seem to be holding my own against drivers of all ages.”
David’s passion for rallying is now shared by his son Mathew, aged 21, who is his co-driver and navigator. The father and son team drive a Prodrive two-litre Subaru Impreza Grp N12.
David and Mathew plan to compete in more than 12 events in 2015 including the Manx National Rally on the Isle of Mann; the Mewla rally in Wales; the ALMC Stages Rally in County Meath, Ireland and the Chevoit Keith Knox Rally at Otterburn in Northumberland. They will also compete in Europe at the Monteberg Rallysprint event in Brussels in April.
David said: “Rallying has always been a family thing for us. I went to watch my first rally in Penistone when I was 12-years-old and was hooked from the start. As soon as I passed my driving test I joined Rotherham Motor Club and drove a MK2 Escort in my first rally event at Cadwell Park, North Lincolnshire, in 1982.
“We were on a tight budget so couldn’t afford decent tyres or anything so never did much in those early years. To get a better drive for a while, we hired cars – a better MK2 Escort, a 2.0 litre Vauxhall Astra and then a Lada Riva that drove and handled very much like an Escort but was built like a tank.
“I loved it, but then family came along and I concentrated on them and the business.”
David is managing director of Whites Bakery, based at Worsborough Bridge in Barnsley. Established by his grandparents in 1934, Whites now has a £2.6 million turnover and employs 56 people. It supplies bread, cakes and biscuits to schools, supermarkets and sandwich shops and as well its own four South Yorkshire shops.
David’s rally team, Two 4 Motorsport, is sponsored by South Yorkshire companies F&G Commercials (DAF) of Barnsley and Mirage Electronic Cigarettes of Sheffield, plus Method Race Wheels and VP Race Fuels.
David said: “We’ve got a great team and are looking forward to a great year. My ambition is to keep getting better times and placings and move up to the UK’s premier rallying competition, the British Rally Championship, in 2016.”
Many world class rally drivers such as Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist and Colin McRae have competed in the British Rally Championship.
David plans to invest in a higher spec rally car to take his competing to this level and is seeking new sponsors to achieve that aim.
“Rally driving has a massive following and growing TV and media coverage. It’s exciting to watch as well as compete.There is nothing like the thrill of flying through the air over the blind crests at Otterburn or driving along between cliff face and the sea on the Isle of Mull.”
Rallying involves drivers and navigators in saloon cars racing for best times over a number of stages. They drive on public roads and dedicated circuits which they must navigate using coded directions called pace notes. The winner is the car with the fastest time over all the stages. Events start with the cars being exhibited and scrutinised for safety.