It’s not often that you’re slapping on the sunscreen for an English stage rally in April. And while it may be cheesy to suggest celestial powers were smiling down on the recent Corbeau Seats Rally, it was hard to believe the sun was a mere coincidence.

That’s because the Corbeau Seats Rally on Sunday 19 April wasn’t just another stage rally; it was the first closed-road rally in England — a landmark moment for motorsport on these shores.

In April 2017, the Government passed legislation permitting closed-road motorsport. And, 12 months later, following a herculean effort by Chelmsford Motor Club, rallying took over Clacton-on-Sea.

The event wasn’t the first closed-road rally in the UK; Scotland has enjoyed the privilege for years. But bringing such events to England is the result of more than eight years of work by the Motor Sports Association (MSA), the UK’s governing body. Similar legislation has now been passed in Wales.

Entries for the groundbreaking event came in quickly and I was thrilled to be one of the lucky competitors, co-driving for James Newbould in the 1.8-litre Vauxhall Corsa that took us to the finish of Wales Rally GB and the Mull Rally. Now we were faced with 15 stages, snaking through the lanes of my home county.