Rallying: Pathfinder and pioneer Clark dies aged 58

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The Independent Online
Roger Clark, the former British rally champion, has died following a stroke at the age of 58.

Clark, who transformed rally driving in Britain in the way Stirling Moss had done in motor racing, won the RAC Rally in 1972 and 1976 and won the British championship four times.

Clark set a standard for British drivers that was not equalled until Colin McRae won a world title two years ago. He retired in 1980 but continued to race occasionally, including two appearances in the 1995 Rally of Wales. He had been troubled by ill health in recent years and died on Monday night in a hospital in his native Leicestershire.

Tony Mason, Clark's co-driver when he won the first of his two RAC Rallies in 1972, rated him a "genuine world-beater."

Mason believes that Clark's success over the near-invincible Scandinavians back in the 70s, laid the foundations for later British successes - most notably those of Colin McRae.

"It must be remembered that Roger Clark did change the face of British rallying. He was the first British driver to conquer the all-dominating Scandinavians," Mason said.

"You only get a genuine British world-beater in any sport maybe once a decade, and he was one.

"Until Colin McRae came along, there really was no one to touch Roger, and Colin has now taken over his mantle."

"He became a very close friend and has remained so for the past 25 years. I am very sad to lose him and will miss him very much."

The RAC British Rally Championship manager, John Horton, is another who feels privileged to have worked with Clark, particularly when he was tyre engineer for him during his second RAC Rally triumph in 1976.

"He was always a professional on the stages and he was fantastic company when it came to the social side of the sport," Horton said. He would never forget all the people who helped him to his success and always had time for you. He was also a great source of inspiration to the young drivers coming up."