MOTOR SPORT: IT'S a message in a bottle. A unique trophy which relates to outstanding achievement in national hill rallying. The Landcraft Trophy has been won only twice in the last eight years and, remarkably, Runcorn has claimed it both times.
It is a prize in the British Hill Rally - stage rallying, exclusively for 4x4s in which the final round of four has just taken place in North Wales.
And driver Phil Kelly followed in the tyre tracks of his fellow townsman Simon Carman by landing the esteemed award, which recognises a top-20 finish in a Class 'A' - or standard - vehicle.
Simon achieved the feat in 1996 and Phil is the first to do so since.
Phil, a 34-year-old vehicle recovery technician from Sutton Weaver, has been steered to success by Alan Mercer, his boss at vehicle repair specialists Grangeside.
Alan is not only Phil's employer but also co-driver, and the Weston-based company sponsors and prepares the 2,500cc Landrover Tdi (turbo diesel injection).
The last event in the 2003 British Hill Rally series covered 223 miles, including 99 miles of special stages across Moorland at Llandegla, the Moel-y-Farn slate quarries and forest stages at Clocaenog.
Speeds of more than 130mph were reached, on some of the forest gravel sections, by Prototype Class 'H' vehicles of 5,000cc.
Phil and Alan won Class 'A' by six minutes, diesel class and finished 18th overall to lift the Landcraft Trophy, last won in 1996 by Simon Carman, who was also supported by Grangeside.
Alan, 50, said: 'Simon and his father Harold are well-respected in 4x4 world, winning many trophies in British off-road events.
'Phil pays tribute to the help and encouragement Harold and Simon have given him in the four years he has been a competitor.'
Alan, of Weston Road, added: 'Eighteenth out of 47 to some people may not look impressive. But it equals, in footballing terms, teams like Runcorn FC being in the fifth round of the FA Cup with the likes of Liverpool or Manchester United.
'The overall British Hill Rally champion last year, when Phil won Class 'C', was an Australian film director who just flies into events and drives.
'So that shows what we are up against.' Grangeside have been in the motorsport business since the 1970s. They helped motorcyle ace Kevin Riley, who won the 500cc Manx Grand Prix, plus sidecar racers Neville Riley - Kevin's brother - and Graham Hilditch. All still live in or around Runcorn.
Grangeside were also involved in the 1990s through national-standard car rally driver Paul Histon, who is also from the town.
After three decades, Grangeside are as determined as ever to evolve and improve.
Alan said: 'The 200 Tdi race-prepared engine is regarded as the quickest around. Diesels were viewed as uncompetitive four years ago. Many have now copied us but have not quite got them as quick. We have got to move on as Phil has got faster with experience.
'We cannot get any more power out of the 200 engine so the development of the V6 Hdi diesel engine is the winter project for the Grangeside team.
'A top-10 place is next season's aim. Like car stage rallying, money plays a big part with some backers spending £80,000 on equipment while we run on a limited budget.'
However, Alan adds: 'The thrill of seeing our standard-type motor splitting the prototype and specials at stage starts, and upsetting the big spenders, makes it all worthwhile.'