Brent-based rally driver Paul Smith overcame multiple malfunctions with his Volkswagen Polo in the Nicky Grist Stages Rally in Wales.
Smith had an early scare on the way to the first stage when he and his co-driver Darren Riley were low on fuel - a problem which wasn’t fully resolved until after the first service halt.
The problems didn't end there though, as the left-front wheel parted company with the hub after the fourth stage, while they had to run for half a mile in the dust and rocks thrown up by the car of a fellow competitor, and deal with a suspected engine-mount failure in the final stage, which caused the car to continually pop out of gear.
But the racer is delighted with the progress made - particularly in light of the technical difficulties on the day.
“Clearly today wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, but we have made significant progress with gaining confidence on gravel.
"At the end of my last event I was 13 minutes off of the class winner, but on this event I have more than halved that deficit. We are definitely moving in the right direction, and, perhaps without the mechanical dramas, we could have been even further up the field today.”
Smith, who competes in the highly popular Rally First 1.4 class, now lies 12th out of 23 drivers in the BTRDA Rally First Championship after his strong result against the odds.
The event, named after and supported by Colin McRae’s former co-driver, and which saw competitors tackle stages in the Monument, Crychan and Halfway Forest complexes near Builth Wells as well as the classic World Rally Championship stage – Route 60 – on the Epynt ranges, is a round of the country’s largest rally championship – the REIS Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series.
His next outing will be the Woodpecker Stages Rally, the 5th round of this year’s MSA English Rally Championship, on 5th September.