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Swift-01Darlington rally driver Paul Swift continued his great 2013 form into this weekend’s Jim Clark National Rally whereby, despite some problems, he came away with a superb 12th place overall to record his best result in four years on the event.

Partnered once again by Barnard Castle co-driver Giles Dykes in the Smith and Allan Oils-sponsored 2.4 litre Millington Ford Escort Mk2 with additional backing from PSI Global.co.uk, the seven times British Autotest champion and defending AS Performance North of England Tarmac Rally and Fuchs Titan Race ANCC Stage Rally Tarmac Champion followed up his recent good result on the Manx National Rally to bolster his championship placing in the REIS Get Connected MSA Asphalt Rally Championship with his latest result on the closed public roads of the Scottish Borders.

Friday night’s trio of stages saw Swift in confident mood whereby he made a steady start but dropped 30 seconds when held up by another competitor meaning he was re-seeded on Saturday morning further down the order than he had hoped for.

Undeterred and despite the cancellation of a couple of stages due to lack of marshals, Swift set about improving his 30th position overnight but early on, he suffered a heavy landing on one of the jumps which subsequently broke the gearbox mountings. The result meant the team had to strap the unit in place with nylon straps for the remainder of the event and prevented Paul from pushing too hard as he needed to preserve the car.

Despite the handicap, Swift pressed on and with a superb top ten placing on the Ayton stage, he was up inside the top 20 at half way and the charge continued through the remaining stages to hold 14th place going into the final stage. One final push on a new set of Pirelli tyres saw the pair claim another top 12 place and with it, 12th overall and sixth in class at the end of another gruelling event.

Paul commented: “That’s my best result on the Jim Clark Rally in the four years I’ve contested it so I’m delighted with our performance. We got stuck behind another car which was frustrating on Friday night and then we had the problem after breaking the gearbox mountings so I had to back off on the jumps which lost us a lot of time. We also had some fuel surge problems due to the re-fuelling arrangements which saw us nearly out of petrol at one time but we made it. Giles and I are really gelling on the pacenotes now and we are finding much more time so a big thanks to him. Also, thanks to the brand new set of Pirelli tyres we fitted prior to the last stage; they worked wonders and allowed us to climb two places which is important in our championship class, especially as we played our joker to gain double points.”

Paul now faces a dilemma as the next round of the series takes place in Ireland with the ALMS Stages near Dublin but needs to procure the necessary budget to make the trip and maintain his championship challenge. However, if that’s not possible, he intends to contest the Turnbull Trophy Rally in Northumberland instead that same weekend on July 7th.

Paul would like to thank his sponsors and partners for their help in 2013.

Picture (courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography): Paul Swift and Giles Dykes flying high on the Jim Clark National Rally.

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