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Sam Bilham (GBR) Next Big Step Nissan MicraRising junior rally star Sam Bilham will look to ensure he maintains his slender lead in the BTRDA National Gravel Rally First series this weekend as he makes the trip to the famous forest complex of Sherwood which plays host to the fifth round of the championship, the Rainworth Skoda Forest Rally.  The 17 year old from Bingley in West Yorkshire will once again pilot his Nissan Micra in the Rally First one-litre category and Junior series where he will aim to capitalise on his strong points haul from each event he has contested so far this season.

“The Next Big Step” award winner will be co-driven by the experienced Graham Wild who, unlike Sam has previous experience of the unique gravel roads which make up the 42 competitive miles in Robin Hood’s home territory.  The sandy surface in the Nottinghamshire forests are a marked difference from last month’s Welsh forest event The Plains Rally where Bilham secured a comfortable podium position. Therefore he is under no illusion that a cautious approach may be the best course of action this weekend.

He says “Just when I was getting used to driving on normal gravel, I have to start all over again on this event.  It really is like no other event in the UK and so it will take me several stages to get used to how the car handles in the soft sandy surface.” But it’s not just the road structure Bilham will need to acclimatise to. “I’ve been doing some research online and the stages are incredibly fast so I`ll need to ensure my confidence levels are up from the very first stage on Saturday morning.” he says.  “It will be tricky to find a comfortable pace that I’m happy with so we will take each stage as it comes and see how we get on. The stages will certainly be rougher on the second pass so it will be important to set some good times on the first use of the stages in the morning”.

The event is centred around its Southwell Racecourse base and some 130 competitors will head into the Nottinghamshire forests on Saturday 7th June to tackle over 40 competitive stage miles. The lucky finishers will spray the champagne at the podium finish in Southwell later that day.

Sam is supported by The Next Big Step award.
For more information on Sam and his rallying career, visit sambilhammotorsport.webs.com
Image courtesy of Jakob Ebrey

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