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Sam Bilham (GBR) Next Big Step Nissan MicraSherwood Forest is of course known worldwide as the home of folk hero Robin Hood, but last weekend the famous woodlands played host to the fifth round of the BTRDA National Rally Championship, the Rainworth Skoda Forest Rally where the talented Sam Bilham recorded sixth overall in the hotly contested Rally First category coupled with a one-litre class win.  The Bingley based rally star was the only entrant in the smaller RF1.0 category but punched well above his weight and battled with the more powerful 1400cc cars throughout the action-packed day.

Co-driven by Graham Wild, the 17 year old was behind the wheel of his usual Nissan Micra for the ten stage event which would take competitors through 43 competitive stage miles based around the Southwell Racecourse near Mansfield. Notorious for its uniquely soft and sandy surface, Bilham would need to develop an early learning strategy if he was to feel at home as this was the first time he had competed on the event.  But with heavy rain forecast for the day, mud not dust would be the only issue to worry about as Bilham would need a mature approach if he was to capitalise on his rivals absence from the championship. Securing a trouble free run in “The Next Big Step” backed Micra, Bilham added another maximum points score to his already healthy tally.

“The Rally First 1.0 category is my main aim this year and of course we knew that we only needed a finish to gain maximum points on this round” explains Bilham.  “But it was great to see we were putting in some stage times that were comparable with the higher powered 1400cc competitors which was encouraging. It’s a long season and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s only my fifth ever event on gravel.  I know I still have so much more to learn, but it’s encouraging to be so consistent on all the events this year and I can’t wait to get stuck into the Nicky Grist Stages next month”.

His solid result on the slippery Nottinghamshire stages means Bilham extends his lead in the RF1.0 class and closes in on a podium position in the Rally First category overall with forth position on the leader board.  He is now just nine points adrift of the leader in the Junior Driver title chase which is open to all drivers in the BTRDA National series, under 23 years of age.

The next round of the championship will take Bilham back into mid Wales in just four weeks’ time for the Nicky Grist Stages Rally on the 12th July where he will aim to further extend his lead in the popular one-litre Junior category.

For more information on Sam and his rallying career, visit

Image courtesy of Jakob Ebrey

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