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SamBihamPR14_10After securing the BTRDA RallyFirst one-litre title at last month’s Woodpecker Rally, MSA Academy member Sam Bilham could be forgiven for relaxing for the rest of the year. But the 17 year old rally star from Bingley headed down to Suffolk last weekend in a bid to take the lead of the 2014 Formula 1000 senior tarmac championship in his Next Big Step Nissan Micra. Tackling the Woodbridge Stages on the East Anglian coast, Bilham took a convincing second in class and 32nd overall against much more powerful machinery.

The Yorkshire ace has made a convincing return to asphalt recently after spending much of the year in the forests whilst contesting the BTRDA National Gravel series. Having one eye on the F1000 title too, Bilham contested round six of the championship and would head home on Sunday evening with another maximum score to add to the points table. The sealed surface event would see the return of Gareth Hooper to the co-driver’s seat and the re-united duo were pleased with their trouble free run and convincing result.  “That was really one of my better events and I’m pleased with how I drove today” said Bilham.  “Everything seemed to gel together and I felt very comfortable in the car. That was reflected in the stage times and to be second in class was a great achievement seeing as we only have a one-litre engine.  Aside from some brake fade towards the event of the event, it was a really enjoyable day so the result should take us to the top of the standings”.

But there would be too much time to celebrate as next weekend Bilham will return to the BTRDA series and tackle his home event, Trackrod Rally Yorkshire. Having watched the event for years as an avid spectator, he will finally contest the event he has always wanted to compete in as a young boy. “It’s fantastic to think after all these years I finally get to compete in the forests I pretty much grew up in” he says. “Dalby and Langdale are some of the quickest in the country and I can’t wait to rally with a home crowd. It’s the penultimate round of the championship and I’m looking forward to this one more than any other”

But there will be a small distraction for the youngster as usual co-driver Graham Wild is unavailable and father Tony will step into the breach to assist Sam in his multiple title chase. “I have to confess I’m a little rusty but I’ve worked in these forests for years so my local knowledge should make up for that” says Tony.  “Sam’s ability and has pace is really impressive, especially in such a small car so I will have to keep on my toes and hopefully he can learn to trust me before too long.”

A solid result in Yorkshire will be high on the agenda for the father and son pairing as Sam is aiming to add further titles to his already impressive portfolio.  Not content with his RF1.0 title in his inaugural year of loose surface rallying, Sam will head to the Pickering rally base on Saturday to chase down the Rally First and Junior driver overall accolades too.

Trackrod Rally Yorkshire takes place on Saturday 27th September and offers over 42 competitive stage miles in the Dalby forest complex near Pickering. The “Bilham’s” are seeded at car 223 for the event.

For more information on Sam and his rallying career, visit http://www.sambilham.co.uk

Image courtesy of MCR Marketing Solutions

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