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Darlington precision driver Paul Swift returned to competitive action for the first time in a year whereby he celebrated with a superb class win on yesterday’s Swift Signs Christmas Stages Rally held at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire.croftxmas-ps-8438

With one of the biggest crowds ever seen at Northallerton AC’s annual festive event and despite the cool and icy conditions, Swift and wife-to-be co driver Jessica Bell overcame the treacherous early morning black ice and a technical glitch during the day to bring the newly-built Millington-engined PSI Global, Smiths & Allen and Smart IFA–backed Ford Escort Mk2 home in seventh overall.

With the JBM team only finishing the car the night before the event, it was a race against time to ensure the seven time British Champion and a multiple Guinness World Record holder was on the line but once there, tyre choice was a lottery for the leading crews with a hard overnight frost ensuring most of the track was covered in ice.

Swift opted for the cautious approach on the opening test rather than destroying the car after a year of hard work in building and emerged in 44th place. However, with the sun starting to thaw the track out, Swift upped the pace on SS2 to set eighth fastest time to place him 16th overall after the first loop.

With the excellent Pirelli wets now the order of the day, yet still with the odd patch of ice in the shade, Swift continued his fight back on the next two stages to end up in fifth overall with the class lead in hand.

Paul_Swift-Croft-Xmas-Stages-2014Into the afternoon stages, Swift was hoping to increase his pace but a delay in getting SS5 started resulted in the car overheating slightly. Whereas Paul was expecting the fan to kick in when it reached a certain temperature as in the past with his previous cars, the new configuration to do with the thermostat controls meant it needed to be done manually and the result was the car encountered a severe misfire which dropped him time and down to seventh overall going into the final two tests.

With the temperatures again plummeting as darkness started to fall, a big push by the County Durham pairing saw them set eighth fastest time on SS7 before saving their best until the final stage in total darkness with fifth fastest time to claim seventh overall and first two-wheel drive car home, as well as the Class 4 win by a minute and 47 seconds.

Paul Swift: “All things considered, seventh overall and a class win is a fantastic achievement especially given we didn’t finish the car until the night before. The ice made things interesting early on but the plan was always to bring the car home safely so I was determined not to do anything silly. The overheating problem was just one of those things and was typical of the little teething problems we were expecting whereby we now know what caused it. Thereafter it was just a case of being quick and safe which is what we did and ended up with a decent result. Thanks to my JBM team who have done a wonderful job in getting the car built and ready and to all our sponsors. Thanks of course to the organisers and marshals who endured a freezing cold day.”

Paul will next be in action on the Darlington & District Motor Club-organised Autogas/Cartersport Jack Frost Stages Rally on Sunday 18th January 2015 which also takes place at Croft Circuit prior to embarking on a national tour of Top Gear Live, which includes the Newcastle Metro Arena in February.

Further information can be found at http://www.paulswift.com/motorsport or via http://www.croftcircuit.co.uk. Details about the rallies can be found at http://www.northallerton-ac.co.uk and http://www.darlington-motor-club.org.uk.

Swift Signs Christmas Stages Rally Results
1, Kevin Procter/Dave Bellerby – Subaru WRC – 52.18
2, David White/Mathew White – Subaru Impreza – 53.59
3, Peter Smith/Patrick Walsh – MG Metro 6R4 – 54.28
4, Graham Coffey/Andrew Roughead – Ford Fiesta WRC – 54.50
5, Chris Wise/Tracey Taylor-West – MG Metro 6R4 – 54.50
6, Oliver Mellors/Reg Smith – Proton Satria Neo – 54.53
7, Paul Swift/Jessica Bell – Ford Escort Mk2 – 55.25
8, Jonathan Mounsey/Richard Wardle – Mitsubishi Evo 6 – 55.37
9, David Longfellow/Vaughan Graham – Subaru Impreza – 55.53
10, Mark Constantine/Andrew Constantine – Vauxhall Corsa – 55.57

Paul would like to thank his sponsors and partners for their help in 2014.

Main Sponsors
PSI Global UK http://www.psiglobal.co.uk
Smith and Allan Classic Oils    http://www.smithandallan.com
Millington Racing Engines   http://www.millingtonengines.co.uk
Smart Independent Financial Advisors   http://www.smartifa.co.uk
Evalu8d learning and development                http://www.evalu8d.com
Carpet Time      http://www.carpet-time.co.uk
ION Action Cameras    http://www.iontheaction.co.uk

Other Rally Partners
http://www.coach2.com
James Bean Motorsport
Motoscope    http://www.motoscope.co.uk
Sign Design
Pirelli Tyres    http://www.pirelli.com
Cleveland Motorhomes  http://www.clevelandmotorhomes.co.uk
Welund Training Solutions  http://www.welundtraining.com
Avo Suspension    http://www.avouk.com

Follow Paul Swift on the following networks and social media
twitter @paulswiftstunts
http://www.youtube.com/paulswiftstunts
http://www.facebook.com/paulswiftstunts

For further information, please visit http://www.paulswift.com or via Paul Swift Precision Driving, PO Box 116, Darlington, County Durham, DL1 9BT.

Pictures courtey of Mark Wise – Mixed Bag Photography and Stephen Tait – Tait Images:  Paul Swift in action at Croft Circuit on this year’s Swift Signs Christmas Stages Rally

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