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Dreadful weather conditions met all the crews on the 35th running of the Manx National Rally held in the Isle of Man but it brightened up on the Saturday stages. Using his experience from last years’ event and with some crews not getting to the finish, Paul gained good Championship points overall and his class, and provisionally won the Millington RWD Challenge.Evans Manx15a

Paul faced over 110 competitive stage miles over some of rallying’s most iconic roads having had some tips from Rallying Legend Ari Vatanen, who attended the Driveme Driving Centre with ‘A’ list actor Idris Elba prior to his World Production Land Speed Record attempt. Paul had organised use of his venue for filming prior to the record attempt taking place. Elba, who is famous for his portrayal of the troubled TV detective Luther, and for his role as Nelson Mandela, used a brand new Bentley Continental GT Speed to break Malcolm Campbells record of 174.8 mph that was set in 1927.

The record attempt was part of an upcoming four part Discovery Channel series featuring Idris and his mentor, former world rally champion Ari Vatanan. The Driveme Driving Centre in Stafford was used where Idris and Ari concentrated on diving techniques and had a few runs in the Bentley together.

Once they had finished filming, and not wanting to miss an opportunity to get Ari behind the wheel of his MK 2 Escort, Paul brought the car he was using to tackle the following weeks Manx National Rally in the Isle of Man to the driving centre. Ari who became World Champion in 1981 driving a Ford Mk2 Escort didn’t waste any time in shoehorning himself into the driving seat.

Ari didn’t disappoint and was sideways within seconds. He then spent some time giving Paul advice on how to approach his rally. Ari said “Paul don’t use the brakes on the Isle of Man as they slow you down!”

Paul set off for the Isle of Man with his hero’s advice fresh in his mind and was partnered by Den Golding again following their great result on the previous Championship round.

Nearly 650 miles were covered on the Island while on the recce, Den commented on that he had never sat with any rally driver that concentrates on the racing line like Paul does! Must be the hours Paul has spent driving around racing circuits such as Anglesey Race Circuit which driveme uses for their experiences.

Stages started in horrible wet conditions on the Friday night and Paul set off at an easy pace on Stage 1 to get a feel of grip levels and didn’t want to make a mistake. Stage 2 used all of stage 1 and then at a split carried on to fast flowing main roads for around 10 miles. Paul really enjoys the wet conditions and after catching and overtaking a couple of cars ahead he posted 11th fastest stage time out of around 135 drivers.

This pushed Paul up from his original seeding of 58 to 19th overall, 3 long stages remained where Paul caught and overtook other cars and conditions remained treacherous. After a 20 minute service Stage 5 was completed in the dark and the wet.

Most drivers including Paul were relieved to get to the finish of the first leg, hoping that conditions were going to be better the following day.

Evans Manx15bSaturday conditions were a lot better but the pace had hotted up with the faster more powerful cars coming into their own. The stages went really well and Paul’s pacenotes were perfect. All of the hard work spent by Paul and Den prior to the event and the hours spent driving over the stages beforehand really paid off for them both.

The last 2 stages of the rally were far from perfect. When they arrived at the last short Ramsey stage that used part of the TT Course Den couldn’t find his notes. He scrambled around inside the car to find the missing notes but to no avail. A text message from the service crew solved the mystery. They had found the pace notes in the chase car and would hand them to Den at emergency service before the last stage.

Paul said to Den let’s just do it! To their surprise they could both remember the parts of the stage and actually clocked a time 4 seconds quicker than the first run over the stage in the morning.

The last test of the crew and car was a gruelling 14 miles over the Druidale Stage, one of the most famous stages on the Island. 4 miles in, and having successfully negotiated the famous hairpin at Brandywell Cottage, and with roughly 10 miles left, the intercom failed and Paul couldn’t hear Den’s pace notes. A hand signal from Paul to Den to show that he could no longer hear him, and for a few crucial seconds panic set in. Den’s vast experience kicked in and instead of sitting there as a passenger he used his initiative and started to use his fingers for the severity of the bends followed by pointing to the left or right. He said at the end he didn’t know what to do when he came to a 6 and said a 5 had to do!

Den said at the end of the stage he couldn’t believe how committed Paul drove on his hand signals and they were only about 20 seconds slower than the first run but they both felt they lost time due to not being able to drive on the notes.

Rally completed and Paul finished 18th overall in the National Section and gained good championship points and now lies joint 6th overall and is leading his class and topping the standings of the Millington RWD Challenge.

Next for Paul is another trip over the water this time to Ireland for the ALMC Stages and the 3rd round of the Reis National Tarmac Championship again with Den Golding.

Wirral Based Paul is a director of Driveme Driving Experiences, one of the leading supercar and rally driving experience companies in the UK. Driveme offer both adults and children from the age of 12 to drive cars such as a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin etc at their Stafford and Anglesey Locations. Paul is a former Professional Racing and Rally Instructor and set up Driveme over 10 years ago with 2 fellow Instructors, their head office is based in Ellesmere Port.

Paul would like to thank his sponsors for the 2015 season that include Driveme, Accident Advice Solicitors, Jones Motors, Paintworx, 360 Autolease Northwest, Lucas Oils, APM Customs, Proflex Suspension, JW Signs and Michelin.

Please credit Ralliphotowales for the on event images of Paul.


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