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trackrod15 (95)MSA RSF Young Driver of the Year Sam Bilham endured a tough day in the Yorkshire forest last weekend as he narrowly missed out on a Rally First podium spot at the REIS-Ravenol BTRDA Championship qualifier, Trackrod Rally Yorkshire. After sitting in an impressive second in RF1.4 for much of the day, a penultimate stage off would dash all hopes of a win and the Bingley star dropped out of contention to fifth as he crossed the Pickering Showground finish ramp.

Originally planning to use his newly acquired Allfab EMS Ltd backed Ford Fiesta ST, a last minute switch to his familiar Nissan Micra due to a mechanical issue would mean Bilham would not be able to utilise the event to learn the new steed which he will use on Wales Rally GB later in the year. However, the Micra would enable the 18 year old to vie for victory in the hotly contested Rally First series, something which has eluded him during his sporadic outings this year.

Co-driven for the event by Joe Cruttenden, the duo stamped their intentions firmly on the leader board during the opening two stage loop of the event, returning to the Pickering based service in an impressive second place. A confidence boosting run throughout the afternoon loop saw the newly formed pairing head out for the final two stages with a secure runner up spot.

But, an uncharacteristic off into the undergrowth on the penultimate test meant they dropped to third and with damage sustained to the front end, they limped through the stage in the hope of making it to the finish in the final podium position.  However, the impact had caused unseen issues with the front suspension and the front wheel became insecure during the final stage, slowing the Micra to a crawling pace and losing all hopes of a decent home result for Bilham.

“It was frustrating not to be using the Allfab EMS Fiesta for my home event but we wanted to be sure everything was perfect before it made its debut” he said.  “It’s lucky we had the Micra ready to go and I really enjoyed the first four stages today. The car felt good and it’s the first time this year we have been on this pace which is encouraging, but the off into the scenery really ended our charge and I had to concentrate on getting back to the finish. We only just managed that too but overall it was a good event for us and it’s good to know I still have the pace which has eluded me so far this year. I have to concentrate on November now and learning the new car. There will be a lot to take in over the next few months.”

Bilham will now turn his attentions to the final round of the World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB where he will make his international rallying debut in the Fiesta ST.

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

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