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Bilham in action Plains16West Yorkshire rally driver Sam Bilham managed to retain the lead of the hotly contested Fiesta ST Trophy after a solid fourth in class N3 at last weekend’s Plains Rally.  Battling with soaring temperatures and unseasonably dry road conditions, Bilham bagged another decent points haul in his Reis Motorsport Insurance backed Fiesta ST to stay out front of the Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series hosted championship.

The Bingley ace headed to the Welshpool based event with a one hundred per cent finishing record this season and was certainly looking to maintain his run of fortune in the Welsh forests.  With stages similar to those used on the final round of the World Rally Championship Wales Rally GB, they would provide even the most experienced driver with a challenging day in the Dyfi and Gartheiniog forest complex.

In a stark contrast to the November WRC showdown, the Plains rally would see temperatures way into the high twenty’s and rather than rain and fog causing the some 150 crews issues, dust would be the talking point of the day.  With a start number of 109, Bilham with co-driver Richard Crozier would be moved up to 68th on the road, alleviating many concerns before the event.  This proved to be the correct move as the duo recorded times well inside the top 60 throughout the seven stages of the day.

As this was the first dry event Bilham had contested in the Fiesta, it took a while for the 19 year old to settle into the tricky Welsh forests, but his inexperience was not evident and he recorded a string of confidence boosting times throughout the day.  As he crossed the finish ramp back in Welshpool, Bilham was pleased with his progress on the stages.

“It’s been a tough rally all round and it’s been especially hard to adapt to the grip levels in the Fiesta when it’s this dry and dusty” said Bilham.  “That said, I’m really pleased with my times today and it’s good to see we are starting to make inroads on the top 3 contenders, all of which have had much more seat time than I have”.

The day wasn’t without its troubles however. “It almost ended on the penultimate stage when we almost rolled and hit a bank” he explains.  “We had to reverse out of the ditch which cost us some time, which is all part of the learning curve I guess.”

Bilham maintains his lead in the Fiesta ST Trophy and currently sits third in the BTRDA Junior driver award.  The next round of the series is the DMACK Carlisle Stages which takes place in the Kielder Forest on 11th June.

Sam is supported by Reis Motorsport Insurance, Mechanical Solutions, Pertemps Recruitment, The Next Big Step, Gareth Hooper Motorsport Services, Vital Equipment and The Garage at Stanley Mills. For more information on Sam and his rallying career, visit http://www.sambilham.co.uk

Image courtesy of Chicane Media

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