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Bilham NGStagesFiesta ST Trophy frontrunner Sam Bilham overcame power steering failure on the closing stages of Saturday’s BTRDA Nicky Grist Stages to take his third podium of the season.  With just a three point lead in the series going into the Builth Wells based event, Bilham’s third place now sees the Reis Motorsport Insurance backed driver hold the joint lead in the Fiesta ST Trophy with just two rounds remaining.

With heavy early morning rain in the Epynt forests, conditions would prove to be extremely unpredictable and the levels of grip would change with each mile covered. The 19 year old Bingley pilot was joined for this event by co-driver Graham Wild and despite not being together for over 10 months, showed no sign of needing to settle in to the stages as the duo opened the times with a confidence boosting second quickest Fiesta on the first Crychan test.

With one eye on the championship however, Bilham elected not to risk his position during the remaining three stages in the morning and returned to the first and only service of the day in a solid third spot.  Yet to win a round of the ultra-competitive single make championship, Bilham would head out to final loop of stages in a determined mood. But all hopes of making in-roads on his position were dashed on stages five and six when the Fiesta developed a steering problem, losing all power assistance and any hope of gaining on second place.

Proud of their one hundred percent finishing record this year, the team made some hasty repairs at emergency service and Bilham was able to complete the final two stages without drama.  His third position in the Fiesta ST Trophy and class N3 means rival Cameron Davies now draws level with Bilham and the duo now head to the final two rounds of the series with it all to play for.

“It’s been a really challenging day and the conditions have been some of the worst we have seen since the Somerset in April” said Bilham at the finish. “I’m pleased with how consistent we have been this year and I know there is much more to come from both the car and me but we always said this would be a learning year so these results are equally important. Steering failure really put paid to any chance of moving up the leader board but another podium is not a bad end to the day.”

Crews now have an eight week break until the Woodpecker Stages in September. “We will use the summer to gather ourselves together and plan how to attack the final two rounds” he says. “We need to look at the dropped score scenario and see how to play it. But we are getting quicker with every rally and now we need to turn that up a notch in September”.

Sam is supported by Reis Motorsport Insurance, Mechanical Solutions, Pertemps Recruitment, The Next Big Step, Gareth Hooper Motorsport Services, Vital Equipment, Calvert Construction 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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