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17-year-old Ed Fossey completed the demanding Nicky Grist Stages at the weekend (9 July) in a fine 77th overall and third in class in what was his debut gravel rally.Fossey NG16

The Jerseyman competed on the mid Wales classic in a Yokohama Next Big Step, rally prepared Suzuki Swift run by the experienced Peter Gwynne Motorsport.  It was to be a real learning curve for Fossey and navigator Tom Hutchings as they took on the 45-mile event alongside World Rally Championship star Elfyn Evans as well as MSA British Rally Championship front-runners Fredrik Ahlin and David Bogie at the front of the field.

The almost biblical weather conditions made the forest tracks incredibly slippery on the morning pass and for Ed in his front-wheel-drive Suzuki, the priority was to gain competitive miles and record a solid finish. As rivals faulted, the St Lawrence resident got his head down and set about building his experience. Starting car 116, the Next big Step driver made his way into the top 100 by the second stage before holding 89th and fourth in class at the lunchtime halt.

A tricky second pass through the stages made them incredibly rutted – meaning Ed had to thread the nimble Yokohama-shod Suzuki through the ruts to claim a lucrative finish. A mature drive through the rough stages and torrential rain saw Fossey claim a well-earned 77th overall and third in class at the end of the eight-stage event.

“The Nicky Grist Stages was a completely new challenge for me,” explained Fossey. “It was my first gravel event so I took it relatively easy as I wanted to build my confidence and get used to what gravel rallying is all about.

“We have learnt a lot from the event and my speed improved after every stage. There was no plan other than to finish – so to pick up third in class was an added bonus!

“I would like to thank my supporters for getting me to this event. I am very grateful to everyone especially the Next Big Step and Yokohama. The tyres really took the rough stage punishment and coupled with the Suzuki – which didn’t miss a beat, all gave me the confidence to progress and get quicker.

“Our next event is the Tyneside Stages, so back to Tarmac, a surface I know very well. This is where we can push a little more and continue to develop further.”

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