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rallyisleofman16-215Rochdale rally ace Steve Brown took his first class podium of 2016 in Belgium, finishing third in class 3F at last weekend’s penultimate round of the Flanders International Rally Challenge (FIRC), The Hemicuda Rally.

Despite spending five minutes in one of the infamous ditches on the opening stage of the event, Brown and co-driver Paul Stringer fought back over the remaining eight stages to finish the event 59th overall from a field of 105 crews who would start the event.

The 1300cc Nissan Micra Kit Car is at a significant power disadvantage to its class rivals but Brown has managed to get the most from the machine throughout his FIRC campaign. Buoyed by a class win at last month’s Rally Isle of Man, Brown would head back across the English Channel in a confident mood to tackle over 100kms of closed public roads in the North West of Belgium.

But Brown’s rally was almost over before it began when the Nissan slipped into a deep Belgium ditch on the opening test of the event and became lodged on its side.  However, with the help of many eager rally fans, Brown managed to extract the Micra from the ditch and complete the stage, albeit with a stage time only good enough for third from last.

After a quick check of the car, the 28 year old Questmead Sales Engineer set about making up for lost time and began his fightback up the leader board. Recording times inside the top fifty on the remaining stages in the loop, Brown was back up to 84th place at the halfway point of the event, snatching third in class 3F in the process.

His fine form continued for the rest of the day and a trouble free run over the closing stages saw Brown sneak inside the top 60 as he crossed the finish line in Koekelare to take his first class podium in the series this season.

“We truly thought it was all over on the opening stage this morning” said Brown. “But thanks to the mammoth efforts from the spectators, we managed to get back onto the road and complete the stage. We had discussed driving for a finish at that point but the car felt really good and we built a decent rhythm up through the rest of the morning stages. Once the confidence came back, we pushed on in the afternoon loop and to recover from pretty much last to 59th was a real achievement.”

Brown can now look forward to the final round of the FIRC in November. “We can seal third place the two wheel drive category on the 6u van Kortrijk Rally so I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel again.  It’s been a really fantastic year over in Belgium and hopefully we can end the season on a high”.

Brown is supported in 2016 by Fuchs Titan Race, Questmead Ltd, Mintex Racing 710, PIAA and Pirelli

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