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Maldon rally driver Nabila Tejpar secured a solid finish on her World Rally Championship debut at last weekend’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (26-29th October).

Overcoming not one but two transmission failures during the arduous rally, Tejpar and co-driver Richard Bliss were able to cross the finish ramp in Llandudno on Sunday evening, finishing the event in 65th overall and 11th in class RC4.

Despite being in just her second year in the sport, Tejpar has already been crowned Prestone MSA Ladies British Rally Champion and would take on the biggest challenge of her career by contesting the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Piloting her Dunkin Donuts and Pump Technology backed Ford Fiesta R2, she would need to draw on all of her previous experience if she was to survive the 300km, four-day endurance event.

Competing alongside some of the best drivers in the World, Tejpar was eager to tackle the event in a bid to gain more experience ahead of her 2018 programme after narrowly missing out on a BRC Cadet Cup podium this season. Run by the MH Motorsport outfit, the aim of the event was to reach the finish, a feat in itself on one of the hardest events in the World Rally Championship calendar.

After a tricky but short spectator stage around Tir Prince on Thursday night, the rally would head into the forests on Friday for a loop of three stages in Mid-Wales, repeated in the afternoon. Understandably, with stages over twice as long as she has contested before, Tejpar took a cautious approach to the stages as she built her confidence in the slippery conditions and navigated her way to the end of the opening day.

However, on the return to service a slipping clutch would get much worse and the MH Motorsport team would need to replace the unit. With just two minutes to spare, the clutch was changed and Tejpar could start Saturday’s leg with her renewed confidence from Friday.

Despite another solid run over the opening loop of stages, all Tejpar’s hard work would be undone with a double driveshaft failure on the Dyfi 2 stage and she would be side lined for the remainder of the day.

Thanks to the Rally2 format which allows crews to re-join the event at the start of the next leg, the NUA Motors, Advanced Chiropractic and Allied Polymer backed Fiesta was once again returned to full health for the final five stages of the rally on Sunday.

Eager to make the finish, Tejpar returned a mature drive over the final leg of the event to cross the finish ramp in Llandudno 65th overall and 11th in RC2 and the 24-year-old was relieved to make the final control.

“That was most definitely the toughest challenge I’ve ever had to face and it truly lived up to its reputation as one of the hardest events in the rallying calendar,” said Tejpar at the finish.

“I thought I was prepared for the event but it really did surprise me just how difficult it would be and the days were really long. But when you get to compete alongside the best drivers in the world on stages that are 35km long it doesn’t take you long to remember why you are there and how privileged you are.”

Tejpar was frustrated by the technical issues that blighted her event but it did not hamper her goal of completing the rally.

“It was a shame that we had to use Rally2 on Saturday but we only missed a few stages and we have completed more miles this weekend than three British Championship rounds put together so the experience we have gained has been valuable. It’s been an amazing rally and I`m so glad I’ve done it. I came here for an experience that I can take forward to the future and that’s what I got. I’m really looking forward to seeing what next year holds for us. I’m really excited for it now”

For more information on Tejpar, please visit http://www.nabilatejpar.com
For more information on Wales Rally GB, please visit http://www.walesrallygb.com
Image credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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