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Amigos Tequila Beer founder Steve Perez steered his crowd-pleasing Lancia Stratos through 6 punctures to an impressive top twenty overall position and fourth in class on the longest and toughest event in the British Rallying calendar, the Roger Albert Clark Rally (10-13th November).

Perez, from Chesterfield and three-time event winning co-driver John Millington had dragged the familiar Amigos liveried Stratos up to just outside the top ten before yet another puncture would hamper progress throughout the final day, dropping them down the order and scuppering Perez’s goal of being first “non-Ford” home on the event.

The Roger Albert Clark Rally is a biennial event which consisted of over 260 miles of competitive driving spread across Wales, England and Scotland in four days for the 100 crews which would tackle the event. As one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the UK, Perez was keen to do well on the rally which re-created the “golden era” of the sport. The 2.4 litre V6 powered Amigos Lancia would be the most awaited car for the thousands of rally fans which lined the route.

Perez would be joined by Son, Seb on the event using a Simpson backed Ford Escort MK2 and he would contest only his second event in the car after a successful debut in last months Wales Rally GB. Seb, along with co-driver Alex Lee would be aiming for class D3 honours and build his pace as the event progressed and he continued to learn the rear wheel drive machine.

The rally would start from the famous Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb on Friday morning and after two runs both up and down the hill, the action headed into the forest with gravel stages of Radnor and Epynt in the opening day. The unique roar of the Stratos would ensure the fans were kept entertained in the freezing conditions as Perez Snr would need to take a cautious approach thanks to not having driven the car on gravel for over three years.

After starting the day 33rd overall, Perez eased his way back into the Stratos and ended leg one in 29th spot. The huge trip from Leominster to Carlisle lay ahead on Friday night before an early start on Saturday where the eastern block of Kielder Forest in the Northumbrian Border provided the action and the longest day of the rally.

Sadly day two saw the loss of second gear in the Lancia and Perez would struggle to maintain a confident pace having to change from first to third, but pressed on regardless and into the handful of stages which ended the leg. A puncture hampered progress further still but a determined Perez made it to the end of Saturday in 18th overall. Unable to change the gearbox, he headed into the Scotland stages on Sunday with an uphill task to improve his position.

Meanwhile, Seb would mark his RAC Rally debut with a very impressive run to second in class and 13th overall in the Pinto powered Ford Escort throughout Friday and Saturday morning. Despite lack of gravel experience, Perez Jnr would profess to be “over the moon” at beating Dad Steve. Sadly Saturday would claim Seb as engine failure would see him retire from the event in Shepardshield.

Sunday would see the rally head into Scotland and Steve began a fight back up the leaderboard. Despite more punctures littering his day and the persistent lack of second gear, Perez would end the leg in an impressive third in class and 12th overall.

In the meantime, the Dansport team would head back to Chesterfield and collect Geoff Bell’s Wales Rally GB Ford Escort MK2 for Seb and Perez Jnr would return to the rally in the single day Clubmans and Kielder Rally’s. With twice as much brake horsepower to cope with, Seb duly settled into the steed and took his maiden rally win on Sunday’s event.

Steve started the final day in style, nudging ever closer towards the top ten before yet another puncture and an issue changing the spare saw him drop down the leaderboard to 18th overall and fourth in class as he crossed the finish line in Kielder on Monday afternoon.

“It`s been a great shame to have had so many punctures which blighted our progress pretty much all weekend but its still a fantastic achievement to have completed every single stage on this huge event and make it to the finish,” said Perez.

“The Stratos is a real beast to handle in the forest and loss of second gear on Saturday made it harder still but we persevered and got her round. The crowds have been fantastic and waving us on everywhere we have been. It’s so very noisy in the car but sometimes we can even hear them cheering. Its been a fantastic adventure and we hope the fans have enjoyed seeing it on the stages as much as we have enjoyed driving”.

Meanwhile, Seb would enter the Kielder Rally on Sunday and duly found his rhythm to take his second rally win in as many days.

“It was such a shame to retire from the main event on day one after going so well in the Pinto and of course beating Dad,” said Seb.

“With the rally being so long and all the team still here, we thought about how we could continue and the call was made to borrow Geoff’s (Bell) MK2. The lads headed down and brought it back up to Carlisle for the rest of the event. It was an amazing car to drive and the BDA was just something else. It’s a far cry from the Ginetta I drive in the GT4 Supercup but there is nothing like a sideways MK2 in the forests. I look forward to having another go soon”.

Steve and Seb Perez are backed by Amigos Tequila Beer, Kick Motorsport and Simpson Race Products.

Podium shot courtesy of MCR Motorsport Media, all others

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