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Just days after retiring with transmission failure from Rallye Salamandre in Belgium, Steve Brown ensured his season was back on track by securing a class podium at last weekend’s HRCR Mini Sport Cup – Dixies Historic Challenge (29th April).

Brown and co-driver Paul Stringer would quickly adapt to the classic Mini across the notorious Epynt Military Ranges and secured an impressive second place in class MC4 against many more seasoned competitors in the category. Brown’s success at the weekend comes with perfect timing as the 29 year old will now prepare to head to Spain to tackle the Rallye Festival Transmiera on 10th-12th May.

In a troubled start to 2018, the Rochdale based driver was due to head across the channel at the beginning of the month to kick-start his 2018 Flanders International Rally Challenge (FIRC) campaign in his familiar Nissan Micra Kit Car. But at the last minute, he was forced to swap to a Historic Mini due to the Nissan not being ready in time.

All his efforts were in vein however as gearbox failure on the third stage side-lined the Mini and it would be a race against time to ensure the car could compete in Wales last weekend. Luckily, the issue was fixed during the week and Brown could head to the ranges near Llandovery with the hopes of securing a finish and gaining valuable experience in the car ahead of further outings later in the year.

The Historic-specification Mini would provide a very different viewpoint to the event for Brown, having previously contested events at the venue in his Micra as part of the National Asphalt Championship in 2016. But he would not be fazed by the change of power, handling and braking, battling hard all day long to take second place in the hotly-contested Mini class.

To add to the weekend, Brown also elected to play his “Joker card” meaning his result bags one and half times the points allocated for the championship and he was pleased to finally get a finish for the car.

“It’s a totally different beast to drive and I really have had to change my driving style and approach to the whole event” said Brown.

“So to come away from my first full rally in the car with a class podium is really encouraging. I will admit I do have a lot more to learn about driving the Mini, I’m pretty sure there are places that I could make up time on my rivals but for now I`m happy to have taken my first rally finish of the season with an award. The competition was excellent too and with 20 or so other Mini’s competing in the Cup, the camaraderie was fantastic”.

Brown will not have time relish his success for too long, as he heads for northern Spain in a week’s time to contest the invite-only Rallye Festival Transmiera. This time, Brown will be taking the Nissan Kit Car to Europe and is excited at the prospect of competing in the country for the first time. Over 160 cars will be tackling the closed road event in the North East of Spain.

“It’s a real honour to be invited over to tackle the rally and it looks like it’s an amazing event” he says.

“To be honest its very humbling when you see some of the names on the entry list and to line up alongside legends such as Juha Kankkunen is pretty special. There will be no heroics from me as the car will still be very fresh but of course we want to put on a show for the crowd and the atmosphere there will be unbeatable. I don’t think I’ve looked forward to a rally so much in ages!”

You can follow his progress throughout the season via his website, on Facebook and Twitter.

Brown is supported in 2018 by Fuchs Titan Race, Questmead Ltd, 710, Mintex Racing, PIAA, Brake Prep and Pirelli.

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