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Progressive rally co-driver Phil Hall guided Brit Tom Williams to seventh overall in the Junior World Rally Championship category at round three of the series in Portugal, despite suffering a mid-event roll, fire and numerous punctures in their Ford Fiesta R2T.

Enduring one of the toughest events Hall has ever contested, he guided Williams through three days of difficult conditions at the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, overcoming numerous challenges along the way to record his best ever JWRC finish, scoring a valuable six points towards his championship campaign.

Hall, 29 from Mansfield has enjoyed a packed season in the co-drivers seat so far, with outings in New Zealand, Paraguay and the UK complimenting his assault on the FIA Junior World Rally Championship.

The backed co-driver would head to Portugal in a bid for a solid finish after recording one non-finish in the opening two rounds of the season. The rally would be held in the notoriously difficult mountainous stages around the Porto rally base, with over 350km of special stage action lying in wait.

With experience learnt from his non-championship outing in Mexico which could arguably have similar conditions to that in Portugal, Hall ensured Williams emerged from day one of the three-day event in fine shape, ending the leg in sixth overall.

Despite a puncture on the ultra-rough tests, with 13 other Junior crews all battling for honours in identical machines, their impressive string of stage times set out their stall for the remainder of the rally.

Day two saw Hall storm into fifth overall during the day before disaster struck the Fiesta. Clipping the inside of a corner, it tipped into a small roll and the subsequent oil pipe failure was enough to prematurely end the leg for the RAF reservist.

Not to be outdone, the M-Sport Ford team could effect repairs once back at the service park and Hall was able to re-start the third day under the Rally2 regulations.

But they were not alone. Such was the intensity of the stages, almost half of the JWRC crews would need to re-join the rally after retiring from the leg and Hall would ensure that Williams’ persistence would pay off over the final day. Keeping out of trouble over the final five stages, Hall was elated to cross the finish ramp in seventh spot after a difficult event.

“I didn’t think rallies could get any tougher than Mexico earlier on this year but I think this weekend beats that,” said Hall.

“We just had everything thrown at us this weekend, from punctures, damaged steering to a roll but we were able to bounce back from that every time. It really was a true test of grit and determination that got us through the weekend, I haven’t seen stages as rough as that before.”

Hall believes that whilst the result was an important part of the event, the ability to bounce back from potentially rally-ending issues was a vital process.

“Tom and I are a great team but when the pressure is as intense as it can be during an event, it’s really important to stay focused and concentrate on the next move. It was a mentally and physically draining rally but I’m really proud of the way we both handled ourselves I guess. It will certainly make us stronger going forward to the remaining rounds of the season”.

Rally Finland will mark the next outing for Hall in the JWRC at the end of July.

Hall is sponsored by WWW.ITSMYMOTORSPORT.CO.UK
He is also supported by the Royal Air Force and is a graduate of the MSA Academy.

Image credits M-Sport/JWRC

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