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Bingley rally driver Sam Bilham is determined to “enjoy” himself next weekend as he contests the fifth round of the BTRDA Rally Series, the Nicky Grist Stages Rally (13th July).

Bilham will once again be behind the wheel of the Greenlight Sports and Entertainment Ford Fiesta R5 and has cited a more relaxed approach to the Builth Wells based event, which takes in classic Welsh Stages made famous by the FIA World Rally Championship qualifier, Wales Rally GB in the past.

Despite some impressive stage times on his debut season in the front-running four-wheel-drive machine, Bilham has suffered two retirements during the year which means a top championship result is unlikely.

The 22-year-old will adopt a new approach to the forthcoming event with the aim of securing a solid finish for the Greenlight and Swift Group backed pilot.

“The Nicky Grist (Rally) has to be one of my favourites of the season”, says Bilham.

“There are some classic stages and traditionally I have always gone well there. But like all events in the calendar, it will be my first time there in the Fiesta R5 so speeds and braking points will be very different. But after the up and down season so far, I’m ready for a new approach to how I tackle events.

I think it’s fair to say I’ve put myself under a bit of pressure. It’s understandable given the once-in-a-lifetime chance that Greenlight and Swift Group have given me but I don’t think that helps my driving. This weekend, I’m out to enjoy myself”.

After success in the Junior series and Fiesta Trophy, Bilham secured drive on Wales Rally GB in a Fiesta R2 in 2018 which was rewarded by a season in the powerful R5.

Guided by the experienced Patrick Walsh, Bilham suffered an opening round retirement but bounced back with sixth place on the following two rounds before a further retirement on the Plains Rally in May ended his hopes of improving on that result.

His non-scores have left Bilham to think about the remaining rounds and he is hoping a fresh outlook will reap rewards in the stages.

“It’s been two months away from the driver’s seat of the Fiesta, but it’s felt more like two years,” he says.

“I love driving it and to be tackling stages across the forests of Epynt will be mega. But the balance will be important, and I’ll be out there to enjoy it. If we get a good result then so be it, but it’s not essential. I need to repay my superb backers on this one and I hope that relaxing and easing the pressure on myself will be the way to do just that.”

The Nicky Grist Stages takes place across contains eight stages totalling 43 stage miles in the Mid-Wales forests of Crychan, Halfway, Monument and Llyn Login.

Sam is supported by Greenlight Sports & Entertainment, Swift Group, Pirelli, Calvert Construction Ltd, Speedline Corse, Yuasa Battery, Morris Lubricants, The Garage at Stanley Mills

Image credit Paul Mitchell

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