Kick Energy rally driver Steve Perez returned to the forests behind the wheel of his Ford Focus WRC for the first time in a year and came away from this weekend’s Malcolm Wilson Rally with a battling fourth place finish.
Along with Welsh co driver Paul Spooner, the 2010 BTRDA champions were late entries after only deciding to contest the Cumbrian event when the Amigos Tequila flavoured beer-backed Lancia Stratos they were scheduled to contest the Mid Wales Stages Rally in was not ready in time following accident damage on the recent Legend Rally Boucles de Spa.
Despite one of the strongest entries seen on a UK event for many years, the three times British and National Champion was soon on the pace and after the opening three stages, Perez, from Chesterfield, held a solid top six placing.
Grizedale awaited and despite his lack of cockpit time in the ex Marcus Gronholm car, Steve set fourth fastest times through the 19 miles of stages to move up to fourth overall. With two stages remaining and all to play for as he eyed the podium, Perez scorched through the penultimate test in Greystoke third fastest which he repeated on the final stage in Wythop but fell six agonizing seconds short of what would have been a sensational podium finish for the double event winner from 2009 and 2010.
Steve said afterwards: “To finish just six seconds off a podium after not driving the car on gravel since this event last year isn’t too shabby so I’m happy with my performance. We only decided to enter at the last minute when it became clear the Stratos wouldn’t be ready and I figured the time in the Focus would set me up well for Rally Barbados later in the year. This has to be the strongest entry on a UK rally in ten years so the competition was there for sure and it was good that we were competitive all day, especially towards the end. I’m registered for the BTRDA series so I may decide to do some more rounds, especially if the entries on forthcoming rounds are as strong as this.”
Steve next plans to be in action in the Lancia on the Rallye Mallorca later this month.
Image attached (courtesy of Marcus Andrews): Steve Perez and Paul Spooner in action on this weekend’s Malcolm Wilson Rally.