Kick Energy rally driver Steve Perez scored a sensational debut victory on today’s Malcolm Wilson Rally after a day of drama in the forests of the Lake District.
Driving the Ford Focus WRC with Scotsman Kevin Rae on the notes, the Chesterfield businessman was doing battle in the back yard of two of his rivals, M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson and arch rival Paul Bird.
Sponsoring both of their respective World Rally and World Superbike teams, Perez was up against Wilson, who was in action in the 2WD Ford Escort, but the main chalice was that of Bird who has won the event three times.
However, the battle failed to materialise when Bird crashed out on SS2 leaving Perez to battle with BTRDA regulars Hugh Hunter (Ford Focus WRC) and Will Nicholls (Subaru WRC).
A combination of incorrect tyre choice on the opening stages, coupled with stopping to see if Bird needed assistance following his accident, saw the double British Champion drop time but gradually he upped the pace despite the tricky conditions.
Driving conservatively, Perez chipped away and by the end of the rally’s seventh stage in Greystoke, he’d secured the victory by a handsome 25 seconds as the crews headed back to the Cockermouth finish.
“I’m ecstatic” declared Perez. “To win this event is fantastic as we sponsor the M-Sport Team from just up the road but this is Birdy’s back yard and it’s a shame he couldn’t muster a challenge today. We stopped to see if he was OK and from then on, we just had to make sure we kept it clean ourselves and to win the event for the first time is brilliant. And what’s more, the champagne is going to taste even better tonight as Paul Bird is buying not only for me, but for Malcolm Wilson too!”
Perez will be back in action in just two week’s time on the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally when he hopes to erase the disappointment of an early retirement on the opening round of the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship in Bournemouth last weekend.
1 Steve Perez/Kevin Rae Ford Focus WRC 44:24
2 Will Nicholls/Nick Broom Subaru Impreza WRC 44:49
3 David Wright/Michael Wilkinson Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9 45:16
4 Tim Pearcey/Robin Hernaman Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9 46:10
5 Michael O’Brien/Paul Spooner Ford Focus WRC 46:12
6 Jonathan Greer/Anthony O’Conaill Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9 46:15
7 Paul Benn/Richard Cooke Ford Focus WRC 46:22
8 Nigel Griffiths/Josh Burton Subaru Impreza 46:33
9 David Weston jnr/Neil Shanks Subaru Impreza 46:43
10 Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh Hyundai Accent WRC 47:02
Picture attached of Steve Perez on his way to victory on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, courtesy of Ian Hardy (www.ianhardy.net)
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