Along with Welsh co-driver Paul Spooner, the Chesterfield Ford Focus WRC07 driver ended up just over seven seconds behind third placed Trinidadians Jeffrey Panton and Michael Fennell Jnr (Ford Focus) after 21 hard fought stages around the Caribbean island.
A steady start on Saturday saw the former British Historic, MSA National and BTRDA Champion set a string of top six times in the BTR-prepared car as he chased the leading bunch but then on SS7, he upped the ante to record fastest time which moved him up the order at the overnight halt.
Once into his stride on Sunday for the remaining ten stages, Perez gamely battled with the Ford Focuses of eventual winners Paul Bird/Kirsty Riddick and local aces Paul Bourne/Megan Bryant and courtesy of a late charge which saw him set second fastest times on the final three stages, Perez clinched a fine fourth place and in doing so, was just over half a minute down on Bird after over an hour and 125km of competitive action on the island’s roads.
Steve Perez: “That’s the fourth time I’ve finished fourth on this event and although I’m disappointed to miss out on a podium, I’m really pleased with the result. It doesn’t really tell the whole story as I dropped some time on a couple of stages late on pushing too hard but that’s what you have to do here to beat these quality drivers. The highlight, however, has got to be winning a stage and even better was beating Paul Bird on it but fair play to him on the victory, even though I’m claiming some credit for loaning him some tyres! I’m delighted my pace was good enough to run at the front as I’m no expert on tarmac and I’ve surprised myself that I’m in this type of company if I’m being honest.”
1 Paul Bird/Kirsty Riddick (Ford Focus WRC08)
2 Paul Bourne/Megan Bryant (Ford Focus WRC07)
3 Jeffrey Panton/Michael Fennell Jnr (Ford Focus WRC06)
4 Steve Perez/Paul Spooner (Ford Focus WRC07)
5 Neil Armstrong/Barry Ward (Toyota Starlet)
6 Roger Duckworth/Aled Davies (Subaru Impreza WRC)
7 Rob Swann/Darren Garrod (Subaru Impreza WRC)
8 Josh Read/Mark Jordan (Toyota Starlet)
9 Roger Mayers/Barry Mayers (WR Starlet)
10 Logan Watson/Rhett Watson (BMW M3)
Picture Credit: Courtesy of Sean Chandler www.vtcaribbean.com: Steve Perez and Paul Spooner on their way to fourth place in 2012 SOL Rally Barbados.