John Easson Award winner Sam Bilham enjoyed his third win of the season as he took the DMACK Fiesta ST Trophy and class N3 honours at last weekend’s Plains Rally.
However, Bilham didn’t have it all his own way and was languishing down in fifth at the halfway point of the event, before recovering to take the victory in the closing stages of the Welshpool based BTRDA Rally Series qualifier.
Bilham and co-driver Cameron Fair have been a driving force in the closely fought Fiesta Trophy this season and headed to round three of the series with two wins. They were arguably pre-event favourites too as Bilham would be contesting the series for the second time, putting his knowledge of the stages and events to good use.
Bilham had one eye on the entry list heading to the event however, as a bumper entry of 10 contenders in the single make formula would make Bilham’s dominance of the category much less of a foregone conclusion.
With the super-fast nature of the north Wales stages favouring the brave, Bilham opened proceedings with a second fastest time on the first stage of the event, just five seconds adrift from the leader and well within reach. However as the stages went by, Bilham found himself languishing further back and his second place had turned into fifth by the mid-point service halt in Dolgellau.
“Something isn’t right with the car” said Bilham. “It feels very down on power and really struggling up the hills. Its spoiling the rhythm a bit too as I can’t commit to the corners. It’s just not pulling us round. I guess if they can’t find anything I just need to take a brave pill and get on with it“.
As it turned out, both of Bilham’s suggestions would come into play as a blocked air intake pipe hampered progress in the opening loop. Still, his “brave pill” would need to be popped if he was to stand any chance of a podium, let alone a win.
Stage by stage Bilham picked off the competition and by the sixth from nine special tests, he had driven impeccably to find himself in the lead of the Fiesta ST runners. There he would stay to spray the champagne on his third Fiesta Trophy win in a row.
“Well I certainly wasn’t expecting to win again after this morning” said Bilham. “I’m glad the team found the air intake issue but I think we were still a little too conservative this morning. I knew I had to buck up my ideas as fifth would have really not done our championship any favours but I was working on at least a podium to be fair. Taking another win is really satisfying and probably one of my best drives yet. Huge thanks to Cameron and the team today, we all knuckled down and got on with it. And it worked“.
Round four of the BTRDA series heads north them to DMACK Carlisle Stages on the 10th June.