Sam Bilham narrowly missed out on taking the Fiesta ST Trophy title at last weekend’s Event Signs Woodpecker Stages Rally. Bilham took third place at the event, meaning that the fight for the final podium positions will be taken to the final round of the series next month in Yorkshire.
Having led the series for most of the season, Bilham headed to the penultimate round in Ludlow needing nothing less than a win to seal the title. With his inaugural victory eluding him in 2016, the Fiesta Trophy would now be won and lost on the drop scores system which came into play as the season heads towards the closing stages.
The 19 year old secured the services of 2015 co-driver Graham Wild for this event and the reunited duo were looking forward to the battle which would develop in the 40 miles of forestry around Shropshire and Powys.
The day started with torrential downpours and the stages would soon turn from smooth gravel to thick mud making the going tough for the some 160 crews which started the Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series qualifier. Bilham started confidently in only his second wet event behind the wheel of the Fiesta, taking third slot by the end of the opening loop of stages.
Try as he might, he could not make in-roads on the top two positions however and would emerge from the long Radnor test safe in third spot. A trouble free run over the final two stages of the day meant that whilst his solid performance was admirable in the conditions, it would not be enough to take the Fiesta ST Trophy title and a disappointed Bilham would have to wait until October to seal his place in the Championship.
“We knew that we had to win here and it was always going to be an uphill battle to do that” reflected Bilham. “We have been the most consistent finishers in the championship and have maintained a 100 per cent finishing record this year but sometimes that’s not enough and we really needed a win to take advantage of the drop score system. It just worked against us this year. Congratulations must go to Cameron Davies for taking the Trophy”.
But Bilham still has a positive outlook on the final round of the championship. “The Trackrod is my home event and I really do enjoy it there.” he said. “It was always going to be a learning year and getting used to the power and left hand drive after spending all my time in Rally First cars. But perhaps we can really go for it in Yorkshire and see if we can put all the experience learned from this year into practise.”
Image courtesy of Chicane Media