Reigning MSA English Rally Champion Sam Bilham continued his winning ways as he took his second DMACK Fiesta ST Trophy win in a row at the Somerset Stages in Minehead.
The 2300 Club John Easson Award winner once again dominated proceedings at last weekend’s meet, taking victory over the remaining eight Trophy crews to firm up his lead.
Along with co-driver Cameron Fair, the duo now lead the Trophy by four points and in the process, Bilham also heads the Ravenol BTRDA Junior Driver Award and class N3 leader boards.
In his second year in the series, the 20 year old Bingley driver headed to the seaside rally base in a confident mood. But the Somerset Stages has a reputation for biting back and 14 arduous stages lay ahead during the day, including a double run up the asphalt of Porlock Toll Road.
Judging his pace from the off would prove tricky and Bilham found himself down in second spot after the first group of three stages. With the shorter stages offering little opportunity to settle into a rhythm, Bilham would have to wait until the longer Croydon test before he could turn the tables and hit the front of the Trophy runners, albeit by a slender two seconds.
In a bid to reduce costs, the Trophy runners would need to tackle the next two asphalt tests with gravel tyres and it would be the Porlock Toll road where Bilham would seal his victory, opening out a 20 second lead as he headed back onto the gravel for the final loop.
A trouble free final six stages allowed Bilham to extend that lead to just over 30 seconds and he would return to the Minehead seafront finish ceremony to spray the champagne, taking his second victory in as many events.
“The Somerset Stages is a really deceptive event so our plan was to stay out of trouble this weekend and see where we were after each service halt” said Bilham.
“That plan seemed to work well today and we didn’t push too hard when it was damp this morning. Porlock was really hard work on the gravel tyres but it was the same for everyone. We knew preserving them on the first run up would be important and that helped us edge out a bit of a lead. It’s been a dream start to the year and we just hope we can continue this form for the remaining rounds of the series”.