Darlington rally driver Paul Swift put the disappointment of the North West Stages Rally firmly behind him when he took a sensational second place in yesterday's TJS Self Drive Alan Healy Memorial Cadwell Park Stages Rally 2013 held at the Lincolnshire race circuit.
Partnered by Barnard Castle co-driver Giles Dykes in the Smith and Allan Oils-sponsored 2.4 litre Millington Ford Escort Mk2, the defending AS Performance North of England Tarmac Rally and Fuchs Titan Race ANCC Stage Rally Tarmac Champion was contesting the event in preparation for next month's Manx National Rally which will see the seven times British Autotest champion make his debut on the challenging event.
With a near-capacity 79 car entry on the Border Motor Club event, Paul was soon into his stride with a fourth fastest time on the opening stage but a time-consuming collision with another competitor on the next stage cost him 30 seconds and dropped him down the order. Undeterred, Swift bounced back to set an amazing second fastest time on the third stage which he consolidated with a pair of top six placings to hold second place overall at half way.
Into the second half of the rally and Paul attacked whereby he was only beaten by the Subaru World Rally Cars of former National Champions Roger Duckworth and David Turnbull, surrendering only a handful of seconds on each of the remaining five stages, such was the pace of the two-wheel drive Ford Escort pairing.
At the finish, Swift clinched runner-up spot just over two minutes behind Turnbull but 42 seconds ahead of fellow Ford Escort Mk2 driver Martin Hodgson, leaving at least 15 four-wheel drive cars in their wake on the dry tarmac.
Paul commented: "The event really suited us and I'm a little surprised to get second place overall but it wasn't all plain sailing. On a couple of stages, we were up on two wheels and then had a couple of close encounters with both the scenery and other competitors and at one point we were close to rolling. The result makes up for the disappointment of retiring last time out in Blackpool and sets us up nicely for the Manx National Rally next month which will be a big challenge. I'm looking forward to getting out in the Manx lanes and it will help that Giles has done the event before so we will see how we get on!"
The Manx National Rally takes place on 10/11 May and is a round of the REIS Get Connected MSA Asphalt Rally Championship which guarantees a top quality entry.
Paul would like to thank his sponsors and partners for their help in 2013.
Smith and Allan Classic Oils www.smithandallan.com
Millinton Racing Engines www.millingtonengines.co.uk
Smart Independent Financial Advisors www.smartifa.co.uk
Evalu8d learning and development www.evalu8d.com
Carpet Time www.carpet-time.co.uk
ION Action Cameras www.iontheaction.co.uk
Other Rally Partners
James Bean Motorsport
Pirelli Tyres www.pirelli.com
Cleveland Motorhomes www.clevelandmotorhomes.co.uk
Welund Training Solutions www.welundtraining.com
Avo Suspension www.avouk.com