Darlington driver Paul Swift overcame not only the tricky conditions but also some of the best rallycross drivers in the country to sensationally take outright victory in the BTRDA 75th Anniversary Rallycross meeting at Croft Circuit near Darlington today.
In only his second ever rallycross meeting in the Smith and Allan Oils-sponsored 2.4 litre Millington Ford Escort Mk2 with additional backing from PSIGlobal.co.uk, the seven times British Autotest champion set his stall out by setting fastest time in his qualifying heats at the Darlington and District Motor Club organised event.
That meant a pole position start as the ten fastest drivers lined up for the all-important 'A' Final over six laps of the three-quarter mile fast, half sealed, half loose North Yorkshire track.
Despite his lack of experience in the sport, Swift got a great start and trailed the Peugeot 206 Turbo of Stuart Emery in the opening laps whilst the Audi TT of Michael Boak was pressing Swift hard from behind.
After a concerted effort on lap two, Swift made his decisive move around the outside at Hawthorn on lap three, edging past Emery whereby he was never headed. With a rain shower making conditions treacherous just before, Swift drove a calculated race to emerge victorious ahead of Lance Foster (BL Mini) with fellow rally driver John Gaskin (Citroen Saxo) finishing third.
Paul commented: "This is a fantastic result for me which ranks up there amongst my highest achievements in motorsport. Rallycross, the BTRDA and Croft are steeped in history so to win an event here against such class opposition is very special and I'm delighted to have taken victory. I was made to work hard for it as Stuart was driving brilliantly and Michael was letting me know he was there but everything worked out great in the end. I'd like to thank my team, the organisers and the marshals for all their hard work and I hope to be back to defend my crown next year."
Paul would like to thank his sponsors and partners for their help in 2013.
Main Sponsors for 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
PSI Global www.psiglobal.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