Darlington rally driver Paul Swift travelled over to the Isle of Man this weekend and came away with a superb top thirty finish on his debut on the gruelling Manx National Rally.
Partnered by Barnard Castle co-driver Giles Dykes 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 and defending AS Performance North of England Tarmac Rally and Fuchs Titan Race ANCC Stage Rally Tarmac Champion finished 29th overall and 9th in class but had to endure his fair share of drama throughout the 120 stage mile event.
A steady start during Friday night's stages saw Swift excel in front of a large crowd on the Ramsey spectator stages, where he set seventh and 12th fastest times on the two short one-mile tests, to arrive back at the overnight halt in Douglas in 29th overall and eighth in class.
Saturday saw mixed conditions around the fast Manx lanes and after a trouble-free morning, Swift ended up off the road on the Tholt-y-will stage, luckily without impacting anything solid. On the next stage, another off saw him venture into a ditch but thanks to the help of spectators, he was soon back in action without too much time loss.
As a result, Paul had to battle his way back into contention from 41st place which he did and despite breaking the exhaust late on, where he was aided by a local farmer who helped him fix it, he arrived at the TT Grandstand finish in a well-deserved top thirty position.
Paul commented: "We came for a finish and that's what we got but there were a number of occasions we thought we wouldn't make it as we pushed our luck at times. I had some fun in front of the big crowd in Ramsey on Friday as those stages were a giant Autotest which suited me! On Saturday we had a straight-on into a bush and luckily, there was no wall or anything behind and I have to say a big thanks to the Welsh lads who got us out of a ditch on the next stage. The exhaust blew late on and with the aid of a local farmer, who loaned us some tools, we managed to fix it and as a result we got to the finish. The conditions were tricky and at times I was out on dry tyres only to come upon it being soaking wet which was very scary and it was hard to read the road conditions at times. But I'm overjoyed to get a finish on the Manx National Rally and its been a huge experience for us."
Paul and Giles' next outing is the Jim Clark Rally which takes place in the Scottish Borders over the weekend of May 31st to June 2nd.
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