Bilham aims to bounce back in Cumbria
By sambilham, Mar 4 2019 09:46AM
Greenlight Sports and Entertainment - Ford Fiesta R5 driver Sam Bilham will be aiming for a solid finish at this weekend’s second round of the BTRDA Rally Series, The Malcolm Wilson Rally (9th March).
After ending his maiden outing in the top-spec machine with a holed radiator in the early stages of the Cambrian Rally, Bilham will be hoping for better fortunes in Cumbria and will head to the home of the Ford World Rally Team, Dovenby Hall at M-Sport in Cockermouth.
He will be joined in the co-driver’s seat by the current leader of the British Rally Championship, Patrick Walsh.
The 22-year-old from Bingley would enjoy his first outing in the four-wheel-drive car in February as he kick-started his inaugural season behind the wheel of a car that can potentially win the championship outright.
Having spent much of his career in two-wheel-drive examples, Bilham was offered the chance of a lifetime, to contest this year’s BTRDA in Greenlight backed Fiesta R5.
After setting an impressive time through the opening stage of the North Wales based event, Bilham overshot a junction on the very next stage, which caused leaking radiator, forcing him to retire on his debut. Now, he will head to the second round of the series with a fresh approach and will be aiming to secure his first result of the season.
“I guess the pressure was on at the Cambrian Rally and pretty much everything was new to me so it was a surprise to set such a good time on the opening stage,” says Bilham.
“But my inexperience showed on the second and it was just really unfortunate that the radiator was damaged as we could have carried on. But look, I've got that out of the way and I can really concentrate on getting my first finish of the year. I have no expectations on a result so just being there at the end will be the main focus”.
Bilham had only had a brief pre-event test to get acclimatised to the car before the rally in February and believes that despite only a handful of miles in the car in North Wales, they will prove valuable for the weekend ahead.
“There is no substitute for competitive mileage and I probably learnt more about myself and the car in those 10 or so miles that I did in half a day testing. I`ll need to find the pace that I'm comfortable with and build slowly this time.”
The Malcolm Wilson Rally offers over 40 stage miles in classic forests such as Grizedale which will be a tough test for the 100 crews in the event.
“Staying on the road will be so important this weekend. The stages are notoriously tough in Cumbria so I`ll need to keep in the middle of the road as much as possible. Having Patrick alongside me will certainly help as his knowledge of the Fiesta and its capabilities are second to none. I’m looking forward to this one and finally getting a finish under my belt”.