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British rally driver Sam Bilham

2014 MSA RSF Young Driver of the Year, BTRDA Rally First 1.0, F1000 senior and MSA English Rally Junior Champion. 2016  MSA English Rally Champion, 2300 Club John Easson Award Winner, DMACK Fiesta ST Trophy and BTRDA N3 Champion

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By sambilham, Jun 28 2018 07:30AM

The 2016 John Easson Award winner Sam Bilham will return to active competition for the first time since March after securing a one-off drive in the Swift Group Ford Fiesta R2 at next month’s Nicky Grist Stages Rally (14th July).


The Bingley rally driver has only managed one outing this season after winning last year’s DMACK Fiesta ST Trophy which ran alongside the BTRDA Rally Series. Bilham will now compete on the fourth round of the series in a more powerful R2 specification machine, thanks to the support of the Swift Group, Greenlight Sports and Entertainment and the car’s owner Peter Smith.


The 21-year old enjoyed a successful outing at Rally North Wales earlier in the season behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Adam Cup Car, taking second in class despite having only driven the car during a short pre-event test.


As a pre-cursor to an R2 car, the Adam Cup offered Bilham an excellent base to learn advanced suspension and transmission technology from his previous Fiesta ST, enabling him to jump into the popular Fiesta R2 at the Builth Wells based event. He will be co-driven by Graham Wild and backed by DMACK Tyres.


Bilham enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2017, taking multiple class and category wins to take the coveted Fiesta trophy with two rounds to spare. After lifting the title, the 21-year old has been searching for the budget to progress his career ever since.


“We always knew that this year would be a difficult one as the ladder of progression really only leads us to the British Championship which is out of our budget at the moment” explains Bilham.


“After selling the Fiesta ST, we have been on the lookout for chances to compete again so when the offer came about to finally drive a full R2 Fiesta I was overjoyed at the prospect. I have to say a huge thank you to the Swift Group and Matt Edwards at ME Rallysport who will run the car, for this opportunity”.


Although this will be Bilham’s first foray into an R2, he has extensive knowledge of the stages used on the Nicky Grist thanks to his Junior and Fiesta title campaigns during the last few years. Whilst he realises it will be a steep learning curve, Bilham is excited to return to the sport and on forests he enjoys.


“The Nicky Grist is a fantastic rally so it’s a good place to ground yourself when you try something like the Fiesta as you don’t have to worry too much about adapting to the stages” he explains.


“I can fully concentrate on making sure I make the most of the experience as this is really where I want to be right now. The R2 Rallye Cup in the BTRDA is very competitive so I won't be paying too much attention to their times during the day, but it will offer a chance to see what my pace is like straight out the box.


“I've wanted to get myself into an R2 ever since I sold my Fiesta ST last year so this really is a bit of a dream come true for me. I guess there is a bit of pressure attached to the outing but I’m certainly going to be doing my own thing and just enjoy it. I can't wait”.


Sam is supported by The 2300 Club John Easson Award, Calvert Construction, Reis Motorsport Insurance, DMACK Tyres, The Garage at Stanley Mills and Gareth Hooper Motorsport Services.



By sambilham, Mar 25 2018 05:43PM

Sam Bilham enjoyed a positive debut behind the wheel of a new Vauxhall ADAM Cup car last weekend at Rally North Wales (24th March), taking the impressive machine to second in class M3 and 11th modern crew home at the Dolgellau based event.


The Bingley rally driver would head to Wales for the opening round of the new Rally2 series and this would also mark the inaugural outing for Bilham in a Mechanical Solutions backed ADAM.


The nimble Cup car had been offered to Bilham by the firm’s owner Nigel Lewis and son Eddie took to the co-drivers seat for the event.


Bilham had not had a competitive outing since taking the Fiesta ST Trophy title last year and was looking forward to getting his season underway with a new car, new co-driver and new event. Whilst he had traversed the Dyfi and Gartheniog stages on other rallies previously, the Rally North Wales format meant only small sections of the special tests would be a familiar sight.


He had only sampled the ADAM in a brief pre-event test so would need to take a cautious approach to the opening loop of stages. An early morning triple-header of tests in the slippery Welsh mud would be a tough challenge to start the day but the 21 year old took a mature approach to the day.


Building his confidence with each stage, Bilham entered the mid-point service halt in an impressive third in class M3 but admitted there was “more to come” from both the car and himself.


True to his word, the 2016 John Easson award winner settled perfectly into the DMACK Tyres shod ADAM on the final loop of three stages to cross the finish ramp in Dolgellau in an impressive second spot in his Vauxhall debut.


Bilham was delighted with his progress throughout the trouble-free day.


“I was hoping to do well this weekend, despite my lack of seat time in the car to but have taken second in class really has exceeded my expectations” said Bilham, “I’m pleased with my progress throughout the day and with the end result”.


“It took a while to bed myself in to the car and the stages this morning but that was to be expected. The stages were pretty tricky to be fair so we really wanted to make sure we made it round. I knew I had to give the car back when I`m finished so I was a little cautious at times!”


Bilham is eager to have further outings in ADAM in the future.


“The car is similar in characteristics to my championship-winning Fiesta but you can tell the ADAM shares some of its components with a full R2 spec version. It’s a very positive and solid car to drive and the fully sequential gearbox is a real joy to use. Once I’d built the confidence up it was pretty clear just how impressive these cars are.”


“We are still finalising plans for the rest of the season but it would certainly be great to be back out in the ADAM. It’s been a good start to the year and we are working hard to see if we can make it happen. I have to say a huge thanks to Eddie for a top job in the co-driver’s seat, to Mechanical Solutions for the car, DMACK for some confidence boosting tyres this weekend and of course to our supporters.”

Sam is supported by Mechanical Solutions, The 2300 Club John Easson Award, Calvert Construction, Reis Motorsport Insurance, DMACK Tyres, The Garage at Stanley Mills and Gareth Hooper Motorsport Services.



By sambilham, Mar 20 2018 09:17AM

Reigning Fiesta ST Trophy champion Sam Bilham will make his debut in a Vauxhall ADAM Cup car at the opening round of the Rally2 championship this weekend (24th March), Rally North Wales.


His inaugural event in the new machine will be bolstered by support from leading motorsport tyre manufacturer DMACK who will assist Bilham throughout the 2018 season. The Cumbrian outfit were responsible for providing tyres to the Fiesta Trophy in 2017 and will continue their relationship with the Bingley driver in the Vauxhall.


The 2016 John Easson Award winner has been offered the use of the impressive ADAM by Nigel Lewis, owner of specialist engineering firm Mechanical Solutions. The Nottinghamshire business will back Bilham’s outing in the machine and keeping it in the family, he will be co-driven by F1000 Junior contender Eddie Lewis, son of owner Nigel.


The Dolgellau based event will be Bilham’s first since taking the Fiesta ST Trophy title last season and is eager to compete across some of the stages utilised by the WRC qualifier, Wales Rally GB in the new machine.


Bilham enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2017, taking multiple class and category wins to take the coveted Fiesta trophy with two rounds to spare. After lifting the title, the 21-year old has been searching for the budget to progress his career ever since.


The offer of the ADAM Cup car to contest selected Rally2 events was too good to pass up and he will head to Wales in a bid to learn the car which offers a new driving experience for the Yorkshire man. He is excited by the prospect of competing on world-class stages in the nimble steed.


“We had a small test a few weeks ago but it was simply designed to allow me to get used to the car and the sequential gearbox which is certainly a very new experience for me” says Bilham.


“I think I will learn a lot more in the first few miles of the legendary Dyfi stage though and whilst I’m a little apprehensive, I’m really buzzing to get going. The car handles really well and turns in and stops perfectly. It’s a lot closer to an R2 car which is where I want to progress into so this gives me the perfect opportunity to learn my craft without too much pressure.”


Rally North Wales offers over 42 miles of stages in the Dyfi and Gartheiniog Forest complex and is the first event to utilise the new Rally2WD format. Competitors in the two wheel drive section of the event will leave Dolgellau early on Saturday (24th March) before returning to the town for the rally finish at around lunchtime later that day.


Sam is supported by Mechanical Solutions, The 2300 Club John Easson Award, Calvert Construction, Reis Motorsport Insurance, DMACK Tyres, The Garage at Stanley Mills and Gareth Hooper Motorsport Services.



By sambilham, Feb 1 2018 07:43AM

The 2017 DMACK Fiesta ST Trophy champion Sam Bilham will make his first outing since winning the title last September, taking to the wheel of a Vauxhall ADAM Cup for Rally North Wales (24th March).


Bilham, who has been out of action since taking the title thanks to selling his car, has been offered the use of the Vauxhall for the Dolgellau based event and will be supported by Mechanical Solutions for the outing. He will be co-driven by F1000 Junior contender Eddie Lewis.


The 21-year old from Bingley has long been an ambassador for the F1000 Junior series for 14-17 year olds and after graduating from the championship in 2014, has sought to assist in the progression of youngsters into the sport. Bilham has agreed to co-drive for Lewis on selected events in 2018 and was offered the use of a newly acquired Adam Cup by Eddie’s father, Nigel.


Bilham took charge of the single make Fiesta series in 2017, winning five of the rounds of the six contested but since selling the car in the latter part of the year, has been seeking a budget to take the next step of his career.


He is excited by the opportunity ahead, after admitting an outing behind the wheel this season was looking unlikely due to saving funds for a new machine.


“This really is a fantastic chance to get acclimatised to something more up to date than the old Fiesta ST and I’m very grateful to Nigel (Lewis) for this amazing offer” says Bilham.


“The Fiesta was proven of course, but the Adam Cup has a fully sequential gearbox and whilst it may be lower powered than the ST, it should be a great way to ease my way into one. Ultimately, an R2 car is where I want to be but we don’t have the budget for that at the moment. So I just plan on enjoying the experience and learn as I go.”


Whilst the outing is a one off, he hopes it will ensure he can hit the ground running if he acquires a R2 spec machine in the future.


“The Adam Cup is a great little car and they use them in Europe in a single make series. There isn’t that much between the Cup and a full blown R2 so it will give me a good idea of what lies ahead. I know I have the pace, I proved that last year but the leap into say the British Championship is just too great budget wise. I`d really like to contest the Rally2 championship as it offers a great mix of events plus some night stages too. So for now, I’m heading out to enjoy this and see where it leads ”.


Sam is supported by 2300 Club John Easson Award, Calvert Construction, Reis Motorsport Insurance, The Garage at Stanley Mills and Gareth Hooper Motorsport Services.



By sambilham, Oct 3 2017 08:39AM

Sam Bilham’s return to the Fiesta ST Trophy was scuppered by engine woes, but solid finish secures Junior title.


Bingley rally driver Sam Bilham endured a tough return to the 2017 DMACK Fiesta ST Trophy with engine issues forcing the current champion out of contention for a home win on Trackrod Rally Yorkshire (30th September).


But a fifth-place category finish was enough to add another title to his name, securing the Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series Junior Driver Award at the event.


The 2300 Club John Easson Award winner had already wrapped up the hotly contested single make championship title back in July but headed back out for Bilham’s home rally in the Yorkshire forests without the pressures of a title to contend with. Partnered once again by Cameron Fair, the duo were looking forward to a rather more relaxed day in the super-fast Dalby stages.


It’s been a dream season for the Calvert Construction & Reis Motorsport Insurance backed Fiesta pilot, winning every round of the series he has contested so far. With the season drawing to a close, Bilham was eager to end the year on a high before finalising his plans for 2018.


Bilham kicked off the event with a second fastest time on the opening Langdale test, just four seconds adrift of the leading crew. But his hard work would be undone on stage two as the usually reliable Fiesta developed a misfire and he was forced to limp through the following test at a walking pace, losing almost five minutes in the process.


Back in service, the team were able to trace the issue and duly affected a repair to bring the Championship winning Fiesta back to full health. Bilham was then able to make his charge back up the leaderboard. Setting a class fastest time on his way from seventh to fifth; his result was enough to win the Junior Driver award to add to his already secured Fiesta and Class N3 titles in 2017.


“It’s a bit of a shame we couldn’t have rounded the year off in style but to be fair we have had a pretty much perfect year so I can’t complain,” said Bilham.


“The guys were great in sorting the problem for us and getting us back up and running. It was a nice experience to enjoy the stages without any pressures of a title to go for. It’s not often you can do that when chasing a championship. We didn’t take any risks at all and still managed a fastest time over the last loop which is nice to take away from the weekend.”


Bilham will now look ahead to the closed season to weigh up his options for 2018.


“As I said before the rally, we are looking at all options available to us for next year. We have a budget shortfall to be able to step up into the British Championship so will need to look at how best to use our Fiesta ST Trophy prize drive. We will just have to wait and see what happens now”.


Sam is supported by 2300 Club John Easson Award, Calvert Construction, Reis Motorsport Insurance, The Garage at Stanley Mills, Northern Life Magazine and Gareth Hooper Motorsport Services.

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