HUNMANBY-based co-driver Jim Goodman and his partner Huw James produced a top display to finish runners-up at the AGBO Stages Rally.
A 1.45am start on Saturday morning from Aberystwyth in time to reach Weston Park for 5.00am was not ideal.
Goodman said: “My driver Huw had just refitted the gearbox the day before and we would have a real battle with the 2.5 litre Mk2 of last years winners Oliver and Ben Davies.”
Weston Park has flat out bends, chicanes, a jump over the bridge and even a water splash and the event consists of five stages run twice each.
Goodman added: “Huw put the extra power to good use on stage one to tie for the lead with Davies and the Darrian T9 of Gareth Richards just a second behind.
“We moved into the outright lead on stage two, beating our previous time by two seconds, so the stage was set for the usual ‘Battle of Weston Park.’
“Gareth led by a second after stage three with us dropping down to third just a second behind Oliver and Ben when we slightly overshot a hairpin due to late handbraking and the fourth placed car slowly drifted into the background - already 17 seconds down.
“By now Huw was really on it and after four stages we were again tying for the lead with Oliver and Ben and Gareth still in pursuit.
“Unfortunately an engine sensor failed and he retired after stage six, leaving the two of us to scrap it out for victory.”
Stages five and six were partly reversed with a different second half and the same exit from the park down a narrow lane which is lined with massive trees, not for the faint hearted.
Goodman said: “Going into stage five it was still a dead heat but on the second run we lost one to Oliver and that’s how it stayed until the very last stage with us doing identical times on seven, eight and nine.
“On stage six a Peugeot clouted the bridge and we were told that from then on we had be very steady over the bridge as there was fear that vibration might cause more damage, a 20-30mph limit was put in place.
“After stage seven the clerk of the course came to see me and told me that the judge who they had placed there had radioed through to say that we were all four off over the bridge and that if we did it again he would have no option but to exclude us.
“I told Huw that on the three remaining stages we must come through the chicane in the courtyard, up to the bridge and a quick dab on the brakes with the left foot to bring the brake lights on and momentarily lower the revs just before the crest.
“It worked and the clerk came back to tell me he was happy with that.
“So to the last stage and it was broadcast over the radio system that there was just one second between us going into it.
“I think that we lost it through the water splash as on the first run, we sent water everywhere but this time Huw was steadier and as we exited the loop through the water splash and back onto the main track, I somehow knew we had lost the fight.
“Come the finish line and Oliver had beaten us by two seconds to win by three. A bitter disappointment after such a tussle all day, but I can’t complain at finishing runners-up on en event which is so closely fought.
“I will definitely be going back with Huw again next year and I’ll keep on going until I win it.”