Jardine and Smith battle through

 hazardous conditions  

 Castrol / Evening Standard team make top 50 on day one of Smith’s WRC debut

Evening Standard journalist David Smith’s ambition to make his World Rally Championship (WRC) debut was realised yesterday, as he strapped himself into the Castrol / Evening Standard Ford Fiesta next  to  driver  Tony  Jardine  for  the  ride  of  his  life,  at  this  year’s  final  round  of  the  championship, Wales Rally GB (4-7 December).

FIA officials on the eve of the rally announced that most of the stages on day one would have to be shortened due to bad weather conditions, which meant both Smith and Jardine had to spend the evening  with  team  boss  Olly  Marshall  going  over  road  books  and  pacenotes  revising  all  their timings. Journalist Smith who was raring to take on the Welsh forests then woke up to find out that the first stage had been cancelled.

The  Castrol  /  Evening  Standard  team  saw  limited  action  in  the  morning  due  to the icy conditions which caused special stage one at Hafren, which would have also been repeated as stage four, to be  cancelled.  The  media  pairing  eventually  set  off  on  their  first  stage  (special  stage  two)  of  the event  to  tackle  the  hazardous  conditions,  successfully  completing  it  lying  in  73rd  overall. 

 Special stage  three  highlighted  to  the  media  duo  the  challenges  that  lay  ahead  and  that  the  stages  of national rallies are nothing compared to those at World Rally level, as they hit black ice but luckily kept control, not damaging the car.

After  coming  through  the  remote  service,  crewed  by  York  based  ProSpeed  Motorsport,  the  team continued to progress through the afternoon stages, including the famous Walters Arena, and with each stage found themselves climbing through the field. At the end of the final stage of the day, Jardine and Smith clocked in at an impressive 47th overall and a well deserved third in class.

Jardine said, “It has been treacherous because you don’t know what’s  around  the  next  corner,  one  minute  you’ve  got  grip,  the  next  minute  you’re  slithering  on black ice. Even before we got to the first stage we lost control on an icy downhill section, hit a bank and bounced back into the road. There have been dramas all day, but finally we enjoyed a brilliant stage  in  the  mist  and  ice  of  Myherin,  even  dodging  two  stranded rally cars in the ford to make it back to Swansea. David has been sensational.”

Smith commented, “Absolutely awesome. I’ve been preparing for this for three months but nothing I’ve  done  leading  up  to  this  rally  has  compared  to  what  we  have  experienced  today.  I’m  just  a novice at this game and I now have new found admiration for the professionals who tackle the most perilous of conditions far faster than we do. Having said that, I am totally in awe of Tony who has trusted  me  every  mile  of  the  way.  He  has  driven  brilliantly  and I can’t wait to get back in the car tomorrow.”

The   Castrol   /   Evening   Standard   team   will   be   looking   to   consolidate   and   improve   on   their performance today, starting day two with the demanding Resolfen stage. The team will then finish the second leg of the event in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.