Media pairing finish 36th overall and second in class
The Castrol / Evening Standard team of Sky Sports presenter Tony Jardine and Evening Standard’s David Smith successfully overcame all obstacles at this weekend’s final round of the World Rally Championship (WRC), Wales Rally GB (4-7 December) to finish 36th overall and second in class N3.
The team faced challenges throughout the three-day event including treacherous weather conditions, a broken suspension and a car that on occasions refused to start. Despite facing the most severe conditions experienced on the rally for the last ten years, which forced officials to shorten all stages on day one and cancel two stages at Hafren, the team completed a total of 17 stages over the weekend and managed to beat their Turkish counterparts to second in class. The media pairing had to work hard to achieve their impressive overall result, and this has been one of the toughest rallies in the history of the event.
Day one saw the team take on rain and sub- zero temperatures, which gave them a hair raising moment as they hit black ice, throwing the car into a bank before bouncing back into the road. Luckily, Jardine kept control and saved the Castrol Ford Fiesta from any damage, the team then making steady progress, working their way through the field to finish the first day 73rd overall. York based ProSpeed Motorsport had their work cut out on day two of the event, as Jardine and Smith encountered car trouble.
ProSpeed team boss Olly Marshall was called by Jardine just before the first stage of the day as the Castrol owned Fiesta would not start after a routine refuelling stop. The car eventually started after several attempts allowing the team to start pushing for World Championship places. During the afternoon stages, Jardine and Smith were lucky to have a near miss, which could have sent them crashing out of the rally as they came around a tight left hand corner to see the stationary Fiesta of Turkish driver Burcu Cetinkaya sprawled across the road.
When the team got to service they faced further trouble, as the car would not start for a second time, leaving the ProSpeed crew frantically looking over the car to find the fault with only seconds to spare. Jardine and Smith showed the opposition their sheer determination as they secured the last podium place by the end of day two, also lying 42nd overall. The final leg of the event ran relatively smoothly for Jardine and co-driver Smith, and during the first stage of the day at Rheola they moved up to second in class, setting them up for a last day battle with seventeen year old rally sensation Tom Cave.
On stage two at Port Talbot the Castrol / Evening Standard team pushed with everything they had, taking off in spectacular fashion over a crest, only to have a heavy crash landing damaging the front suspension.
Olly Marshall from ProSpeed praised the efforts of the team and their final result, commenting,
“I am delighted that they have come away with such a fantastic result, they absolutely deserved it, and it has been wonderful to see David really enjoying the event and getting his teeth into it. Tony drove superbly and we are extremely impressed with how he dealt with everything that was thrown at him throughout the weekend.”
David Smith, just before the finish ramp, said,
“This is beyond my wildest dreams. In my job I have been lucky enough to travel the world covering major sporting events and meeting the top stars from international sport, but nothing in my 36 year career as a journalist compares with the sense of achievement I feel at finishing Wales Rally GB. My target was to have a top 50 place overall and to try and get into the top five in class, but to finish 36th overall and to take second in class to Tom Cave, who looks like he could become the Lewis Hamilton of British rallying, is more than I could ever have dreamed of.”
Jardine was just one place away from matching his best ever overall finish in the Rally GB event and said,
“This is a fantastic result and I have to say three massive thank you’s. Firstly to David Smith of the Evening Standard, without whom I wouldn’t have got through the event. His co-driving skills proved to be superb in very demanding conditions. Secondly, Olly Marshall of ProSpeed, Johnny Wareing and Andy Beale for the fabulous preparation and service of the Castrol backed Fiesta which has taken horrendous punishment and came through unscathed. Thirdly, a major thanks to Steve Thompson and Kumho tyres for supplying great product with great grip. The durability of the tyres was demonstrated as we experienced not even a single puncture. This is my second best ever result on Wales Rally GB, I have loved it as much as the other 15 and I will be back for more.”
Sebastian Loeb, already the 2008 World Rally Champion going into Wales Rally GB, gave this year’s final WRC round a dramatic climax as he clinched victory on the final stage, after closing in on Jari-Matti Latvala throughout the gruelling three day event.