Superb finish for Jardine and Smith

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.