Twenty one year-old rally driver Stevie Brown says the opening round of the Kick Energy Fiesta Sport Trophy Championship, the Malcolm Wilson Rally was the most difficult event of his career to date. The Five Mile Garage supported driver was involved in an accident in the pre-event shakedown on Thursday, when his Ford Fiesta ST experienced brake problems. "I was on the stage getting the car settled in for the event, when about half way through the route I braked but the car didn't respond" explained Stevie. The lack of brakes resulted in Brown hitting an earth bank, damaging the front of the car.
The team worked late into the evening in a race against time to repair the battled scarred Fiesta to make the start of the event. Fellow Kick Energy Fiesta Sport Trophy driver Neil Coalter put hold to his own pre-event preparations to help Stevie ready his car in time. "For sure its not the start to season that I was hoping for, but now we need to focus on getting the car fixed and see what we can do on Saturday in the rally" said the Millers Oils backed driver.
With the efforts of the team, fellow competitors and M-Sport Ford World Rally team technicians the car was repaired in time to start the event on Saturday morning. Stevie and co-driver Martin Forrest were to soon experience further problems when a drive shaft broke as they started the opening stage of the rally. With no service halts the Scottish crew had to complete the first three stages before the service team could replace the broken drive shaft. Brown and Forrest planned to push hard over stage four in a bid to claim back time lost in the earlier stages, a puncture would however end their charge. "We don't seem to be having much luck today" said Stevie. He continues, "There were some really big ruts and holes in that stage and we must have clipped one of them and it punctured the tyre."
The after affects of having negotiated the first three stages with only one wheel drive were taking its toll on the car. "The differential isn't working properly which means we're getting too much wheel spin. The car is really struggling to accelerate which means we're too sideways" explained Brown. Despite transmission woes the LAD Marketing supported driver set third fastest time on stage 6. On the penultimate corner of the final test of the day another puncture would throw Brown and Forrest off the road into a ditch. Thankfully spectators were on hand to help the Scots back onto the road.
Thanks to the service team efforts to repair the car, and Stevie and Martins willpower to never give up, the crew finished the rally and banked some early championship points. Stevie said "It's been a difficult rally for the whole team, but even with transmission problems we've still managed to set some good stage times, and most importantly we managed to bank championship points."
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