Tuesday, 11th February 2014
Darlington rally driver Paul Swift saw his hopes dashed for a second successive year when mechanical failure saw him retire from this weekend's Legend Fires North West Stages Rally based in Blackpool.
Along with Barnard Castle co-driver Giles Dykes, the former AS Performance North of England Tarmac Rally and Fuchs Titan Race ANCC Stage Rally Tarmac Champion was hoping to banish the demons from last year when he retired early on Saturday in the 2.4 litre Millington Ford Escort Mk2.
Having finished 15th overall back in 2012, the seven times British champion was in confident mood and set tenth fastest time on the opening stage but in an ironic repeat of last year, he spun on the second stage and dropped over 30 seconds meaning he slumped to 48th overall at the overnight halt.
Saturday started with Swift attacking and he set top ten times on the opening loop of stages, including being sixth fastest overall on SS8, to elevate himself to tenth place overall at the halfway point.
Another top eight time on SS13 saw him maintain his top ten placing and with it the lead in his class and all looked to be going well until SS16 when the car suffered clutch problems which proved to be terminal, meaning he had to not only relinquish his overall position, his hopes of a class win were gone too.
A disappointed Paul commented: "I'm beginning to think that I'm jinxed on this event as that's the third time in four attempts that I've retired and every time it's when I'm on for a good result. The car blew an oil seal in the gearbox which found its way onto the clutch and that was game over. We spun on Friday night when we hit some unexpected water on slick tyres and slid sideways into a chicane which caused damage and also cost us some time but we fought back as normal to enjoy a good battle with Damien Cole and James Sharrack. Up until then we had a good battle and had taken no risks and were well into the groove. Giles was doing a great job and I felt we could have had a top five result overall had we kept going. We've lost our lead in the AS Performance North of England Tarmacadam Championship so we will see what happens next. The car needs a good strip down and rebuild so we plan on doing that before we are out again."
Paul would like to thank his sponsors and partners for their help in 2014.
Main Sponsors Smith and Allan Classic Oils www.smithandallan.com Millington Racing Engines www.millingtonengines.co.uk Smart Independent Financial Advisors www.smartifa.co.uk Evalu8d learning and development www.evalu8d.com Carpet Time www.carpet-time.co.uk ION Action Cameras www.iontheaction.co.uk PSI Global www.psiglobal.co.uk Other Partners www.coach2.com James Bean Motorsport Pirelli Tyres www.pirelli.com Cleveland Motorhomes www.clevelandmotorhomes.co.uk Welund Training Solutions www.welundtraining.com Avo Suspension www.avouk.com Follow Paul Swift on the following networks and social media twitter @paulswiftstunts www.youtube.com/paulswiftstunts www.facebook.com/paulswiftstunts
For further information, please visit www.paulswift.com or via Paul Swift Precision Driving, PO Box 116, Darlington, County Durham, DL1 9BT.
Picture attached (courtesy of www.rallyaround.co.uk) Paul Swift in action on the 2014 Legend Fires North West Stages Rally.