This weekend just gone, #TeamHippo led by Tom Preston took to the Nicky Grist Stages in Wales. The Nicky Grist Stages are considered the most challenging round in the 2016 MSA British Rally Championship.
The conditions were extremely wet and very windy, ensuing that day one of the stage was very slippery. The first day consisted on a 45 miles of gravel in Crychan Halfways, Route 60 and Monument. The second day was a longer stage of 60 miles over the narrow and twisty tarmac roads.
Normally before rally events, the driver take part in a pre-event test in order to get used to the surface. However, our own Tom Preston had to miss his test due to the flu. This meant that his first time driving the Skoda Fabia R5 on tarmac was on the event. You’d think this would put him at a disadvantage. However, with his co-driver Jack Morton, they set the fifth fastest time on the SS5. After completing the gravel and tarmac stages, Tom scored his first BRC Top 10 finish with the new Fabia.
After the stages were complete, Tom said: “We had a good run on the gravel, setting some half decent times. Our only problem coming right at the end when we hit a very big rock in the middle of the road and bent the suspension and broke a rim. I was ill before the start of the event, and had three days in bed, so it wasn’t possible to test the Fabia R5 on Tarmac before we arrived on Epynt.
“Despite this, we set some really good times – in fact, the first five stages on day two went very well. We could have gone quicker, but we didn’t want to throw the car off the road and waste the opportunity of gaining experience of it on Tarmac, and we’re delighted to have come home with a top ten finish.”
Martin Wilkinson, Head of CA1 Sport said of Tom Preston’s drive: “Tom surprised me how quickly he got to grips with the Fabia R5 on Tarmac. He really hadn’t even sat in the car in that spec until Sunday morning, so who knows where his limit is yet!” Not bad for a driver who has been ill for three days before the event.
Tom Preston’s next rally is the Isle of Man Rally starting September 15th-17th.