Persistence Pays for Paul Tod South Wales driver Paul Tod's dogged determination paid off on the weekend, as he achieved two fastest stage times and recorded a fourth place finish in the Stilo Cup, despite completing over 40 miles of the 83 mile...
Persistence Pays for Paul Tod
South Wales driver Paul Tod's dogged determination paid off on the weekend, as he achieved two fastest stage times and recorded a fourth place finish in the Stilo Cup, despite completing over 40 miles of the 83 mile Scottish International Rally stuck in second gear.
The Scottish Rally was the third round of the Fiat Stilo Rally Cup, and the Kwik Fit Pirelli British Rally Championship (BRC) using ten stages on the fast and flowing tracks of the Dumfries and Galloway Forests. Dumfries, the rally's base, went mad for the event, with crowds filling the start and finish venue, right in the centre of the town.
The Friday evening start of the two-day event consisted of two runs through the Ae South stage, split by a spectator stage on the outskirts of Dumfries. Paul was on fire but had two heart-stopping moments early in the first stage, once sliding sideways through a ditch, facing the wrong way for the on-coming bend, and about a mile later, hitting a hidden obstacle on the inside of a right-hander, and launching the car onto two wheels at about 85 mph! Despite this and a half spin on the second stage, he was on the pace, and finished the evening in third position, preparing for a charge on Saturday.
The team's plans went awry on SS4, the first stage of the second leg. The car was handling well on the fast stages, with big jumps and crests testing the suspension to the limit. Then, after a first gear right hand hairpin, as Tod tried to accelerate away, he found that he was unable to get out of second gear. Despite his best efforts on the link section to the next stage, he was unable to release it, and had to complete the fifth test still stuck in gear. Even the efforts of the service crew couldn't cure the problem, and Paul had to call on every ounce of his determination and mechanical sympathy to nurse the Stilo through another 27 miles of stages, including the fastest stage of the rally, with only one gear. That the car survived is testament to Paul's skill and the strength of the Stilo engine.
And patience through the frustration of the day paid off. With 3 stages left, the service crew managed to release the selector, and Paul was given the chance to show a little of his talent. He set two fastest times, and was fastest Stilo by 30 seconds over the last three stages.
"We are happy after those three stages," says Paul. "We needed to prove a point this weekend, and two fastest times go some way to doing that. We were on the pace on Friday evening, despite a horribly public half spin when some ruts caught us out at the water splash on the spectator stage. We were confident going into Saturday morning that we could do what was needed, and for the first three miles or so of the stage, we were doing just that.
"To drive through those stages in second was frustrating. It can be quite hard to motivate yourself when you've had a problem for much of the day, so I was pleased that I was able to get straight back on the pace when I had gears back. To be thirty seconds quicker than the fastest of the other Stilos over three stages gives a big boost to morale - we are looking forward to the Jim Clark now, though it's a pity to have to leave the gravel rallies for a while!"
The team return to Scotland for the next round of the Fiat Stilo Cup, Kelso's Jim Clark Memorial Rally on the 2/3 July. More information about the team's season can be found at the new format www.PTRallying.co.uk