by Geoff Mayes
Just two and a half years after making his rallying debut Nuneaton resident Matt Beebe has quite literally taken British rallying by storm. After dominating the MG scholarship two years in a row Beebe stepped up to the premier division of British Motorsport for 2006.
Upgrading to an MG ZR160 Beebe knew that the 2006 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship would present his sternest challenge to date, and with new co-driver, the hugely experienced Gemma Price alongside, he had a baptism of fire on the season opening Pirelli International. With no budget available for testing he was initially surprised by the pace of the competition but he soon settled in and set a string of competitive times against the vastly more experienced Justin Dale in a much quicker Renault Clio and was happy to finish second in class with a solid haul of points on the board.
Realising the importance of testing in this competitive championship Beebe and Price competed in the three-day Rally of the Midlands, Matt's home event, as preparation for the string of tarmac rallies that would follow. Despite this being only Beebe's second attempt at the rally he staged a giant killing performance, including a stage win against far superior machinery, and was overjoyed with fourth overall at the end.
Next up was round two of the British Championship, the Jim Clark International, based around the famous racing drivers' home town of Kelso, in South Scotland. Despite struggling with a lack of top end speed over the extremely fast stages Beebe acquitted himself superbly and was in the right place to benefit from Dale's mechanical woes to scoop his first class win of the year.
The Rally Isle of Man marked the halfway point in the 2006 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship and this event really was a trip into the unknown for the team. Wet weather and some of the trickiest roads to be found anywhere in the British Isles would make this Beebe's toughest rally of the year to date.
Despite a couple of lurid spins and a couple of 'moments' Beebe nurtured his clutch less MG to his second successive class win and in doing so moved into the lead in the championship with three rounds still to go.
Next up for the Nuneaton based Beebe is the Phillip White Tyres Ulster Rally, a 125 mile tarmac rally around Ireland this coming weekend. Once again it will be a step into the unknown as he has never competed there before, but the youngster is relishing the opportunity to extend his experience.
"Looking back on the last 8 months it has been a bit of a dream really," he noted. "It was really frustrating at the beginning of the year because we didn't have the budget to test, but since the season began things have been going pretty well.
"The car has run faultlessly and full credit must go to Hankook, PIAA, m3motorsport, and the boys from North Warwickshire and Hinckley College. Of course the biggest thanks must go to my parents, because without their help and support none of this would have been possible!"