by Geoff Mayes
Matt Beebe, Nuneaton's own sporting celebrity, rounded out a highly successful year by winning the 2006 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Champion R3 class despite being the less experienced under dog from the word go.
Beebe, a triple champion already, despite the fact he has only been rallying since 2004, continued to shine in 2006 by producing some stunning drives at the wheel of his older and less powerful Hankook Ventus shod MG ZR160, and aided by mechanical woes for his closest competitor, the former S1600 champion Justin Dale, Matt was able to take two outright class wins (and on tarmac, a surface he was not so familiar with) as well as maximum BRC points in the final round, the prestigious Wales Rally GB.
As well as contesting the British Rally Championship, Beebe also competed on his home event, the three-day Rally of the Midlands, where he and co-driver Gemma Price took their Hankook and PIAA supported MG to a fine class win and fourth overall, taking a fastest stage time along the way when they beat the rally winning Group B Metro 6R4 by 1 second on one stage!
The Isle of Man and the Ulster Rallies both presented Beebe with totally new experiences. Despite a big moment on the International Rally Isle of Man, when he and Price survived a big spin and a broken clutch to win their class the pair were not quite so lucky on the Phillip White Ulster Rally in Ireland when an altercation with a very solid rock face left the little MG in need of a lot of TLC.
Other challenges faced by the pair included an in car fire during the fastest stage of the International Rally of Yorkshire as well as some un conventional 'bush mechanics' when a small pebble was needed to jimmy a fix on the air intake in order to reach the finish. All of these challenges go just a short way to demonstrate Beebe's ability to overcome a variety of obstacles and along with his inherent mechanical sympathy the young service technician was able to continue his 100 per cent reliability record.
"2006 has just been an incredible year. The opening round, the Pirelli was a bit demoralising as we were outpaced by Justin but I think we've worked miracles considering our budget and I cannot thank everyone involved enough," he reflected. "The BRC is the pinnacle of British Rallying and to win this title is very special to me!"
Despite having no firm plans for 2007 yet Beebe is keen to remain in the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship and with his well deserved reputation you can be sure that his competitors will be worried when the new season kicks off in the New Year!