Following his top six placing on the previous round in Wales, Ross Forde took a fine fifth place on the Pirelli Challenge, which saw round three of the Kick Energy Fiesta Sport Trophy UK take place in Kielder Forest.

Driving the Motorsport Ireland and Irish Sports Council-backed Ford Fiesta, Forde and co-driver Gary McElhinney were contesting the two-day event, which got underway with a pair of Friday night stages in Kershope Forest before a loop through around Kielder Water the following day.

With a calculated drive, Forde reached the end of the Fiesta Trophy element of the Carlisle-based event in fifth to record his best finish of the series so far although such is the closeness of the competition; he dropped to seventh in the title standings.

The Irishmen then continued in the Pirelli International Rally whereby they overcame a late puncture to claim fifth in class after the gruelling event.

"The event started well with the two night stages on Friday, but from the recce we noticed the first two stages were very rough so we decided to stay on the cautious side and not get any punctures which was the case but we lost too much time," he said. "Day two started better and we were getting consistently quicker and we were having a good battle with Barry Greer for fourth place. I was very happy with Gary calling the notes and we have gelled very well and looking forward to the next round.

"In service we changed the suspension settings to help the handling of the car in the very high speed stages which helped for the second loop, but unfortunately with the three out of the last four stages being cancelled we ran out of time meaning we ended up fifth in the Fiesta Trophy.

"We were then up to third in the International with two stages to go, we put a big push on but unfortunately we suffered a rear puncture and dropped a lot of time on stage eleven which dropped us back to fifth in the R3 class. Overall, I'm happy with the result but hoping to improve in the next round."