Adam Gould has secured his first ever British Rally Championship podium after a fault-free drive on the Jim Clark Rally saw him take home a well-earned third place finish.
Although it was only Gould's first-ever asphalt rally at the wheel of a four-wheel drive car, the 21-year-old didn't put a wheel wrong throughout the two-day event, following on from his excellent fourth overall on the opening round of the British Rally Championship in Wales.
The event already held fond memories for Gould and his co-driver Sebastian Marshall before they even started it, as it was on last year's Jim Clark that they received their Pirelli Star Driver nomination, leading to this year's season in a state-of-the-art Group N Impreza.
Marshall had another big hurdle to overcome prior to this year's event, having returned to Newcastle University to sit some examinations in between the recce last Thursday and the ceremonial start in Edinburgh on Friday evening, leaving Gould to complete the shakedown on his own.
Despite lacking the experience of many more seasoned competitors on the event, Gould demonstrated once more that he was able to mix it at the front and having started off at a good pace, he gradually increased his speed as his confidence grew while still maintaining a comfortable margin of error.
"This is definitely the biggest result of my career so far," he said. "The most encouraging thing about it was that there was a clear progression; we were getting quicker and quicker throughout the second runs on the stages without taking stupid risks. It wasn't entirely perfect as we had a couple of spins that were simply down to inexperience, but we brought the car home without a scratch on it and felt really confident all weekend. The first three events of this season are all about learning, so by the end of the year I hope that we will be closer to the ultimate pace we are aiming for."
Gould and Marshall's result on the Jim Clark Rally will stand them in good stead for the next two rounds of the British Rally Championship, on the Isle of Man and in Northern Ireland, both of which are held on bumpy asphalt.
"It's really encouraging to get this result before two more asphalt events, and the good news is that from what I could see our Subaru should actually be slightly better suited to those two events," Gould added. "I'm hoping to fit in some testing before the Manx, and that should help our prospects as well. It's been a brilliant weekend in Scotland, but there's just one disadvantage to finishing on the podium, which is that there are only two ways to improve on it! And of those two ways, there's only one that I'm really interested in, which is the top step..."