Matt Edwards took his third podium from four starts in the Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy on Saturday, as a solid performance in the Dumfries and Galloway Forests also reinstated him at the top of the championship leaderboard.
The High Hill Ford, GPM and Silkolene 710 supported driver would take third overall amongst the Fiesta crews on the RSAC Scottish Rally after a day long tussle for position in heat that would test both man and machine to the limit.
The Welshman who prepares his own Fiesta ST, had acknowledged the importance of this event and placed a good finish high on the priority list for improving his title chances, but with the ever competitive Stobart and Keltec rally teams also on the entry list, the 24 year old would be working hard all day long to maintain position.
With co-driver Sam Collis on-board for this event, Edwards would take to the start in Dumfries in good spirits, and with stage times improving throughout the morning to include three top-three stage times, the new pairing would find themselves in second place at the midday service halt.
“We settled into a good rythym from the word go which was testament to a weeks work on the pacenotes from both of us, so there's certainly no problem there,” he noted.
“We are at a good sustainable pace which is the key here to not getting punctures and damaging the car, which is probably about as fast as we can go anyway without taking risks and getting used to the car again after a long break,” added Edwards, who's budget would not stretch to any costly repairs.
With 60 percent of the rally complete, the sting in the tail of the event would be a total of 20 stage miles in the famous Ae forest complex; normally a tough enough challenge in mild conditions, but on this occasion the crews would face continually rising temperatures causing serious dust problems both in and out the cars, as well as increased tyre wear and brake temperatures.
Nevertheless, Edwards and Collis were able to draw on experience of previous events to coax their Fiesta ST through the demanding test to record a third podium finish from Edwards' first four starts in the series - a feat of consistency that saw him regain the championship lead he held after a dominant win on the Bulldog Rally in March.
“This rally has been really tough in many ways,” he continued. “The pace at the front has been frantic and we have had to drive as hard as we can consistently all day to maintain this good position which has been made harder by the heat and dust problems people have been encountering.
“Sam did a cracking job from the off which is testament to his professionalism and I am really please to have regained the championship lead which is in reality against the odds, given our minimal budget and resources compared to the bigger teams. It is very rewarding to be giving them something to think about!”