Pirelli Star Driver Adam Gould turned in another strong showing on Rally Isle of Man but missed out on a second successive British Rally Championship podium finish after going off the road during Saturday's stages.
Driving his Pirelli-liveried Subaru Impreza WRX, the 22-year-old set an impressive pace through the opening day of this latest round of the British Rally Championship and belied the fact that he'd only visited the island once before - and never in a four-wheel drive car - to post third fastest time on the very first stage, despite not having driven the car at competitive speeds for seven weeks.
That stage time was no mean feat; the Staarvey stage is among the most challenging of the entire route: a classic complete with blind crests, flat-out corners, dips, bumps and compressions.
"Staarvey was always going to be an amazing start to the event, so we decided to go for it,” Gould said. “I wasn't taking big risks, but we were pushing. I was really pleased with the time when we came out at the other end. The car was working well and the notes were perfect. That was one of the things I was a little bit concerned about.
“Last year I came here in a Renault Clio and I thought we were absolutely flying, but this year we were going even quicker. I had no experience, during the recce, of how the car would react. Would it jump or just go light over this crest? How far would we fly at that jump? How would it settle over those bumps? Those were all questions I was still asking myself at the start of SS1."
Six-and-a-half minutes later, Gould had answered most of those questions after picking up rear suspension damage after he clipped a rock buried in the grass on the inside of a corner. Despite the Subaru now demonstrating a crab-like approach to the island roads, Gould still collected third fastest time in SS3.
He dropped to fifth position, but moved back into third place on Saturday morning's opening stage, but five miles into the 17th stage, Gould was just too quick into a right-hander. The car clipped the bank and rolled with the podium challenge coming to an end.
"We were really pushing hard," said Gould. "Newtown was a 20-mile stage and we had to push on, if we hadn't been pushing, we could have dropped 15 or 20 seconds in there wasn't the mileage to get that back before the finish. I was caught out by a fourth-gear corner. I took it in fifth and mid-way through the corner, it tightened slightly. That was it; we understeered into the bank, ran along the bank for a while and then hit something which tipped us into the roll. I think we rolled three times, but, to be honest, I wasn't really counting.
"That was the first time in my life I've rolled a car. Seb and I were both okay, except I had a bit of a stiff neck. I guess I deserved that! I was so frustrated, but I'm not here just to make up the numbers. I wanted third and was doing all I could to get it."