Dave Weston Junior impressed his peers with a superb drive on his Ulster International Rally debut last weekend, the penultimate round in the 2009 MSA British Rally Championship.
Putting in times that were worthy of a driver with much more experience of the notorious asphalt roads in Northern Ireland, the 18-year-old spent part of the event running third overall in the BRC points.
“I was surprised with running third myself,” Weston Jr admitted. “I think doing the Stonethrowers and Ravens Rock rallies in Ireland earlier this year really helped me with the Ulster roads. It was a fantastic feeling to find myself in a podium position on my first time doing the event, I just wish we could have kept it that way.”
Sadly the podium position was taken away from Weston Jr and his co-driver Gordon Noble in stage nine, when they lost five minutes, dropping them down to tenth in the BRC points. Leaving the service area to begin SS9 Weston Jr said the brake pedal in his Subaru Impreza went flat to the floor, and he feared his hopes of a first BRC podium finish were gone.
“We only had three brakes and it was making the back wheels lock up when we got into the stage,” he explained. “It was in my mind to take it easier to get through the stages and back to service, but on a downhill left hander we hit a bank. The suspension got bent so we had to limp out of the stage.
“It was extremely disappointing after such a good start to our event, but it was on the same stage that Euan [Thorburn] and Adam [Gould] went out of the rally, so I knew we could still get a good points haul if we managed to keep going.”
With the car fixed Weston Jr and Noble were soon forcing their way back up the score sheets and took fifth overall in the BRC at the end of the rally.
Sitting alongside Weston Jr for the first time this weekend, established co-driver Noble said, “For someone so young he paid a great deal of attention to any advice I gave him. I only had to say something once and you could see he had taken it in and was acting on it.”
The BRC only has one round left to go now, International Rally Yorkshire, which takes place on September 26. Going into the event Weston Jr's Ulster points haul leaves him fourth overall in the BRC points table, and Yorkshire is one BRC round he does have previous experience of.
“Last year I finished fourth overall in the Subaru in Yorkshire,” Weston Jr continued. “With the experience I had there last year and the knowledge I have gained in the BRC this year I am feeling really good about going to the final round.”