Adam Gould emerged victorious from one of the most difficult weeks of his motorsport career to finish third on Saturday's Bulldog International Rally of North Wales despite an astonishing array of setbacks.
Last year's Pirelli Star Driver, who also contested Rally of Scotland in a factory Peugeot 207 S2000 with the BFGoodrich Drivers' Team, spent the off season searching for sponsorship ahead of this year's Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship. But when he couldn't find a backer he decided to bankroll the Welshpool-based opening round himself.
Gould's last-minute entry was accepted, but by then his regular co-driver Sebastian Marshall had agreed to compete with somebody else, forcing the 22-year-old to find another navigator. Craig Drew stepped forward and introduced himself to Gould just hours before the recce.
In the days before the recce, Gould had been holed up at TEG Sport's premises working through the night to get his Subaru Impreza ready for scrutineering. Testing the car briefly ahead of the event, a front damper then broke on the car, pitching him off the road at 100mph. Gould was then faced with finding a replacement damper with just a day to go before he was scheduled to go over the start ramp. The re-built part arrived back from Exeter-based suspension specialist Exe-TC in time for the start. Just.
Unfortunately, Gould's problems weren't over, but his luck was starting to change. His 1200cc Renault Clio recce car cried enough outside his bed and breakfast in Welshpool while, on the morning of the rally, his landlady allowed him to leave his bags as a deposit while he went out, did the rally, and then borrowed some more money to pay her what he owed.
Once the opening round of Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship got underway, Gould was much happier and set reasonable times. An initial seventh overall became sixth and sixth became fourth as he settled down and stopped worrying about the fact that the only spares he had were a set of windscreen wiper blades.
When Alastair Fisher retired from second place on the final loop, Gould and Drew were onto the podium. But, just when they were eyeing up what would have been a career-best runners-up spot, misfortune struck.
"We were going into the long Dyfi stage when I was aware that my seat was getting wet!" said Gould. "The intercooler spray pipe had split and the water was pouring into my lap."
Uncomfortable as this might have been, the knock-on problem cost Gould his chance of second. Without the water spray, the engine started to overheat, knocking the turbo's anti-lag system off.