by Geoff Mayes
Stephen Petch Junior heads to Mid Wales this weekend for the Bulldog Rally, the final round of the 2008 MSA Pirelli Gravel Rally Championship, in confident spirits and looking forward to a strong end to his season.
The 24-year-old has experienced a mixed first season at the top level of national rallying but regardless of the problems he has encountered, the reigning Evo Challenge Junior champion has enjoyed the opportunity to tackle some of the best rally stages in the country on board his SG Petch Motorsport-run Hyundai Accent World Rally Car.
Last time out, on the Trackrod Rally, the County Durham-based man was not only 'rusty', having not competed during the summer break, but he was also debuting a new 'paddle shift' gear change system on the car.
Whilst this took time for young 'Petchie' to get used to he felt confident that the new system would help him find more speed in both himself and the car.
"The new gear change system is great, but it took me a bit of time to get used to. I'm pretty confident that, once I'm used to it, I'll be a bit quicker," he confirmed. "The Bulldog has had mixed results for me in the past, but I love the stages and hope we can have a clean run this weekend."