Media due Tony Jardine and co-driver David Smith from the Evening Standard
are set for the second stage of their build up to this year's Wales Rally GB by competing at the 50th annual Bulldog Rally in Shropshire.
Smith requires another signature on his national licence from this event to be able to upgrade to international standard to compete on the famous Wales Rally GB in December.
Smith, who must finish each event to qualify, will take his seat for only his second ever rally beside driver Jardine in the ProSpeed Motorsport prepared Castrol / Evening Standard Ford Fiesta ST150 equipped with the latest Kumho tyres. They must finish this tough event and build on his successful debut after claiming a first in class at the Trackrod Rally in York back in September.
However, if Smith is to navigate Jardine through the tough terrain that the Bulldog offers, to another class win, he will have to switch back into rally mode and remember his training as it is two weeks since his last outing in a rally car.
Smith's introduction to rallying was a relatively easy one at the Trackrod Rally, with the long fast straights, and the 90 rights that the stages offer, but the Bulldog Rally has a completely different set of characteristics that the novice navigator will have to master.
The Bulldog Rally stages have always been used by drivers as a 'shakedown' for Rally GB as the challenging drops, gradients and flow are similar to those which World Rally Championship teams can expect in December.
The Bulldog Rally will be a great learning curve for Smith, and it will also give him an insight into what to expect at Wales Rally GB as some of the 70 stage miles in the daunting mid-Wales forests were once used on that event.
The extremely challenging stages include the test formally known as Dyfi Main, that has an immense 'ski' like drop which has claimed the likes of rallying ace Marcus Dodd, and the Gartheiniog stage, which will require extreme concentration. These stages will now be known as Big Ray and Wolfone in honour of the late 'Big' Ray Lloyd who tragically died in November of last year following a rallying accident.
"My first event sitting alongside Tony, the Trackrod Rally in Yorkshire, was nearly three weeks ago and I've only just got my breath back,” said Smith. “The sensation of speeding along gravel tracks with trees flashing by inches from the windscreen was simply awe-inspiring, and now we're going to do it all again in Wales. This time, Tony tells me it will be even more exciting - and gruelling.