by Geoff Mayes

Melis Charalambous enjoyed a successful outing on the Bulldog National Rally last weekend, bringing his production class Subaru Impreza N12 home inside the top ten in class and setting some very competitive times throughout the day.

The 18-year-old, who was co-driven by Welshman Marc Crisp in the 'The Press' backed Subaru, had been looking forward to this rally for quite some time and with his Group N rally car recently converted to left hand drive he was keen to see if the driving position really mattered.

A lack of rear brakes made the car a handful to drive for the opening two stages and the North London-based man was frustrated with the time loss which saw him languishing in 29th position overall at the first service.

With the brakes restored though, Charalambous set about regaining some of the lost time and was immediately on the pace. Despite two spins in stage three a top-fifteen overall time was promising, and this was then followed up with another top twenty stage time on the very next stage, despite running for most of this test with a punctured tyre.

On Stage five, the penultimate test, Melis really found his groove and, with the onset of rain, revelled in the tricky conditions, setting a time a mere five seconds slower than David Bogie through the stage. Considering David is the newly crowned Production class champion it is no small feat for Melis to be within a second a mile of the experienced Scot on such a tricky event.

Another strong run through the final stage, Dyfnant, saw Melis and Marc return to Oswestry in sixteenth overall and ninth in class.

"I really enjoyed today. The first loop of stages was difficult with no rear brakes, but once that was sorted and I had my head in gear the rest of the day went well. The car is now left hand drive and it was great, I didn't have to think about what I was doing, it all just happened naturally," he reflected.

"I know there is a lot more speed in me as I drove well within my limits today so I am very encouraged by it all."

The next event for Charalambous will be the Cambrian Rally in two weeks time. Until then the teenager will continue with his driver tuition with Bill Gwynne as he aims to further improve his driving.