David Smith will nervously take his seat in the ProSpeed Motorsport-prepared Ford Fiesta ST150 next to driver Tony Jardine at the Cambrian Rally this weekend knowing this is his last chance to qualify for a WRC entry to Wales Rally GB.
The Evening Standard
journalist's hard work and enthusiasm have so far contributed to back-to-back class wins at the Trackrod and Bulldog Rally, but he needs to continue with his new found form and a finish is essential for him to obtain the final licence upgrade signature necessary to enter the World Rally Championship's December season finale.
The Cambrian Rally is a tough event over rough forest tracks with slippery long forest stages, peppered with rocks that are bound to punish the car and certainly test the Castrol / Evening Standard duo.
"It is amazing how this sport can grip you. I have still only competed on two rallies, but already I have upped my target from merely finishing to actually fighting for trophies," said Smith. "On our last event, the Bulldog Rally in the Welsh forests, the working relationship between Tony and myself finally began to click.
"For the first time I felt I was actually contributing to the competitive effort, rather than being a mere passenger enjoying a high-speed thrill, and beating some quality opposition to win our class resulted in a real feeling of satisfaction.
"The danger, of course, is that I assume I've now mastered the dark art of co-driving and everything will be plain sailing on the Cambrian Rally, back in Wales, this weekend. If I needed a warning that rallying can bite, it came on the Bulldog with the sight of cars crewed by far more experienced co-drivers than me lying wrecked or damaged beside the track.
"I know that any mistake I make on the Cambrian is likely to be punished in the biggest way, and that is serving to increase the pressure on me not to let Tony and the hard-working lads of the ProSpeed team down. This is beginning to become a serious business."
This will be the first time that Smith has been to the Cambrian Rally but Jardine's experience of the rally from previous years will certainly help the team across the nine stages in North Wales.
"David's performance on his second ever rally was amazing," Jardine added. "But he now has a huge task in trying to replicate his form. Its like the golfer who thinks he has sorted out his swing and can't find the rhythm again, he has to make sure he is on the ball from the beginning, as I will be going flat out and the risks of making mistakes are high."
ProSpeed Motorsport MD, Olly Marshall meanwhile echoed those thoughts: "David did a fantastic job last time out, he really found a new level within himself. It was a great atmosphere in the team camp during and after the event. We all put a lot of work into it, which we will be doing again for the Cambrian. Although David has probably got used to his winning ways, he now needs to concentrate on the job in hand," he warned. "We essentially need a finish, so that he can get the signature and move on to Wales Rally GB."