Nick Rowland lost his chance of entry into the Pirelli shoot-out competition last week on the Tempest Rally, when brake failure ruined his dominant lead over junior rival Niki Bjerg.
The 19-year-old went into the rally needing to finish ahead of both Ross Forde and Danish driver Niki Bjerg to win the Suzuki Junior title, and with it, entry into the Pirelli BRC shoot-out. A total of ten Swift Cup competitors started the event including works MotoGP rider Loris Capirossi.
The first two stages did not go well for Rowland as he found his Suzuki locking up and sliding around too much in the slippery and wet conditions. The youngster came into the first service in an unsatisfactory sixth place behind the two other juniors.
After changing the damper setting and brake bias the MSA British Rally Academy member found the car much more to his liking and impressively jumped from sixth to second placed Suzuki Cup driver over the next 13 miles of stages - taking over 30 seconds out of Bjerg, to give himself a 24 second lead in the fight for the junior crown.
However the extra speed caused damage to Rowland's Suzuki with the youngster complaining of trouble selecting gears, a bent rear beam and a broken bottom arm. This was no problem for the FX Motorsport squad who overhauled the car without any time penalties.
Rowland's aim now was simply to control the pace of the junior drivers and nurse his 25 second lead to the finish of the rally. Unfortunately the bad luck that has followed him all year came back once again on the next loop of stages when a rock burst the brake pipe leaving the teenager with no brakes at all for the stage. Half a minute was lost as well as his lead over Bjerg.
Rowland once again took more time out of the Danish driver after the final service of the rally, but lost out to Bjerg on the final night stage.
"I have to say I am bitterly disappointed with the outcome of the rally. I tried my hardest as did the whole team, but unfortunately it didn't come together in the end," Rowland reflected.
“Without the brake failure we would have not only won the Pirelli nomination but also have taken our maiden rally win in the series. These things happen though and ultimately there were also some stages I was not fast enough on which would have also changed the result. I just have to learn from it and move on.
"I wish Niki Bjerg the best of luck in the shoot-out. I hope he does the Swift competitors proud! It has been a great year in the Swifts. I hope I can put a programme together for 2009 now although at the moment I have no budget for next year."