The Castrol/Evening Standard pairing of Sky Sports TV presenter Tony Jardine and Evening Standard sports journalist David Smith successfully overcame all obstacles during Wales Rally GB – the final round of the 2008 World Rally Championship – to finish a superb 36th overall and second-in-class.
The team faced challenges throughout the three-day event including treacherous weather, broken suspension and a car that on occasions refused to start. Despite facing the most severe conditions experienced on the rally for the last ten years, which forced officials to shorten all stages on day one and cancel the two runs through Hafren, the team completed a total of 17 stages over the weekend and managed to beat their Turkish counterparts to the runner-up spot in N3.
The media pairing had to work hard to achieve their impressive overall result, with the 2008 edition proving to be one of the toughest rallies in the history of the event. Day one saw the team take on rain and sub-zero temperatures, which gave them a hair-raising moment as they hit black ice, throwing the car into a bank before bouncing back into the road again. Luckily, Jardine kept control and saved the Fiesta from any damage, after which the team made steady progress and worked their way through the field to end the first day 73rd overall.
York-based ProSpeed Motorsport had their work cut out on day two of the event, as Jardine and Smith encountered car trouble. ProSpeed team boss Olly Marshall was called by Jardine just before the first stage of the day when the Fiesta would not start following a routine re-fuelling stop. The car eventually got going after several attempts, allowing the team to resume its push for world championship places.
During the afternoon stages, Jardine and Smith were lucky to have a near-miss, which could have sent them crashing out of the rally as they came around a tight left-hand corner to find the stationary Fiesta of Turkish driver Burcu Cetinkaya sprawled across the road. When the team got to service they faced further trouble, as the car would not start for a second time, leaving the ProSpeed crew frantically looking over it to find the fault with only seconds to spare. Jardine and Smith showed the opposition their sheer determination, however, as they moved into the last podium place by the end of day two, lying 42nd overall.
The final leg of the event ran relatively smoothly for the duo, and during Sunday's first stage through Rheola they moved up to second-in-class, setting them up for a last day battle with 17-year-old rally sensation Tom Cave. On stage two at Port Talbot the Castrol/Evening Standard team pushed with everything they had, taking off in spectacular fashion over a crest, only for a heavy crash-landing to damage the front suspension – but ultimately they still had enough in-hand to maintain the targeted P2.
“I am delighted that they have come away with such a fantastic result,” commented Marshall. “They absolutely deserved it, and it has been wonderful to see David really enjoying the event and getting his teeth into it. Tony drove superbly, and we are extremely impressed with how he dealt with everything that was thrown at him throughout the weekend.”
“This is beyond my wildest dreams,” enthused Smith. “In my job I have been lucky enough to travel the world covering major sporting events and meeting the top stars from international sport, but nothing in my 36-year career as a journalist compares with the sense of achievement I feel at finishing Wales Rally GB.
“My target was to have a top 50 place overall and to try and get into the top five in class, but to finish 36th overall and to take second-in-class to Tom Cave, who looks like he could become the Lewis Hamilton of British rallying, is more than I could ever have dreamed of.”