Andrew Hockridge has declared himself happy after finishing last weekends Wales Rally GB, his first ever world rally, second amongst the Citroen C2R2s on what was arguably the toughest rally he has ever faced.
Hockridge and co-driver Rich Mills began the event still in with a chance at winning the championship but lost their advantage at a river crossing on Friday afternoon when the engine ingested water and they lost nearly 15 minutes whilst they rectified the problem.
However the adventures had begun even before then. Sub zero temperatures in the days prior to the rally had left the roads covered in ice and the organisers had no option but to cancel the first stage of the rally. Such were the conditions that the Gino's Pizza Cheese backed Citroen actually failed to make it to the start of the second stage and had to be towed up a hill by a Land Rover, incurring penalties before the day had even begun.
With the rally counting as two rounds of the British Championship, Hockridge returned to Swansea at the end of day one thinking that his title hopes were already destroyed, but discovered that he had finished the day in second position, picking up some very useful points.
The second morning dawned just as icy and the Geoff Jones Motorsport run C2R2 made it through the majority of the day without any major dramas but a patch of black ice on the last forest stage saw the GRH Foods supported car slide into a ditch, costing them more time.
Day three was all about surviving and with the conditions as tricky as ever, Hockridge had to keep his wits about him, but a relatively untroubled run saw the pair return to Cardiff for the ceremonial finish, having survived snow, ice and blinding sunlight and after three days and over 200 kilometres of hard rallying.
“At the beginning of the year, if you had offered me second overall in the championship I would have laughed at you,” Hockridge admitted. “So to be here at the end of Wales Rally GB with six podiums to my name and second in the title race is amazing
“Well done to Jason and George on the win and a massive thanks to Geoff Jones Motorsport for giving me a great car.”
At present, Hockridge is evaluating his options for 2009 but has not discounted a return to the British Championship.
by Geoff Mayes