Irish brothers Ross and Arron Forde had a tough start to their Fiesta SportTrophy season on season-opening the Malcolm Wilson Rally.

The Galway crew came home eleventh in the series and 55th overall in their Motorsport Ireland and Irish Sports Council-backed M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta on the 45-mile gravel event.

It was the pair's first time on the Cumbria-based rally with Arron able to step in at the last minute to navigate.

The trouble started on stage two when they noticed the power was down and they could only hit a maximum speed of 55 mph.

They reset the ECU on their way into the third test but around three miles in the car lost power again with the issue repeating itself in stage four. At service the crew worked hard to change the fuel pump and examined the ECU and all seemed well on the trip to stage five.

But a new problem arose towards the end of stage five when the brakes began to fade and in stage six they lost all brakes and had to use the handbrake and gearbox to reduce their speeds.

At second service they could not find an obvious fault with the brake system but bled them. On their way to the final test, however, the issue returned and they were relieved to make it through a shortened stage seven to the finish ramp in Cockermouth town centre.

"It wasn't the ideal start to the campaign but we battled on and made it to the end to get a result and some all-important points," Ross said. "It's just the way rallying goes sometimes and it was the first time the car had been out competitively.

"I'd like to thank the Irish Sports Council and Motorsport Ireland for their support. If it wasn't for our service crew from M-Sport and Galway Mini Centre, we wouldn't have made it to the finish so we're really grateful for all the effort they put in.

"We're going testing ahead of the next round so we hopefully won't have any problems next time out."



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