Olly Marshall, team boss of ProSpeed Motorsport and a former top-level rally driver, has had to step in at the last moment to rescue journalist Tom Cary's rally challenge.

Marshall has been forced to take the wheel, with Cary navigating, after usual driver, Sky Sports' Tony Jardine, was forced to pull out of next weekend's UTS Cheviot Stages on October 25.

Cary, the F1 correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, is at a critical point of his challenge to qualify as an international rally co-driver, allowing him to take part in two top flight international events. November's Rally Scotland, part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, and February's WRC Swedish Rally are Cary's goals. The novice, who only picked up pace notes for the first time in July, has to finish two more rallies under supervision to gain the valuable upgrade signatures to his national licence.

Whilst Cary was sympathetic to Jardine's call to appear live for Sky, he felt the campaign faltering until Marshall reluctantly stepped in.

"We have just two events left on the schedule that we must finish if I am to qualify, so naturally I felt left in the lurch until Olly kindly stepped in, albeit after a great deal of pressure from within the Castrol team," said Cary. "Time is tight. There is a lot of pressure, not just to learn the ropes in a short amount of time, but also to reach the finish of each event. Otherwise I don't qualify."

Cary gave an example of just how easy it is for the programme to go off the rails: "While I was away on F1 work in Japan, Tony competed in the Colin McRae Stages with the editor of Motor Sport magazine and promptly had a big crash tearing the suspension off our Castrol Fiesta, leaving a lot of chassis straightening work for the ProSpeed team," Cary continued.

"That could have been one of my qualifying events and would have left us in trouble. So I hope Olly will not go mad on the Cheviot Stages, he hasn't driven a rally car in anger for a long time."

The UTS Cheviot Keith Knox Stages is a round of the MSA Tarmac Championship held on ultra-fast, narrow, sealed surfaces on military ranges in Otterburn in the North East. With blind, flat-out crests and many deceptive bends to catch drivers out, there have been some bruising and spectacular accidents over the years. So much so that no spectators are allowed near any of the jumps and are restricted to viewing in just one area.

Tyre supplier to the team and Kumho Tyres chief, Steve Thompson, has been in touch with Marshall who was contracted to Kumho during his own rally career, to wish him luck.

"I think he is a bit nervous, but we talked of the special tarmac tyre requirements for the Cheviot and have dispatched our latest slick and wet weather tyres to reassure him we will be right underneath him and Tom!" Thompson continued.

Marshall has not competed in a rally car since 2005 as he has been concentrating on building up his PoSpeed rally preparation business. However, he has reluctantly agreed to make a return to the cockpit.

"It has been very much last minute, but Tony and our on-event technician Andy Beale from McLaren, felt I had no option but to step in and make sure the Daily Telegraph campaign stayed on track for Tom's sake," Marshall stated. "Although I am very rusty and somewhat nervous, I have assured Tom that I will do my best to at least keep the car on track."

Jardine will be working in Sky Sports studios in London during the early hours of Saturday and Sunday morning (24-25 October) covering the first round of the latest A1GP World Cup of Motorsport taking place at the Gold Coast in Australia. As soon as the transmission ends he intends to race up north to support the team.

"I hope to be out of Sky's studios by early on the Sunday and should arrive in time to support the team and check on progress by lunchtime. Olly and Tom have 100 miles of very fast, deceptive stages to cover, but this will be a cracking test of Tom's pace note delivery to a former top driver. Hopefully it will provide proof that Olly has not lost his touch behind the wheel," Jardine summed-up.



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