Lancashire rallyman Dan Boardman had the best result of his career at the weekend in the three-day International Rally Isle of Man winning his class again by a staggering 12 minutes.

Boardman stormed up the rankings throughout the event finishing 29th overall in the lowest powered class, N1, in his Suzuki Swift 1300 GTi. This was Boardman's second visit to the Island and second consecutive class win - he won the N1 class in May on his Manx debut.

Boardman's priority from the off was to finish the event and the first two stages claimed two top drivers and were cancelled so the cars could be recovered. As such his first stage was the famous night spectator stage that ran through the centre of Castletown and which included Jeremy Clarkson amongst the crowds at the roadside. The crew set a blistering time beating much higher placed cars and went back to the service area for a simple spanner check and then the cars were put in parc-ferme for the evening with a 55 second lead in class.

The second day saw three more cancelled stages as top competitors came off the road. The conditions were changeable in the morning and the crew drove on wet tarmac for the first time, made even more difficult by opting for a slick tyre!

"It was very interesting driving on slicks in the wet but it was a good experience and I enjoyed learning how to cope. That is what a rally is about, driving to the conditions and the car set up that you have," he noted.

The afternoon dried up and thanks to the new Handkook tyres Boardman increased his lead to 5 minutes. By now he was also leading the next class above 1600cc, (N2) and lying second in the 2.0ltr class (N3) and he was determined to keep pushing to beat the 2.0ltr class leader. So far the car's only damage was to the sumpguard bolts, which was caused by a huge jump, referred to as a "car breaker" in the co-drivers pace notes, near Peel. Boardman took the jump flat out which kicked the back of the Suzuki high in the air, landing on the nose of the car and bending the sump guard bolts right back.

The final day was a case of survival and ensuring the car was brought home in one piece. Boardman was not content with leading his class and was pushing to set some good times against the 2.0ltr class leader.

"I was under a lot of pressure to finish the event which I knew I had to do. I was content with a class win but I also would have like to beat everyone in the two classes above," he noted. "They have much more power and experience but if you're competitive you're competitive so if there is someone ahead I want to beat them. After landing in the grass at 100mph off a nasty jump I received a good telling off from Kevin, my co-driver which then prompted a phone call before the last stage of the rally from the team boss, John Kneen, telling me the importance of finishing the event.

"The beginning of the final leg was a little nerve racking as I could hear every squeak and rattle in the car; I would be extremely disappointed if the car was to let me down now. I started the penultimate stage cautiously but after that I was enjoying myself too much to slow down and we set a good time. The final 'Classic' stage was the best of the rally past the famous Brandywell cottage and winding down some very fast and technical roads into Douglas town and across the finish at the TT Grandstand in front of thousands of spectators. That was an amazing feeling! Just brilliant! I can't wait until the next rally."

Boardman went out to win his class on the highest profile event he could enter to raise his profile in the sport and to prove that he has the talent to compete against the best: "Our sponsors are absolutely critical when competing at this level so it is very important that we perform well and finish rallies," he concluded. "It is very satisfying to win the class but to win by 12 minutes and to beat much more powerful machinery, and finishing 29th overall is the best confidence boost I could have.

"It was a long event, and a fine line between finishing and driving quickly, which is a crucial skill, but I felt we struck a great balance throughout. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my sponsors Autobreakers, Rossall School and Lancashire Salvage, and all my family and friends and who have put aside a lot of time and money supporting me in this fabulous sport. It is a huge team effort and it would be completely impossible without them. This weekend has proved how worthwhile it has been and we all look forward to doing much more."

 

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