by Geoff Mayes

Melis Charalambous was happy with his first ever tarmac rally, the treacherous RBS Manx International Rally, despite ultimately retiring with differential problems on Saturday.

The 19-year-old, who is contesting the entire Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship, was competing on this rally in order to gain tarmac experience, and as a result was just aiming for a cautious run in the Press-backed Subaru Impreza.

With no pre-event testing youngster found he had underestimated the level of grip and was braking too early for corners. As the evening progressed and his confidence built so his pace increased and Charalambous, who is co-driven by British Rally academy member Andrew Roughead, ended day one lying seventeenth in class.

Although overnight rain meant day two began with patches of water on the roads it soon dried up, but crews had to be careful of slippery sections in the trees, and a number of competitors were caught out.

Charalambous did well to avoid any moments or overshoots all morning and with his pace consistently improving the M-Tec Developments run Subaru was climbing the leaderboard. However a problem with the differential developed over the course of the morning and eventually the crew chose to retire to save further damage to the transmission, posting their first ever retirement in the car.

"Whilst I'm disappointed we had to retire, I'm very happy with our weekend. I came here not knowing what to expect and was amazed at the level of grip and strength of the brakes," he noted.

"Andrew, my co-driver, assisted me a lot with advice during the recce, and I really enjoyed my first taste of tarmac rallying. Now I cannot wait for the Jim Clark International Rally."