by Geoff Mayes

Young London student Melis Charalambous continued his steep learning curve on last weekends Jim Clark International Rally as, in only his second ever closed road rally, the 18-year-old returned to the finish in Kelso ninth in class amongst the British Championship contenders.

Charalambous, who is co-driven by Andrew Roughead in the M-Tec run Subaru Impreza N12, was hampered by only have the opportunity to recce the stages once on Friday morning, due to clashing lectures prior to the rally. This, coupled with his inexperience - the Jim Clark Rally was only the fourth time Melis has made his own pace notes - saw him suffer with a lack of confidence through the high speed corners.

Inconsistent brake feel and handling issues also did not help Charalambous build his confidence and although he completed the event without any major dramas the Subaru did show the signs of a few small indiscretions, including when Charalambous flattened a tree exciting a water splash on Saturday afternoon.

"I think my biggest problem is that I am being too cautious, and too gentle with the car," he said. "I keep making silly errors, but when I have a bit of a go and push on it all flows so much better. This is something I will aim to work on before the next rally.

"To finish on the fringes of the top ten in the British Championship on my second rally in the series is fantastic, and is something I want to repeat.

Whilst Charalambous might have struggled to get into the right mind set he can take heart from the fact that, as well as consistently inside the top 15 in class on this highly competitive rally, he also set no less than four top ten stage times on what is possibly one of the fastest tarmac rallies in the country.

The next round of the 2008 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship is the Isle of Man International Rally in July. Charalambous and Roughead already have prior experience of the tight lanes that make up the bulk of this rally, having recently contested the national rally on the island.