Media due Tony Jardine and co-driver David Smith from the Evening Standard are set for the second stage of their build up to this year's Wales Rally GB by competing at the 50th annual Bulldog Rally in Shropshire.

Smith requires another signature on his national licence from this event to be able to upgrade to international standard to compete on the famous Wales Rally GB in December.

Smith, who must finish each event to qualify, will take his seat for only his second ever rally beside driver Jardine in the ProSpeed Motorsport prepared Castrol / Evening Standard Ford Fiesta ST150 equipped with the latest Kumho tyres. They must finish this tough event and build on his successful debut after claiming a first in class at the Trackrod Rally in York back in September.

However, if Smith is to navigate Jardine through the tough terrain that the Bulldog offers, to another class win, he will have to switch back into rally mode and remember his training as it is two weeks since his last outing in a rally car.

Smith's introduction to rallying was a relatively easy one at the Trackrod Rally, with the long fast straights, and the 90 rights that the stages offer, but the Bulldog Rally has a completely different set of characteristics that the novice navigator will have to master.

The Bulldog Rally stages have always been used by drivers as a 'shakedown' for Rally GB as the challenging drops, gradients and flow are similar to those which World Rally Championship teams can expect in December.

The Bulldog Rally will be a great learning curve for Smith, and it will also give him an insight into what to expect at Wales Rally GB as some of the 70 stage miles in the daunting mid-Wales forests were once used on that event.

The extremely challenging stages include the test formally known as Dyfi Main, that has an immense 'ski' like drop which has claimed the likes of rallying ace Marcus Dodd, and the Gartheiniog stage, which will require extreme concentration. These stages will now be known as Big Ray and Wolfone in honour of the late 'Big' Ray Lloyd who tragically died in November of last year following a rallying accident.

"My first event sitting alongside Tony, the Trackrod Rally in Yorkshire, was nearly three weeks ago and I've only just got my breath back," said Smith. "The sensation of speeding along gravel tracks with trees flashing by inches from the windscreen was simply awe-inspiring, and now we're going to do it all again in Wales. This time, Tony tells me it will be even more exciting - and gruelling.

"We'll be on some of the classic special stages used by past RAC Rallies and Wales Rally GB World Championship rounds, and they are going to be a real test of our burgeoning driver/co-driver relationship. I made a couple of novice errors on the Trackrod Rally, from which Tony was fortunately able to recover without incurring damage to ourselves or our Castrol / Evening Standard Ford Fiesta. I know I cannot afford to make those same mistakes again, so I've spent the time between rallies carefully revising the lessons I received from my 'mentor' Nicky Grist, acclaimed co-driver to former world champions Juha Kankkunen and the late Colin McRae. I'm beginning to learn the true meaning of pressure."

Andy Beale, a development engineer for McLaren will join forces with York based ProSpeed Motorsport to help the team in preparation for the event.

"The Trackrod was a good event, the team instantly clicked and it showed with the performance we achieved. We want to go to the Bulldog Rally and carry on with our winning ways," he continued. "David has made a good start to the campaign and I know he wants to get better, myself and the team will be doing everything we can to give him the best chance to do so."

Jardine meanwhile has now switched helmet brands to Arai as he was previously impressed with Smith's helmet and fittings. Following their supply to David, Arai will now be supplying the helmets for both Jardine and Smith, whilst Alpinestars continue to provide the overalls.

"It was a real pleasure to work with David on the Trackrod. He approached it with a great deal of professionalism and enthusiasm," added ProSpeed Motorsport boss, Olly Marshall. "Now with the experience of a rally under is belt, I'm sure there is more to come from an already excellent start. I think we have the makings of a genuinely good co-driver.

"This rally is a very demanding one for both driver and car, so David will need to make good use of the skills he has learnt so far and be at his best. The car will take a beating with all the boulder rocks that will be flying, so we will need to be extra vigilant in service."

"The Bulldog Rally runs over some of Britain's finest forest stages often used for World Championship events. They contain every variety of challenges from jump to huge drops and flat out straights," Jardine summed-up. "They are ideal for David's second big rally test as he starts real graft on his delivery of pace note instructions and fervent practice of his navigational skills - we cannot forget this is a crash course and he doesn't have long to get it right."



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