Steve Perez's hopes of a remarkable finish on the Roger Albert Clark Rally expired on the very last stage of the four-day marathon when the engine of the Lancia Stratos blew just a few miles from the end.

After clawing his way back up from 29th on Saturday morning, and despite a melody of mechanical dramas throughout the loops in Yorkshire and Scotland, the Chesterfield businessman along with Scottish co driver Kevin Rae, battled their way up into seventh place going into Monday's final leg in Kielder Forest.

The first four stages of the day went to plan and Perez was looking good to consolidate his position when on the very last test of the rally, and the 18.5-mile Broomylinn stage, the Lancia's engine expired forcing the Kick Energy man out.

Despite the drama, such are the modern day rules that Steve was classified as a finisher due to the 'SupeRally' rules, in tenth position overall and second in class, but in typical sportsman-like fashion, Perez refuted the placing.

"The idea of this fantastic event is to recreate the golden days of the Lombard RAC and if that had happened to me then, then I'd have been a retirement, end of story. The modern day rules have classified us in the results but for me, that's not in the spirit of things as far as I'm concerned," he said.

"What another brilliant event though and congratulations to the organisers who have done a wonderful job. For 99 per cent of the event, we were happy to entertain the massive crowds, especially being one of the few non-Fords in the rally.

"But I feel really, really sorry for our service crew who are more downbeat than Kevin and I. They spilled blood to keep us going throughout the event and we'd not have made it this far if it hadn't been for their fantastic efforts, they are all heroes in my book.

"What it does mean is we now have to come back next year and finish this job off. The car is getting better all the time and is in a fairly de-tuned state at present whilst we've been sorting the reliability issues. With another year's development under our belts, we intend to be competitive right from the start."

The RAC Rally was won by M-Sport boss and Perez's good friend Malcolm Wilson in a Ford Escort and now Perez turns his attention to the modern-format of Britain's round of the World Rally Championship when he contests Wales Rally GB which starts in Cardiff on Thursday December 4.

"I'm transporting myself forward thirty-five years in just three weeks time and that's the next challenge!" he added.



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