Welshman in lead of the Fiesta Sporting Trophy International
Simon Hughes will be chasing his maiden Fiesta Sporting Trophy International win when he sets off in Sardinia next week for round three of the highly competitive one-make championship.
After two rounds
of the FSTi series Hughes lies in second, just seven points behind current championship leader Barry Clark.
The Welshman, with co-driver Claire Mole, battled several mechanical dramas in Portugal last month to finish just 37.9 seconds off the leader, claiming eight points and leaping from fourth to equal second in the process.
In Portugal the battle with Clark fused for the entire event and Sardinia is shaping up to be another fierce one.
Rally d'Italia Sardegna is set to be a tough rally for FSTi competitors with its sandy, rocky stages and loose rocks lining the side of the road, always causing punctures for the unwary - a common problem in past events. The 342 kilometres of competitive route hosts 18 special stages, 50 percent of which is entirely different to anything driven on in the rally's three-year history.
With no rally action for the 23-year-old since the last round, well over a month ago, it has given him time to thoroughly research the event which he has yet to experience. It has also given his Technium backed team time to fully rebuild the Ford Fiesta ST in preparation for the demanding Italian round of the World Rally Championship.
Hughes has been training hard for this event, running and mountain-biking on a daily basis as part of his physical training programme from the MSA British Rally Academy scheme; a national training scheme for the top young drivers in the UK. This effort and commitment will hopefully enable Hughes to gain the edge on his fellow competitors and break through to win his first International round of the Fiesta series.
"This is a new rally for us but I'm really looking forward to competing in Sardinia and pushing for my first win.
Barry (Clark) is going to be quick, especially with previous experience of the rally, but I think if we have a good clean run and show the pace we had in Portugal we can definitely challenge for the win."
"I've been researching this event quite a lot and feel confident ahead of the start on Friday morning. We haven't competed since Portugal which has given us time to rebuild the Fiesta; it's practically a new car now which will help for Sardinia which is going to be quite rough. Punctures may be an issue but I think if we keep clear of them it will really help our result. We pushed nearly as hard as we could in Portugal and I think it is going to be the same here in Sardinia but I'm confident the car will stand up to the challenge."
"I've been training quite a bit in between rallies; mountain biking three to four nights a week as part of my MSA British Rally Academy training programme and I'm feeling fit and ready to tackle the rally."