Kick Energy rally driver Steve Perez claimed a career best eighth place on the event following the conclusion of the 2011 Roger Albert Clark Rally in Carlisle.
Along with Welsh co driver Paul Spooner, the Chesterfield ace completed the final stage in their BTR-prepared Lancia Stratos, setting third fastest time in the process, as heavy snow caused havoc on the final day of the four-day marathon and caused the final stage of the event to be cancelled.
Tenth overnight and following problems in the fog and darkness of yesterday evening, the 2003 British Historic, 2004 National ANCRO and 2010 BTRDA champion was confident of a good showing on today’s final two tests in Kershope and with conditions prevailing which were similar to last year, Perez upped the pace on the snow-bound tracks to climb into eighth place on the leaderboard and claim a class victory in the process.
However, any hopes of further progression were halted as organisers had to cancel the second run through Kershope due to delays and in order to keep on schedule for the ceremonial finish in Carlisle but despite this Perez had done enough to claim a class victory.
The result sees Steve, a staunch supporter of the event, record his best ever RAC Rally finish having contested every event since its inauguration by De Lacy Motor Club in 2004.
On the very first event in a Porsche 911, Steve retired in Kielder forest late on when in contention for fifth place. 2005 saw him make his debut in the Lancia but retired after SS10 but claimed an 18th place finish in the iconic Italian car in 2006.
Another retirement, this time after only four stages heralded the end of his 2007 campaign but a tenth place was achieved in 2008 followed by 20th in 2009 and 17th in last year’s ice and snow.
The finish ramp in Carlisle concluded a mammoth two weeks of rallying for Steve who returned home after the gruelling Kenya Airways East African Classic Safari Rally, whereby he finished fifth in the Kick Rally Team Datsun, to contest the RAC Rally within 48 hours.
“What a fortnight! Fifth in the Safari Rally and now a top eight on the RAC Rally, I’m absolutely shattered but delighted.
“We have gone from mud, dust and sand and 34 degrees to ice, snow and rain and minus zero temperatures in two different cars on two different continents in two different weeks!
“I’ve learned so much about driving and today was difficult although I was disappointed we didn’t get to do the final stage as we may have finished higher.
“To be the first non Ford home is a remarkable achievement and all credit to the BTR team who have done another fantastic job on both events.
“Thanks to the fans, marshals and to the organisers too for another wonderful event, I have now had all my cars immobilised and been told I’m not allowed to do anything for the next two months!”
Steve Perez is pictured at the wheel of his Lancia Stratos.