Co-driver Phil Hall, of Mansfield, endured one of the toughest tests of his career so far when tackling a difficult WRC Rally Mexico alongside fellow Brit, Tom Williams.
Hall headed to Mexico to contest the event in a Ford Fiesta R2 1600cc, in order to gain experience ahead of his challenge in the Junior World Rally Championship.
But the South American event is dubbed one of the hardest on the WRC circuit, thanks to extreme altitudes and severe, rocky stages to contend with, and the duo were unable to finish the race.
“I think I had everything a co-driver could have thrown at them,” said an exhausted Hall. “We did everything possible to get the Fiesta to the end of the rally, but it cut out in the searing heat on the final stage.
“Being so close to the end, we mustered the help of spectators, who helped push the car up the side of a mountain, and then we freewheeled for around four kilometres, which was a unique experience! But I’m gutted we couldn’t make it to the finish ramp.”
The race was in stark contrast to the snowbanks and thick ice of Rally Sweden which Hall experienced last month. This time, the heat in the car rose to 50C degrees as the action started with a whopping 157km test.
Hall knuckled down to guide Williams through the tricky stages and, true to form, they had a productive opening loop during the morning run across the dusty tracks in the mountains.
Sadly, the rising heat proved too much for the Fiesta R2. The car’s electronics overheated, which meant the duo could not complete the first day.
Progress and experience were the aim as the weekend progressed, and more valuable mileage was obtained throughout the stages of day two before the heat again took its toll, forcing the car into limp mode.
At least Hall still had plenty of positives to come out of the week in Mexico. He said: “Of course, it was an extremely challenging rally, but there is no better experience for the future than having to cope with the pressures that Tom and I had.
“We were the quickest two-wheel drive car for most of the rally, so the pace was good. Obviously I`m gutted, but it proved we could come together as a team to overcome the challenges of the rally.”
Hall now turns his attentions to Tour de Corse – Rallye de France, which takes place at the beginning of April.