GWENT rallying fan Scott Larder lived his dream at the weekend when he drove in the Wales Rally GB after winning an online competition to join one of the teams.
Scott, 26, a factory worker from Cwmbran, became Rally Team GB’s third driver, taking the wheel of top driver Louise Cook’s Ford Fiesta ST.
It proved to be a baptism of fire.
The stages of Wales Rally GB are among the toughest in the world and Scott only had two-weeks’ experience to draw on.
But despite this, he rose to the occasion and exceeded expectations to complete all three days of the rally, eventually finishing 32nd out of 45 starters.
Learning how to rally and get the Fiesta ST across nine stages of gravel, mud and rock was the biggest challenge of his life.
“It was the stuff of dreams,” he said.
“I was keen to try and get things right for my first outing. I wanted to get the most experience I could.
“I was so nervous when I pulled up to that start line of stage one, Dyfnant, I still could not believe that it was happening.
“It was so difficult, not just the driving, but listening to this new language of pace notes describing the road and then taking in all the coaching that Stefan (driver Stefan Davies) was giving me, it was crazy.
“The second day was better, another three stages complete, but every stage was totally different from the other. It was a lot drier than the first day and each stage had a mixture of rock, fine gravel and tarmac which was very difficult to adapt to, I was really happy to get to the end.”
The last day was further south in the damper forest of the valleys. Some rain overnight meant the ground had become very slick.
“I had a fair idea that it would be hard work to keep the car from sliding too much through the forest. The stages were more like mud tracks,” said Scott.
“My only goal on the rally was to finish the event but when you’re in the car there is so much going on it is easy to forget that.
“The whole weekend was just so surreal, I can’t thank everyone enough for the support that they have given me.
“It was the most amazing experience and one I will never forget.
“I really want to make something of myself as a competitor in this fantastic sport and I have to concentrate on making my own career now for next season.
“I will be working non-stop to find some support and sponsorship to help me start a real rally career so I can put everything I have learned into practice.”