Following on from his superb fourth place on last month’s Swift Signs Christmas Stages Rally, Darlington precision driver Paul Swift was back in action at the weekend at Croft Circuit, where he went one better to claim third place overall on Sunday’s Autogas 2000/Cartersport Jack Frost Stages Rally.
Along with wife Jessica in the co-driver’s seat, the Jim Bean Motorsport prepared, Millington-engined PSI Global UK, Smith & Allan Classic Oils and Smartifa-backed Ford Escort Mk2 pairing were contesting round four of the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship in association with MSVR as well as the SG Petch ANECCC Championship.
With the first frost of winter arriving the night before, conditions were tricky on the opening stage, but Swift set fifth fastest time before climbing to third place overall on SS2. A pair of top five times on the next two stages saw Paul embroiled in a battle with Scotsman Alan Kirkaldy and co driver Garry Muir, also in a Ford Escort, and at the half way point, just five seconds separated them.
Into the second half of the rally, Swift upped his pace to set third fastest time on SS5 to move into third overall, which he held onto following SS6. With dusk starting to fall, the Swifts continued their good pace on SS7 before a stunning performance on the final stage in darkness saw them second fastest to secure a fantastic third place overall.
The result sees Paul add to his fifth place overall on the Neil Howard Stages Rally at Oulton Park last year to move up the championship standings as well as scoring important points in Class D1 although due to work commitments, Paul is unsure as to which remaining rounds he can contest.
Paul Swift: “That has to be one of the strongest fields we have competed against, certainly at Croft, so I’d class that as one of our best results ever. The conditions were a little tricky early on but we encountered no major problems from start to finish. The improvements we have made to the car recently are paying dividends and having sorted the rear axle out after the previous events and reverting back to our old suspension, it was a lot better. I’d like to pay particular tribute to the marshals who endured the freezing conditions all day and to the organisers, Darlington & DMC for putting on a great event. Work will take priority over the next few months now but I hope to be back out and competing as soon as I possibly can.”
Autogas 2000/Cartersport Jack Frost Stages Rally Results
1 Guy Smith/Patrick Walsh (Ford Focus WRC) 55m 26s, 2 Ashley Field/Fred Field (Darrian T90 GTR+) +25s, 3 Paul Swift/Jessica Swift (Ford Escort) +85s, 4 Alan Kirkaldy/Garry Muir (Ford Escort) +98s, 5 Peter Stephenson/Ian Windress (Ford Focus WRC) +98s, 6 Barry Renwick/Steve Dargan (Proton Millington Satria) +136s, 7 John Stone/Tommi Meadows (Ford Fiesta S2000), 8 David White/Kurt Doane (Subaru Impreza), 9 Steve Quigley/Tom Hutchings (Renault Clio), 10 Alistair Hutchinson/Joe Hutchinson (Renault Clio).
This round of the Motorsport News MSVR Circuit Rally Championship is scheduled to be televised on Motors TV on Friday 5th February at 20:00. Further information can be found at www.paulswift.com/motorsport and Paul would like to thank his 2016 sponsors and partners:
JBM Road & Race Specialists
Millington Racing Engines www.millingtonengines.co.uk
Pirelli Tyres www.pirelli.com
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For further information, please visit www.paulswift.com or via Paul Swift Precision Driving, PO Box 116, Darlington, County Durham, DL1 9BT.
Picture attached: Paul Swift in action on the Autogas 2000/Cartersport Jack Frost Stages Rally (Pictures courtesy of Tony Todd & James Ward/Chicane Media)