Russ Thompson recorded his fifth consecutive top 10 finish with a solid fifth place at the Rainworth Skoda Forest Rally in Nottinghamshire earlier this month, with the Ribble Valley rally ace feeling he made a further step forward in terms of performance.
With a number of the ex-World Rally Cars that dominate the top of the event standings absent, Thompson and co-driver Andy Murphy were confident of solidifying their standing at the head of the Gold Star and Production Cup standings.
The pair kicked off their day brilliantly, setting the sixth fastest time overall through the first stage and the fastest in their class. They followed this up with an equal fifth fastest overall on stage two and joint fastest in class.
Dropping a position on the leaderboard to rival Jamie Anderson, Thompson took up his familiar position of pursuing Pat Naylor for class honours.
By mid-morning, the heavens had opened, turning the stages into a boggy mess that crews were unable to push for times on, resulting in few changes of position.
Across the rest of the day’s competitive mileage, Thompson acquitted himself well and although counting the cost of some small mistakes, the 26-year-old finished behind the more experienced Naylor by 30 seconds, half the deficit of previous rounds.
“It was good to be back on the class podium after missing out on the last couple of events and it’s obviously good that we’ve extended the lead a little at the top of the standings”, said Thompson.
“We had five or six overshoots and stalls in the morning and it cost us a bit of time, but we tidied things up in the afternoon and were right on the pace of the two Group N cars ahead of us.
”To do that on what is those crews’ local event was really good and gives Andy and myself real reasons to be optimistic.”
Thompson has now extended his lead at the top of the BTRDA Production Cup to 17 points and continues to lead the main Gold Star series and should be considered a real championship threat.
Russ’ next event takes place on July 12th on the Nicky Grist stages in Builth Wells, Wales.