Russ Thompson’s best result of the season made it a productive day in the stages last Saturday, with fourth overall and second in class taken from a less than straightforward run at the Plains Rally.
Needing a strong result after a disappointing start to the season, it seemed that much-needed boost would elude the 31-year-old after the day’s first loop of stages.
Third fastest in Group N through the first test, yet another punctured tyre, for which the Slaidburn-based driver appears to be a magnet this season, saw him lose valuable time.
Following the lunchtime service break, the challenge only grew in stature, as both class leader Scott Faulkner and second-placed Pat Naylor extended their lead.
While the gap ahead to his nearest quarry grew to 33 seconds, Thompson’s time allowed him to move two places up the overall leader board, before the last two stages swung some luck Thompson’s way.
Setting the fastest Group N times in both, the reigning Production Cup champion’s pace allowed him to slash Naylor’s lead as he ran into mechanical problems, before finishing the job on the final stage of the day.
Sitting fifth overall, Thompson needed to find a further six seconds to pass his long-standing rival and secure a strong points haul, something he achieved with margin to spare as he emerged 14 seconds up at the final control.
And while a successful defence of his 2018 title may prove difficult with only three rounds of the BTRDA season remaining, Saturday’s result keeps Thompson firmly in the fight for the 2019 Welsh Rally Championship.