Before we go any further with this new blog on my adventures in the world of club rallying, I’d like to clear something up. I’m not the sporty type. I can’t run fast and at school I was rubbish at football and rugby. I could barely blag my way through a game of cricket and lived in terror of the annual sports day. Despite my job, I’m not even a dedicated follower of motorsport. 

So now that’s out of the way, how come I’m hooked on the ‘sport’ of rallying? The reason is simple. It’s the best way I’ve ever found to have fun behind the wheel of a car, in fact it’s utterly intoxicating.

I’ve had a go at various things over the years from 12 car rallies to saloon car racing, but now I’m fortunate enough to be rallying again in the car I’ve always coveted most, a Group 4 Mk2 Escort. 

In January, co-driver Dave Jones and I tackled the MGJ Brands Hatch Winter Stages, a one day, single venue, tarmac event. Single venue events are more affordable than two or three day rallies and unlike gravel, sealed surface doesn’t subject a car’s body shell to premature death by extreme shot blasting.

When the day dawned, I’d barely finished a refurb on the Mk2 that took most of last year and a lot of hard graft. Part of that included raising the power of the 2.0-litre JRE Vauxhall C20XE engine from 261bhp to engine builder JRE’s ‘ultimate spec’ of 291bhp.