It may not have been the most spectacular result of his relatively brief rally career but Darlington's Paul Swift was more than happy with a top 30 placing on the opening round of the REIS/Get Connected MSA Asphalt Rally Championship today.
The season-opening Tour of Epynt, based in Llandovery and consisting of over 80 miles on the notorious military roads, was always going to be a test for the seven-times British champion and professional precision and stunt driver but despite a couple of minor moments, he and Welsh co-driver Stuart Powell came away with a creditable 29th place overall and seventh in class.
After the low cloud had lifted, the 2.0 litre Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800 pairing held 63rd place after the opening seven mile stage but once he was into his pace, Paul climbed inside the top fifty by half distance.
Continuing his progress into the afternoon, Swift, seeded at number 32, upped his speed and mixing caution with aggression, he brought the car home to record a deserved finish on his debut on the event.
Paul commented: "The first priority today was to get to the finish and to very nearly hold our seeding was an extra bonus as Epynt needs treating with the utmost respect. We had a couple of big moments which could have ended in disaster but luck was on our side today. The first time was a steep downhill section with minimal grip and I ended up being wedged on a bridge with a little front and rear end damage and the second time, I had all four wheels on the grass after a blind crest and was very lucky to hit nothing. It's been more good time in the car and I'm happy with our performance for my first time there."
The second round of the 2012 MSA Asphalt Rally Championship takes place with the Manx National Rally in the Isle of Man in May but at present, Swift is unsure as to whether he will be able to contest the event scheduled for May 11/12th.
"We still have to find the budget to do that rally but I'm hopeful that we can find the necessary finances to be on the start line as it's a unique event and one which would suit the car very well," said Paul.
Paul would like to thank his sponsors and partners for their help and looks forward to another successful season in 2012.