The Brean Stages Rally took place on the 28/29 January, this Rally would be Chris' comeback into the Rally world after the massive accident on the Nicky Grist 100. For the event Chris would be back in his Ford Fiesta MS1 that we used back in 2015. The idea of this event was too boost Chris' confidence back up & to get his mind set right, Chris would be Co-Driven by his Father & Team Manager Steve Wheeler. This would be Steve's first ever event Co-Driving so the whole Rally would be a new experience for both of them.
The weather for the event was awful, the rain poured down all weekend making the stages very greasy especially since this event is a single venue around Brean Caravan park, the roads here get used very little all year round.
Saturday Morning, 8:30AM, we were preparing the car for SS1, as time went by Chris's nerves built but he remained looking calm, this would be a moment of truth to see how Chris would deal being back in a rally car & to see if his pace would build back up over the coming stages.
Stage 1 started for the CWR team at 10:25AM, watching Chris pull off the start line was nerve wracking, but Chris soon got into the swing of things. It took Chris & Steve three to four stages to get going & build the pace up which was expected. But the last two stages on Saturday there was a massive difference in the driving, it looked like Chris had found his old self setting in some good stage times.
After day 1 Chris & Steve was in 65th Overall, this was a great start but Chris knew there was more to give & knew he could climb back up the leader board. As Sunday morning dawned the rain just kept falling harder & harder, but Chris woke up feeling eager to get onto the stages. First Stage started, & it was simply like watching a whole new driver, Chris & Steve stepped up to the challenge & out of no where started to push right back up the leader board, with every stage going by we watched the live stage times come up online. Each stage they climbed from 65th, into the 50's, then into the 40's, & as Stage 11 finished Chris got back to 41st Overall with just one more stage to go. If Chris finished where he is then that would of been more than good enough, but as the last stage happened, the push continued, & what a push it was, at the end of the Rally Chris & Steve finished the 2017 Brean Stages Rally 39th Overall out of 101 crews & 10th in Class out of 28. This was against cars with far more horse power than what our Fiesta MS1 has. This was an amazing achievement, our first event back went very well & Chris's confidence came back just like it never went away.
We would like to say a big thank you Neil and Viv from the Pitcrew Online for joining us at the Brean stages, taking brilliant photos and writing up great articles on our weekend. If you would like to read pitcrew online's articles "A weekend with Chris Wheeler" please click the links below.