Warwick driver Matthew Jackson made a successful return to action at the Cambrian Rally, the opening race in the BTRDA Championship.
Taking the wheel of his home-prepared Nissan Micra alongside co-driver Claire Williams, Jackson kicked off the 2016 campaign in the scenic seaside town of Llandudno, north Wales.
The challenging Cambrian Rally tested crews over 45 miles of classic Welsh gravel stages and with chronic engine problems having dogged the pair over the previous 12 months, they were understandably anxious ahead of the event.
However, the nerves were soon settled and the cobwebs blown away on the opening stages.
An overshoot, an excursion into a ditch and catching a slower competitor kept them on their toes and they entered the midday service lying fourth within the 1400cc category.
The afternoon stages would prove even more challenging and with their first gravel rally finish since September 2014 within touching distance, the pair opted to approach the latter stages with a degree of caution.
Despite sacrificing seconds on their stage times the pair successfully managed to get their car to the last stage, albeit with minor damage after heavy impact with a loose rock.
The final stage - the only tarmac stage of the rally - took in the breathtaking views along the north Welsh coastline along the Great Orme road in Llandudno and there was both relief and delight as the young crew brought their Nissan Micra safely over the finish line to secure not only a finish, but their best result to date with second position within class and third 1400cc overall.
Their weekend was nicely topped off with further accolades as they were presented with the best mixed crew award and first ANWCC Championship crew by the president of North Wales Car Club.
Williams also took an early lead in the BTRDA Championship female category.
“We are simply ecstatic,” said Jackson.
“We aimed for a finish and got so much more.
“Of course, there are a lot of lessons we can take from this and hopefully build on for the remainder of the year.
“The aim was to complete the event which we have successfully done.
“We now look forward to improving the pace for the next event.”
The duo will be looking to capitalise on their early points haul when they head to Ford World Rally Team headquarters in the Lake District for the Malcolm Wilson Rally on March 12.
For more information on the team, visit www.matthewjacksonrallying.co.uk or follow them on Twitter @MJRallying