“Ir­ish ral­ly­ing rues higher pre­mi­ums”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - Grizedale Stages, p22 Pho­tos: chas­ingth­e­

Freshly-crowned MSA English Rally cham­pion Sam Bilham has be­come the lat­est driver to win the 2300 Club John Easson Award, giv­ing the York­shire driver £5000 to­wards en­tries in 2017.

The 21-year-old was given the 2017 award, which is given to the driver who the judges be­lieve will ben­e­fit from the fund­ing the most and rep­re­sent the award the best. Pre­vi­ous win­ners in­clude Euro­pean two-wheeldrive cham­pion Chris In­gram and reign­ing Drive DMACK Fi­esta Tro­phy WRC cham­pion Osian Pryce.

Bilham is yet to an­nounce pub­licly where he will be com­pet­ing next year, but the prize money is key to achiev­ing his goals.

“The award al­lows me the op­por­tu­nity to move for­ward,” said Bilham. “When you look down the list there’s a lot of suc­cess­ful driv­ers who, if you like, were at my level at the time. Since then they’ve gone up and up so it’s great to be in­cluded.”

Bilham won the fi­nal round of the in­au­gu­ral Fi­esta ST Tro­phy on the Track­rod, af­ter his first year in a left-hand-drive car. The York­shire­man com­peted in the Ju­nior For­mula 1000 from 20112013, be­fore two years in the BTRDA in a Nis­san Micra.

Af­ter be­ing se­lected as the win­ner by na­tional com­peti­tor John Cope, co-driver Jimmy Mcrae and MN’S Jack Benyon, Bilham is look­ing to pub­li­cise the award as grat­i­fi­ca­tion of the help it will pro­vide for his ca­reer.

“Any­thing that I can do to help pro­mote the award I’m happy to do.

“I wouldn’t be do­ing much next year with­out the money, the year would look a lot dif­fer­ent and it’s mas­sively im­por­tant for my ca­reer mov­ing for­ward.”

Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship com­peti­tor Meirion Evans and Bilham’s fel­low ST Tro­phy com­peti­tor Ge­orge Le­p­ley were the other fi­nal­ists. Both im­pressed the judg­ing panel.

Bilham com­peted in ST Tro­phy this year

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