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This weekends Rally of the Midlands proved once again that young Nuneaton resident Matt Beebe is a star of the future after putting in arguably the drive of the weekend by usurping far more powerful machinery on his way to winning Group N and finishing a very impressive 4th overall after 100 miles of tough tarmac rallying.
Matt, co-driven by the experienced Gemma Price, was using the Rally of the Midlands as a test for the upcoming Jim Clark Rally, and as it is his home event Matt was keen to put on an impressive display for all of his local fans and supporters. Despite only having competed on this rally once before he was seeded 9th overall, but he knew that with half the stage mileage consisting of timed runs through the Mira Proving Ground, roads that favour out and out power, his little MG would be at a power deficit.
Even so Matt acquitted himself well and put in some solid times, using these stages to gain confidence in his new tyres. After a recent test with Hankook Matt was running the new Ventus tyres this weekend and was pleased with the performance they offered, even after 3 tortuous stages through Mira, where tyre wear was a point of discussion with almost all the crews.
After 74 miles of hot and fierce competition (the temperature soared above 30 celsius around the open and exposed Mira stages!) Matt and Gemma found themselves well within the top 10 overall and in the thick of a fight with 2 Ford Escorts for 7th overall. Not bad for someone who was competing on only his 3rd EVER tarmac event!
With the bit between his teeth for the Sunday stages Matt decided to use his local knowledge to his advantage and began as he meant to continue, by posting the outright fastest time through Merevale 1, going 1 second quicker than rally leader, and eventual winner, Tom Morris in his Group B Metro 6r4! Even though Matt was able to shave another second off his second run through the stage the 6r4 was having none of this and went quicker than Matt by a mere 1 second! A string of top 3 times over the next few stages soon elevated Matt up to 5th overall, and with the demise of Damian Shields, who crashed his Mitsubishi Evo 7 on one of the very trickery Bramcote stages, Matt returned to the rally finish in Nuneaton with 4th place a fine reward for a spirited drive.
Not only did the Motorsport In The Midlands North Warwickshire and Hinckley College Motorsport Academy supported pairing finish 4th overall, but they took the accolades of being the first Group N finishers as well as 2nd in class.
We came here this weekend for a bit of fun, and to gain some experience of the car and tyres on tarmac before the Jim Clark next month. And to come away with 4th overall is absolutely incredible! To everyone who supported me this weekend, from my folks to the guys at M3 motorsport, the Academy and to all the fans who cheered me on this weekend, I must say a very big thank you!
Next up for Matt and Gemma is the Jim Clark Rally, round 2 of the 2006 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship, which begins on Friday 7th July 2006.
For more information on the rally please visit: http://www.rallyofthemidlands.co.uk/
For more information on Matt Beebe please visit: http://www.mattbeebe.co.uk/