Wheeler finishes season on a high at the Challenger Stages

Torquay-based rally driver Chris Wheeler ended a successful season on a high by finishing eighth overall at last weekend’s Challenger Stages, held at Bovington in Dorset. Wheeler and co-driver Shaun Layland produced a mature drive in their Citroen DS3 R3T, starting steadily in slippery conditions during the morning before upping their pace as the stage surface dried out.

The event attracted a high class field of 66 crews, with many keen to score points in various regional championships. However, Wheeler and Layland were equal to the challenge; using their Citroen’s nimble handling to good effect on the slippery surface they battled for seventh place with Ben Short / Hannah Chislett’s Mazda MX-5.

The two crews remained locked together throughout the morning, and as the tracks dried Wheeler pushed hard, closing the gap to just five seconds. But Short’s light and powerful Mazda had just enough extra speed to hold Wheeler at bay.

In the closing miles, Wheeler came under pressure from Andrew Phillips / Sophie Buckland’s two-litre class Peugeot 205 GTi. Now, car preparation came into play; the Citroen ran faultlessly and Wheeler beat his rival by six seconds on the final stage to consolidate eighth overall and second in class.

Speaking after the rally, Wheeler was full of praise for the team: “I am really proud of the effort that everyone has made throughout this season. The Citroen has been ultra-reliable and we have a 100 percent finishing record. Also, (co-driver) Shaun has done an awesome job in the car all year. We will prepare the car thoroughly over the winter, ready for our intended move up to a major national championship in 2020.”

Words By: Ian Harden

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