A BROKEN front wheel put the skids under Martin Meadows' bid to win the Wyedean Rally.

The West Bradford driver, partnered by Ian Oakey, looked set to take the first BTRDA Gold Star victory of the year when disaster struck on the penultimate stage.

"We were going into a right-hand corner when the wheel broke without warning," explained Martin.

"There was no way we could keep going to the end of the stage, so we stopped to change it on the side of the road.

"Although it only took five minutes, the delay cost us any chance of victory.

"Ironically, a rear wheel broke at the end of one of the morning stages, and although we didn't lose any time, it was always at the back of my mind that it could happen again."

Despite the result, Martin was delighted with the performance of his Proton Compact.

He said: "The first stage of the event has been the same for the past few years, so we always look to see how the times compare.

"Last weekend we were 20 seconds faster than we had been in our Vauxhall Nova. That's a good start to the year when you consider that midway through last season - in the same car - we were struggling to be five seconds quicker." The leap in performance is explained by major changes to the rear suspension by Harry Hockly Motorsport, who prepare the car, and an increased level of commitment from the crew.

"Harry has developed some new rear suspension arms which have made it easier to drive. They upset the balance of the car and let you steer the back end of the car," explained Martin.

"This is just what you need in a rally car and I reckon that's where we've found some of the pace.

"At the same time I'm concentrating that bit harder behind the wheel and Ian's really focused on giving me as much information from the maps as he can."

Martin is back on home territory for the second round of the BTRDA championship, the Lake District-based Malcolm Wilson Rally next month.

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