HAVING made his mark as one of the most exciting young talents in the world of rallying, Castlederg teenager Adam Bustard is well placed to enhance his growing reputation as one for the future.
In recent years the Omagh Academy pupil has been turning heads with impressive performances in a number of junior championships. In 2013, at the tender age of 16, Adam, driving a Chevrolet Spark, won five of seven rounds to triumph in the Junior 1000 Championship for a second year running.
For the past two years though the Drumquin Road lad has been investing time in gaining valuable experience by competing in a number of local events as well as the Carryduff Forklift R2 Championship.
That proved time well spent for Adam, who along with co-driver Aaron Johnston, Fintona are this year competing in a R2 Junior category in the British Rally Championship.
Driving a M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2T used in last year’s WRC by none other than Max Vatanen, the Tyrone pair have already caught the eye.
First time out the local double act recorded a class victory in finishing 10th overall at the Red Kite Rally in Wales. That notable win proved the perfect warm-up for the first round of the BRC, the Mid Wales Rally, however the duo went out on day one and they immediately turned their attention to Round Two and the Circuit of Ireland.
Mechanical problems left Bustard and Johnston trailing third place by a massive 22 minutes, but on the second day the pair set a blistering pace to make up for lost time.
Over 10 stages the pair not only clawed back the deficit but at the finish line had claimed third place on the podium with a minute and 30 seconds to spare.
It had been a magnificent drive by anyone’s standards and, combined with his exploits at the Red Kite, makes Bustard an outstanding recipient of the Ulster Herald Sports Personality award for the month of February.
Reflecting on those successes Adam said, “We got the new car in the first week in February and four days later we took a class win at the Red Kite.
“After going out in the Mid Wales we focused on the Circuit. We had a drive shaft problem but we got it sorted and fixed and were delighted with our third place.
“We had a lot of time to make up but we decided to concentrate on our pace to get to the finish and if that was good enough so be it. We weren’t going to over do it and end up costing us.
“That proved the right thing to do and because we played our joker we doubled our points tally.”
This weekend Adam and Aaron are in Carlisle competing in Round Three, the Pirelli Rally.
The Cumbrian event is a forest based event and the pair are hoping for yet another strong finish.
Adam admits it won’t be easy but is nonetheless in confident mood.
“It’s definitely going to be a stronger field as a number of competitors didn’t come over for the Circuit,” he added.
“That said I prefer competing on gravel and we’’ll be hoping for a strong performance.
“There’s seven rounds in the championship with six to count. We have dropped the Mid Wales so we need to make every drive count.”
Like most young drivers of his age Adam harbours grand ambitions of making it big in the world of rallying. The burning ambition is to earn a living out of what he loves most, yet, he’s well aware that there are so many factors to take into consideration and pitfalls to negotiate to get to the top of the sport.
However the unassuming Derg lad appears to have an old head on young shoulders and has adopted the attitude that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.
“I suppose like everyone else the dream is to become a professional and drive for a works team,” continued Adam.
“But it’ll be one step at a time to achieve that goal. We’ll have to play it smart, at the end of the day it comes down to budget as well. If you over spend one year, you have nothing for the next.
“We’ll see where we go. If it works out then great, if it doesn’t we’ll review and re-plan and see what else is out there.”
Mind you winning the Junior BRC R2 Championship would certainly help. The winners receive either £20, 000 cash or £60, 000 towards competing in six rounds of the DMACK Championship.
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