LAST season he won his class in the Northern Ireland Hillclimb Championship, but this year Adam Vance has surpassed that and exceeded his own expectations by winning the class one and the Group N Northern Ireland Rally Championship titles.
The 26-year-old went into the 2019 campaign with little to no stage rallying experience, but with his dad David on the notes, the pair soon found their feet.
Ahead of the season, which started with two closed circuit events at Kirkistown and Bishopscourt, Adam had low expectations and was hoping to use this year as a learning exercise.
However, having settled into life as a rally driver rather quickly, he went from fourth and fifth in class in the first two rounds to winning three events in a row – the Maiden City Stages, Down Rally and Lakeland Stages – before failing to finish his home event, the Bushwhacker, due to a mechanical issue.
With last weekend’s Glens of Antrim Rally being cancelled at the last minute, it was his second placed finish at the Tyrone Stages that secured him his double success by the narrowest of margins.
He was tied on points after dropped scores with Joel Eakin in class one, both finishing on 158 points, but Adam had more victories, while he won Group N by just half a point from the same runner-up.
Regardless of the fine margins involved, the Beragh man was delighted with how his season unfolded, especially after dad David picked up the class one co-drivers title too.
“It’s surpassed my expectations and if you had told me before the season started this would happen I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s more than I expected and I’m over the moon with it,” he beamed.
“I didn’t expect to come away with that after the first two rounds because I took my time to get used to it and gain experience. I got fourth and fifth in those first two rounds, so it didn’t look like I was going to get anything higher for the rest of the season.
“Group N is the biggest surprise. I didn’t look at it the whole season until we got to about the Down Rally and after that I noticed I was lying second overall in it. Once I found that out I took more of an interest, to be fair!”
Adam is currently weighing up his options for 2020, but after ensuring the class one NI Championship title remained in Tyrone for a third year – Dromore’s Gareth Deazley won it in 2017 and 2018 – who’s to say he won’t try to make it four in a row next season?
While he considers his plans for next year, Adam wishes to thank his sponsors for their support: WH Alexander Civil Engineering and Plant Hire, DJC Pump and Forecourt Maintenance, and CJ Kelly Car Repairs.