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Pinder dreams of rally stardom

Shipley rally driver Luke Pinder has big ambitions to drive in the British Championship for Ford in 2004.

The 19-year-old, well-known for driving his bright blue Yorkshire Rally Spares Vauxhall Nova, is attempting to raise enough funds to contest the Ford Ka Championship next year. The winner is given the chance to earn a factory drive for Ford the following year.

Pinder, who got the bug for racing at the age of 14, first made a name for himself in the world of Autograss racing - or "grass-tracking" as the enthusiasts know it.

"My first car was a £270 1000cc mini and I said goodbye to Sunday cricket and embarked on my dream of becoming a rally driver," said Pinder.

While grass-tracking, Pinder won the Autograss White Rose Club's junior and senior titles in successive years.

The teenager was given a tremendous boost when he was given some specialist training with the legendary Finnish driver Pentti Airikkalla, who was impressed with his skills.

Pinder up-graded to a £250 car built by Pete Stansfield of Yorkshire Rally Spares.

"This proved to be the best £250 that anyone in the history of motorsport has ever spent. The season brought me two championship wins, 33 race wins and numerous trophies. At the end of the year I thought I would try my hand at Autotesting but I was still grassing in 2000."

Pinder secured enough wins to take the Senior Class 1 Championship.

Several cars later and Pinder acquired his bright blue 1.6 Nova, a former Rallycross car. He entered the 2002 ANCC stage rally championship full of hope but encountered several mechanical problems - including "a broken driveshaft, split radiator and a smashed windscreen following a gentle roll".

Pinder decided there was little point in continuing the single venue rounds and he was offered the post of relief instructor at Chris Birbeck's rally school in the north east.

Now plans for 2003 very much depend on sponsorship. And you can't fault Pinder's ambitions.

Apart from setting his sights on the Ford Ka Championship, he is also costing championships in Asia and America.

Luke's father John, who is a former rally driver, said: "Luke is a talented driver and has been very competitive despite driving machinery that is far less sophisticated than his rivals.

"He has developed nicely in the last couple of seasons. We recently formed an alliance with York City Racing."

Don't rule out the teenager making the big-time one day.

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