BINGLEY lad Sam Bilham put in a strong performance in the second round of the BTRDA Rally Series, despite the wintery weather and an early clash with a rock.

The 22-year-old took to the Cumbrian forests for the Malcolm Wilson Rally and recovered from 66th place to finish with a career-best sixth overall, after a torrid first stage.

Bilham was driving a Ford Fiesta F5 for only the second time, following his debut in the four-wheel drive vehicle last month in the Cambrian Rally, having spent most of his career behind the wheel of two-wheel-drive examples

That one ended in disappointment after a promising first stage, and Bilham would have been worried history was repeating itself in Cumbria.

Significant snowfall and low temperatures only came to emphasise the slippery forest tests.

Bilham tip-toed through the opener but his caution would not be enough as the Fiesta suffering a significant impact with a rock mid-way through the first stage, picking up a puncture.

He limped through the remainder of the test and opened his account with 66th overall.

But, the youngster attacked in the second stage and set the third fastest time overall.

This despite less than 25 competitive miles under his belt in the car, but Bilham's result saw him begin to climb up the leaderboard as he acclimatised to the potent Fiesta.

In the Greystoke Forest third stage - known for its notorious ditches and unforgiving camber - the Bingley boy launched himself into 16th spot with the second quickest time.

Bilham then made his way into the top-ten stage times after the first service of the rally and didn't stray outside of that bracket for the rest of the day.

Come the end, he raced into sixth place overall after 42 miles of competitive driving.

Bilham said: "I really couldn’t believe it when I clipped that rock on the first stage this morning, I really thought this would be Cambrian Rally all over again.

"But to finish sixth overall after that start is really special it’s everything I have always ever wanted in my rallying career.

"To be in a car like this and at a pace good enough for top-three times was unthinkable a few months ago."

He added: "I really can’t wait for the next round to see if we can capitalise on this result."

The next round is the Rallynuts Stages Rally, which takes place in Builth Wells, Wales in April.