BINGLEY'S Sam Bilham overcame power-steering failure in the closing stages to earn his third podium of the season in the Fiesta ST Trophy.

The 19-year-old finished third in the British Trials and Rally Drivers' Association (BTRDA) Nicky Grist Stages Rally in and around Builth Wells, and the Reis Motorsport Insurance-backed driver is now joint first in the standings with two rounds remaining.

With heavy early morning rain in the Epynt forests, conditions would prove extremely unpredictable, with the levels of grip changing with each mile covered.

Bilham was joined for this event by co-driver Graham Wild and, despite not being together for over ten months, they showed no signs of needing to settle into the stages as the duo opened the times with a confidence-boosting second quickest on the first Crychan test.

With one eye on the championship, however, Bilham elected not to risk his position during the remaining three stages in the morning and returned to the first and only service of the day in a solid third spot.

Nevertheless, Bilham headed out for the final loop of stages in determined mood in the ultra-competitive single-make championship, but all hopes of making inroads on his position were dashed on stages five and six when the Fiesta developed a steering problem, losing all power assistance and any hope of gaining second place.

Proud of their 100 per cent finishing record this year, the team made some hasty repairs at emergency service and Bilham was able to complete the final two stages without drama.

His third position in the Fiesta ST Trophy and N3 Class meant that rival Cameron Davies drew level with him.

Bilham said at the finishL: “It’s been a really challenging day and the conditions have been some of the worst we have seen since the 'Somerset' in April.

“I’m pleased with how consistent we have been this year and I know there is much more to come from both the car and me but we always said this would be a learning year, so these results are equally important.

"Steering failure really put paid to any chance of moving up the leaderboard but another podium is not a bad end to the day.”

Crews now have an eight-week break until the Woodpecker Stages Rally in September.

Bilham added: “We will use the summer to gather ourselves together and plan how to attack the final two rounds.

"We need to look at the dropped-score scenario and see how to play it, but we are getting quicker with every rally and now we need to turn that up a notch in September."

Sam is also supported by Mechanical Solutions, Pertemps Recruitment, The Next Big Step, Gareth Hooper Motorsport Services, Vital Equipment, Calvert Construction and The Garage at Stanley Mills.