Milford Haven rally driver Nick Cristofaro successfully completed a very testing week when he reached the finish of the Woodpecker Stages rally in Ludlow last weekend and in doing so became one of the youngest ever competitors to complete a national level rally in the UK.
Cristofaro has been competing in the Junior 1000 championship, a series of events for 14-17 year olds which does not require a driving licence. However, national level rallies need a full driving licence and with his 17th birthday on 28th August and the offer of a drive on the national Woodpecker rally on 4th September the race was on for Cristofaro to pass both his theory and driving test.
His theory test was successfully passed on his birthday and, with the assistance of Simon Mottram at Fast Track Driving School, Cristofaro passed his driving test on 2nd September with flying colours.
“With the Woodpecker just a week after my birthday the pressure was on to get both the theory and practical tests done,” said Cristofaro. “Simon from Fast Track was brilliant though and taught me all I needed to know to pass, I highly recommend him if you want to get your test done and dusted in a small amount of time!”
With his new licence in hand Cristofaro headed to Ludlow for the Woodpecker event where he had been given a free drive in a VW Lupo courtesy of Rallyschool.co.uk. The rally was Cristofaro’s first using pacenotes and also his first on a gravel surface. With a new more powerful car to get used to as well Cristofaro faced a very challenging day if he was to reach the rally finish.
The opening stage of the event in Bringewood forest went well and Cristofaro and co-driver Emma Morrison had no problems. After a cautious start Cristofaro increased his pace throughout the day to be well positioned in his class at the rally finish.
"It was a very steep learning curve, the Lupo has around twice the power of my own rally car as well as different brakes and handling," commented Cristofaro. "I did not want to retire from my first national event so I gradually got quicker as I got more comfortable with the car."
"We had one slight incident where the intercom stopped working, we were coming down a hill at around 90mph and suddenly there was a chicane. I tried to slow the car down as fast as I could but we arrived at the chicane too quickly and hit a log but fortunately there was little damage and we carried on to the finish."
"I was delighted to reach the end of the event and was very pleased with my performance, thanks to Rallyschool.co.uk for the drive."
Cristofaro will be competing in his final Junior event next weekend at Brawdy airfield and after that he hopes to sell his Micra and try and get sponsorship to compete in the British Rally Championship next year. Potential sponsors are invited to get in touch via www.nickcristofaro.co.nr for a portfolio. As well as Brawdy he is also planning to compete in the Cambrian rally in October, Wales Rally GB in November and the Grizedale Stages in December. Cristofaro has also been chosen by Robert Reid of the MSA to take part in the Elite Driver Academy where he will undertake an intense course involving driver fitness, psychology and nutrition.
Image courtesy Simon Clarke