It’s a dream come true for Stewart Reid, who has completed his first event in his brand spanking new Ford Escort RS1800, finishing fourth outright.

Reid, who runs SR Automotive in Kippa Ring, a suburb of Brisbane, is “living the dream” of driving one of rallying’s most iconic rally cars.

“I go to the fridge every day and suck a lemon to see if I am really awake!” Reid quipped. “I stood in a Scottish forest 20 years ago and saw an RS1800 Escort in full flight and I said to myself ‘Someday I will have one of those’!”

Reid, an accomplished driver, has competed for 20 years in various cars, including one of the ex-works Toyota S2000’s of Neal Bates.

“I drove Neal’s car in Rally SA last year and it was certainly very exciting. I was keen on a purchase but there was that lingering thought of an Escort.

“I saw that classic rallying was on the rise and after some research contacted Mark Solloway at Historic Rallysport in the UK. At that stage Mark had just completed an RS1800 for Mikko Hirvonen. That was good enough for me, so I ordered the same car!”

The new car arrived in early February by sea freight and it was an anxious Reid who picked up the car at Customs. He had two weeks to be ready for its first event – Rally Tasmania.

Mark Solloway arrived to take charge of servicing and the car ran faultlessly during the tarmac event, with Reid and Stacy setting consistent top five times - the only maintenance,  a full check over and the front discs replaced, after a lot of late braking on the twisty Tasmania roads.

The RS1800 has been returned to gravel specification in Reid’s SR Automotive workshop and he is eager to race Barry Lowe in the upcoming QUIT Forest Rally in Perth, the ARC opener.

“I was hoping for more classics to race, but Barry is a form competitor and we look forward to seeing how we go against him,” Reid said. “Then there is the GT Falcon, she will be a handful on the ball bearings!

“We will be at the International Rally of Queensland in May and we will do other events as they come up,” Reid said.

“I am ready to have a crack against Jeff David, who is bringing his new Porsche to Queensland – bring it on….”

Reid will be joined by up to 15 other classic rally competitors who compete in a diverse range of cars, from a Capri V8 to Datsun Stanzas. Escort BDGs are popular too, with no less than five of the high revving models in capable hands.

All are part of the ever-growing classic rally movement in Australia. ACRA ran a successful classic competition in 2010 and members thrilled thousands of spectators at ARC events.

“Classic Rallying in Europe is huge. It’s not uncommon for over 300 competitors to compete in a Classic event there,” Reid said.

“I want to support Australian classic rallying and I hope plenty get out there and compete and I can’t wait for Neal Bates to get his new Celica finished. We will see just how good it is! I will be trying my hardest to knock him off!”

Reid and top co-driver, Mark Stacy, will drive the SR Automotive RS1800 at the QUIT Forest Rally, the first round of the new “Unrestricted ARC” in Perth next month.

If you live in Western Australia, here is your chance to see one of the best classic rally cars in action.
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