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Australian rally driver, Brendan Reeves, showed true Aussie grit at Rally Portugal at the weekend, clawing his way back from last place to a fighting fourth after a puncture nearly spoilt his weekend.

Twenty-two year old Reeves and his co-driving sister, Rhianon Smyth, were competing at Rally Portugal, round three of the World Rally Championship (WRC), after winning the Pirelli Star Driver shootout in Spain last October.  The pair were awarded a fully-funded drive in a Ford Fiesta R2 as part of the newly formed WRC Academy. Eighteen Academy competitors lined up for Rally Portugal, all in identical Fiesta R2s prepared by UK outfit M-Sport, who also build the Ford Fiestas for the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.

Rally Portugal, the first event on the six-event WRC Academy calendar for 2011, kicked off on Thursday evening with a 3.27 km Super Special Stage around the streets of Lisbon.  Watched by a crowd of more than 40,000 spectators, Reeves held his nerve and completed the stage in third place.

Friday's competition consisted of six stages - three stages each run twice - and whilst the duo got off to a great start, a puncture about 2 kilometres into the day's second stage (SS3) cost them over four minutes and plummeted them to the back of the field. Back on form on SS4, Reeves quickly got back on the pace on the second loop of stages and had a good run for the remainder of the day, leaving him in 11th place at the overnight halt.

Despite the disappointment of Friday, Reeves dug deep and focused on improving a specific aspect of his driving on each of day two's stages, with pleasing results.  He steadily climbed up the rankings all day, and with increasing
familiarity with the car, which he had not driven until the day before the rally got underway, he was able to increase his speed and was rewarded with a fine fourth place, and 12 valuable Championship points.

"I'm very happy with our result considering where we were on stage three on Friday," Reeves said. "We kept working hard all rally and steadily improving our stage times. It was a very rough rally but we managed to get through without any major problems."

Reeves and Smyth will return to Australia this week to prepare for Targa Tasmania in which they will drive a Mazda3 MPS for Mazda Motorsport.  Their next WRC Academy event is Rally Sardinia (Italy) from May 5 to 7.

Visit Brendan Reeves' website for more photos from Rally Portugal.

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