Motorsport News national rallying editor Jack Benyon debuted in the best way possible at last weekend’s Lee Holland Memorial Rally, by winning the event in the co-driver’s seat of Ashley Field’s Darrian T90.
The 23-year-old hadn’t competed in a rally before despite attending events from as early as six weeks old, and had a relatively uneventful day to help steer Field to a 59s victory, the Mansfield driver’s first in the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship this year.
“It was a baptism of fire for sure,” said the 23-year-old Benyon. “Everything came up so quick in that car. It’s a real piece of engineering genius and trying to keep up with the splits – and Ashley – was difficult. The splits provided a challenge but the Pendle and District and Garstang and Preston clubs did a great job of creating a challenging course. I just wish it hadn’t been my first time in the car.”
Field has been a frontrunner in the championship all year, meaning a debut in the car put Benyon under pressure.
“Yes, there was a lot of pressure. But not from the team. Ashley and his crew didn’t put me under any stress, the exact opposite. They were great all day. The pressure came from myself, I was adamant I didn’t want to ruin anything for Ashley who hasn’t had the best of luck in the championship this year. He should have had at least two wins prior, so as soon as it was apparent we would have a chance at the win, I had to make sure everything was up to scratch.”
The journalist – who has covered the majority of the rounds for Motorsport News this season – was shell shocked at the finish but, was soon brought back to earth by Special Stage TV presenter Paul Woodford.
“Paul and I have some banter going back to the BTRDA awards last year when he presented me with an award for the best hair in the championship. When we got out of the car in service on Sunday, Paul gave me a Michelin hat for the win. He said: ‘I don’t know why all the award related items I give you are to do with hair, but well done!’
Benyon says there are no future plans to co-drive with a BARDS test approaching, but won’t rule out a return to the passenger seat.
“I’ve dreamed of competing since I could talk and walk, so I can’t thank Ashley and the Medi Cell Rally Team enough for having me aboard as a complete novice. I think that tells you what kind of people they are. I had family in attendance too and it was so nice to share it with them and they were so well looked after by Leslie and the crew.”
“I don’t have any co-driving appearances confirmed for the future but I’m open to offers! I did joke on Sunday that I was retired from co-driving, it can only go downhill from here! But I doubt I’d be able to stay away if I had an offer.
I’ve had some of my most enjoyable times as a reporter in this paddock, everybody is so friendly and hopefully I can continue to dedicate time to being around this championship. It’s full of great people and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”
So what next for Benyon – maybe a seat in a WRC car?