Chris ready for ‘Champions League final’ of rallying

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Burnley rally driver Chris Speakman has qualified for the prestigious Portuguese BAJA 500 in the Yamaha Super Finale.

The 40-year-old businessman, of Speakman Contractors, will join Europe’s leading Yamaha drivers in Portalegre city next month on the back of his success in the British Cross Country Championships.

The father-of-three has so far raced the 72 miles around Bovington, the world famous Sweet Lamb rally complex in Wales, a course used in the World Rally Championships, Forrest Estate in Dumfries, Scotland, and Walters Arena.

Chris, who drives a Yamaha YZX, said: “We’ll never be able to compete with those in the top 10 [of the British Championships].

“It would be so difficult because they’re working with 400/500 horse power.

“We’re only really measurable against similar engine sizes and other Yamahas.”

“I’ve been doing it for about two years.

“I got in to it through local business links.

“I was working on a job with Justin Birchall, who is currently leading the British Championships in a different class, and I ended up watching him for about three years. I decided to give it a go myself.”

The former Gawthorpe High School pupil will travel to the Serra de São Mamede with son and co-pilot, 16-year-old Oliver, daughter Brooke, youngest son Robin and team mechanic Graham Dickinson, who works at DCMS.

With a brand new vehicle presented to the overall winner, Chris said: “I’m loving it. It’s going really well.

“To get the opportunity to go out and represent Yamaha UK in Portugal is special.

“It’s quite an honour to be doing that.

“We’re looking forward to it, it’ll be a 10-day round trip in October.

“It brings together all the leading Yamaha drivers from across Europe and their co-pilots.

“It’s the Champions League final for us. The top teams from across Europe will be competing so we’d like a top 10 finish.

“We’re always in it to win it. We have to go hard or go home because it’s taken a great effort to get out there in the first place.

“We won’t be hanging around, we want to come home with a trophy.”