Inside line -- Steven Smith

That was quite a year, wasn't It?

I had a fantastic time! A dream year: nine class wins from nine events and a top three overall on seven.

Did you have any problems?

Epynt was fraught — we had to drive seven miles with no oil. It shouldn't have survived! We also had to do two gearbox changes. On the Mid Wales we ran out of petrol and had to borrow some from a chap using a cement mixer. Later in the year we discovered the diff had broken.

Who else is central to your success?

XS Racing prepares the car, and whenever we had problems they were supremely able at fixing them. And my co-driver John Nichols is extremely organised and very professional — the trust I have in his notes is one of the keys to going quickly. It was vital to our Manx success when the fog came down on the first night.

Was overall victory on the Manx the highlight of the year?

Definitely the event of the year. Richard Gower caught us on the penultimate stage but we got it back by being 8sec faster on the last. I never want to have to drive East Baldwin that fast again! We took big chances on that stage.

What's next?

We'll run the same Escort RS2000 in the BHRC this year, but it now revs to 8000 instead of 7000rpm. That should give us 15mph on top speed, so on Epynt we shouldn't lose as much time to the BDA Escorts. It should also fill the gaps between the gears a bit better.