I made the switch to full time rallying at the beginning of the 2009 season. Andrew Purcell partnered me on the Galway International Rally, the opening round of the Fiesta Sport Trophy Ireland but at that point I had not teamed up with a full time co driver.
I had an ambitious event schedule planned and then as if it were pre-ordained I struck up a friendship with a certain Gareth Roberts on Facebook. I knew his reputation as he had won the double of UK and Irish Fiesta Sport Trophy Championships in 2008 with Elfyn Evans and from speaking to him I knew we both had the same ambition.
After discussing my upcoming events we decided to enter both the Sunseeker and the Willie Loughman Forest Rally together. It was a hectic weekend with the two rallies on the same weekend, the Sunseeker on Saturday and after quick a flight home to Waterford, my local forest rally on Sunday. Right from the first morning together we clicked and class wins on the two events started the ball rolling. WRC Portugal followed quickly and the memories of that week spent in the Algarve will stay with me for ever. Our first WRC win for both of us and only our third rally together.
Over the next three years the rallies were ticked off one by one and our partnership grew with each mounting win but more than that, our friendship became stronger and stronger. It's hard to describe when a person knows what you are thinking before you say something but that's the way it was between the two of us.
Last year our hard work peaked with the WRC Academy title. We didn't get off to the start we had hoped for, WRC Portugal kicked the season off and there wasn't the fairy tale result like in 2009. Then Sardinia and another poor result but all the time we believed in each other.
The season then turned with a great second overall in Finland and our maiden Academy win followed in Germany. On to WRC France and we were looking good to make it two in a row when disaster struck. We went off the road, breaking a driveshaft and were out. Gareth was distraught; blaming himself for the mistake, blaming himself for what he thought was the losing of the championship. We all consoled him and we agreed to leave no stone unturned and take the title on Rally GB.
Rally GB, Ted was on home turf and he doubled his effort as we just had to get the win. Stage by stage the dream came closer. Gareth reeling off the pacenotes but also the bigger job of keeping my feet on the ground. I'll never forget that final stage, waiting for Egon to finish and then the result came through, we'd pulled it off, we were Champions!
This year (2012) began with a bang on the Monte and yet again Gareth was on the top of his game. He put in a great amount of work on the recce and this paid off when we recorded our maiden SWRC win in the Principality.
After backing up our result in Monte with a great second overall in Sweden we got the interesting call from Sainteloc Racing about forming a partnership with Sainteloc, Peugeot Sport and Ourselves to enter the IRC. On the back of this, behind the scenes, we were also invited to do some development work on the new Peugeot 208 R2. All our hard work was starting to pay off.
An ok result on the Circuit kicked off our IRC campaign but one of the results I'm most proud of and not just this year, but in my career to date, came on the Tour de Corse. Sixth overall on the renowned event showed we were continuing to progress from our Academy win in.
Then a really exciting prospect came along, to drive for HRT Motorsport at the Targa Florio Rally in Sicily, and from here on, faith took its course.
I will never fully come to terms with losing you Ted. You were my right hand; you were my view to the road up ahead. Your voice will always ring in my ear when I put on my helmet, I will never forget you. You were the BEST, and no one will ever come close. Have to continue this dream for us both.