“Last year I ended up with lots of different passengers almost from week to week. They ranged from an 18-stone man one week to an eight-stone girl the next, so the car felt very different from week to week. That was an extra challenge.”
Thomas downplays the initial success, but he was British Sporting Trialling Champion in 2012 and 2013. He then had a few years off, had a little girl with his partner and went rallying, the pandemic gave him the opportunity to work on the Trials car and get it back out there. Thomas elaborated; “We had no work so I got stuck into fixing the car up again. The Trials were happening before any other form of motorsport because it was all outdoors and spaced out, so I reignited my motor sport on the hills and fell in love with Sporting Trialling all over again. It culminated in winning the MSUK championships in 2022 and 2023.”
With his love of all motor sport, but Sporting Trialling and rallying in particular, who are Thomas’ favourite rally drivers? “I was lucky to meet Hannu Mikkola, who competed in the 2000 London Sydney Rally with Roger. We were invited to go to dinner with Hannu and his sons and he was just a lovely man. But looking back when you see rally videos just watching him in action and his results, he was amazing, but all of that generation was. I just think they were all tremendous.”
“I follow Formula One regularly but I am not cheering for anyone at the moment, I am just enjoying the sport, but I have got to say got to say I admired the job Nico Rosberg did in 2016, I was a fan of his, I liked how he handled himself and the pressure from Lewis Hamilton that year. No one ever thought he could beat Hamilton but he did, I was supporting the underdog in that sense.”
“A great insight into trials came from John Fack who also races vintage cars. He said from the outside racing looks quick, but inside the car generally, things are happening quite slowly, whereas Trials looks very slow, but the reality is that many things are happening ever so quickly. Constant adjustments of fiddle brake application, steering inputs, reacting to how the car rides the terrain and passenger balance.”
“In terms of rallies I'd love to do, I'd love to do the Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo. I’d love to feel I've followed in my grandfather's footsteps as he competed in the Monte Carlo Rally three times in the early 60s. Then there is the Icelandic Saga which I would find tremendous as well.”
With a successful season of Sporting Trialling behind him but failure to make the medals in his favourite event, LeJog, both he and Roger Bricknell are now looking to make amends on the next HERO-ERA rally to kick off the 2024 season, The Per Ardua ad Infinitum. That’s a mini RAC Rally of the Tests, so Thomas has picked another tough one, just the platform to propel the duo back onto the podium.