World rally winner has battled cancer for two years

A DRIVER who has battled cancer for two years has spoke of his pride after finishing top of the class in the recent World Rally Championship round in Wales.

Paul Ashmore, 51, from Mill Lane in Stebbing, fulfilled a lifetime ambition by winning the Class N2 division in his Suzuki Swift S1600.

Before the mid-November race Ashmore had last competed in Britain as a co-driver in the 1970s before moving to Italy.

He returned to Britain two years ago after learning he had contracted throat and lung cancer, but decided to contest the home round of the World Championship and compete alongside superstars of the sport such as Sebastian Loeb and Kimi Raikoneen.

He said: “Against all the odds we won our class and came 43rd overall from 80, it was a great result and caused quite a stir in the media with radio interviews and news articles.

“I have been fighting cancer for over two years and I also promote awareness of University College London Hospital and the Cancer Research Trust on the side of the car.

“It is a great cause and the rally result was great for myself, the team and UCL.”

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Ashmore was making his world debut at the event and put in a stunning drive to win.

His only blemish came when he locked up and slid off the road during the Cryham section – one of the most demanding on the whole rally because it is a mixed surface of gravel and asphalt.

But despite the setback the Stebbing man, with the help of co-driver Tom Ward, managed to record an overall time of 4hours, 49minutes and 58 seconds, this made him the ninth amateur driver overall across all of the categories.

Prior to the event he received treatment at UCL whilst earning his international licence to take part – that involved eight various races across the country starting with a debut in Down Ampney in May.

The Wales GB rally took place between November 11 and 14.

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