ZAK Hughes celebrated class victory at the Harry Flatters Rally following an eventful weekend in Epynt.

The young Middletown driver, with Chris Hughes in the passenger seat, endured a disastrous recce with the loss of fifth gear leading to a late night shift by the SVP Motorsport team who stripped and rebuilt the gearbox.

Their hard work was rewarded as Hughes immediately set the pace alongside rival Tom Delaney who both sought to capitalise when Swift Championship leader Martin Thayne retired on stage one.

Hughes forged an 18 second lead before rain arrived on stage three before the Middletown ace was forced to avoid a photographer and sheep crossing the road, causing more dropped seconds.

Despite an eventful day the 18 year old celebrated a 55 second victory and climbed to third in the 1600 class of the Swift Championship ahead of the fifth round, the Woodpecker Rally.

Hughes said: ” It was a near perfect day for me, it was good to get a finish after a non-finish on the last round and to win the event with five out of five stage wins was a great boost for me.

“To win the swifts was the target, but to also come away with third in the 1600cc class and 30th overall was a fantastic result in a near standard car.

“I owe a huge thanks to my co-driver, Chris Evans, his experience at this venue was invaluable.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back on gravel for the next round. I lack the experience on the surface compared to my competitors but hope I can push and challenge for a third win in the series.”