Trailbike star Billy Bolt was a muddy marvel as he rode his way to victory in round one of the 2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship.
The British rider, who is sponsored by Palletforce, won two of the three races in atrocious conditions at Extreme XL Lagares in Portugal.
Billy had been fastest in qualifying on Saturday but after torrential overnight rain it was decided that, although the racing would go ahead, no championship points would be awarded for the event.
However, that didn’t stop Billy from showing his championship rivals what he could do.
After convincing wins in the first two races, Billy – the 2020 Super Enduro World Champion – suffered an early crash in race three. Despite that, he picked himself up to recover and finish second.
The flying Tynesider, who rides for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, said: “After two good wins, the overall victory nearly got away from me in the final race. My gloves were muddy and it was hard to hang on and go fast, but I knew I had time to chip away and – once I got into second – I took it home for the overall win.”
While not affecting the championship standings, the victory will be a confidence boost for the 23-year-old, who was the weekend’s dominant rider.
Palletforce has sponsored Billy since his early days as a budding trials rider and has been right behind him during his rise to the top of the sport.
Danielle Owen, EV Cargo Head of Marketing and Communications, said: “Billy has been flying the Palletforce flag for a few years now and he continues to deliver a world-class performance at home and abroad – just like Palletforce.
“We wish him the best of luck for the season ahead in the world championship.”
Palletforce Kicks Off Health & Wellbeing Campaign With Burton Albion
Palletforce is kicking off a new phase of its long-term partnership with Burton Albion FC in a bid to boost health and wellbeing throughout the local community.
The international express distribution network has long been a supporter of the club’s charity arm, Burton Albion Community Trust (BACT), and the two organisations are stepping up their joint efforts to get Burton moving.
The special focus of the work will be on weight management and BACT’s walking football programme, which keeps over-50s active by encouraging them to carry on playing the game. Walking football – where players are not allowed to run or jog – has been shown to have great physical and mental health benefits and allows people to carry on playing the game long after they otherwise would have had to retire.
Palletforce will also work with the trust on health initiatives for its own employees and on other ways to support communities across Burton. Its media and marketing divisions will be drafted in to help promote the schemes and boost take-up.
BACT’s head of community Matt Hancock said: “We have had an amazing working partnership with Palletforce and I’m delighted that it’s not only going to continue but will be even stronger over the next year.
“Health and wellbeing has become ever more important during the pandemic and will be a key area of our work going forward, which makes Palletforce’s commitment and support more important than ever.”
This year is a special one for both organisations, with Burton-based Palletforce, which runs an award-winning international distribution network, marking 20 years of operations and BACT celebrating its 10th birthday. Their partnership is now in its seventh consecutive year.
Palletforce chief executive Michael Conroy said: “This is a great initiative by the Burton Albion Community Trust and we are delighted to once again give them our full backing and support.
“There is rightly now an increased focus on health and wellbeing issues and it is great that we can work with the trust to help both our workers and people across the community to be active and healthy.
“Palletforce has always been committed to helping support the community in which we operate and our long-term partnership with the trust has been a great success story and one we are very proud to continue.”
Meeke searching for perfect Finnish on Rally 100
Palletforce-supported world rally driver Kris Meeke is all set for a very special event this week. Rally Finland is the fastest event on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar and will also mark the Northern Ireland driver’s 100th world rally start.
Meeke, who recently turned 40, won the famous rally in 2016. With an average speed of 126.62 kph, it was also the fastest rally in WRC history and, because of the high speeds, has been affectionally named the ‘Finnish Grand Prix’.
Rally Finland has gained iconic status because of its speeds and legendary rollercoaster jumps. The smooth, ultra-fast gravel stages thread their way through forests and around lakes with drivers rewarded for their bravery and commitment, making it a favourite with both drivers and fans alike.
Based in Jyvaskyla in central Finland, the host city turns into a rallying mecca for the weekend with fans flocking from across the world to experience the legendary rally. It’s a carnival atmosphere out on the stages where spectators line the roads to catch a glimpse of their favourite drivers in action.
This year’s event starts on Thursday evening with a fan-friendly street stage in Jyvaskyla. The following day crews tackle stages to the west before Meeke faces a mammoth 14 hours behind the wheel of his Toyota Yaris WRC on Saturday. Sunday finishes with a short loop of stages to the east including the Ruuhimaki Power Stage.
After leading many of the events so far this season and setting a raft of fastest stage times, Meeke will be searching for his first win of the season and maiden victory with the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team.
Based in Jyvaskyla, it’s the team’s home event and the Yaris WRC has been tested to perfection on these roads.
Kris Meeke said: “It’s incredible to think this is my 100th WRC start and great to be able to celebrate it at the home of rallying. Rally Finland is definitely one of my favourite events with some special memories for me, and I’m really looking forward to taking it on with the Yaris WRC. Finland is where I got my first taste of this car, and we tested there again last week, and the car always feels incredible to drive on those roads.
“It was developed in Finland and we’ve seen in the last two years just how strong it can be on this rally. I think that everyone in the team is feeling confident about the second part of the season, and hopefully we can kick-start that with a great result in Finland. I’m going to be at a bit of a disadvantage because a lot of the route will be new for me, but I’m ready for the challenge.”
Pace in Sardinia but a frustrating end for Meeke
KDM Hire-backed world rally driver Kris Meeke suffered another frustrating result on round eight of the FIA World Rally Championship despite building up his pace to challenge for a podium on an event he has little experience off.
Meeke finished eighth at the wheel of his Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team Yaris WRC after a broken wheel rim forced him into a mid-stage tyre change on Saturday while in a heated three-way battle.
Rally d’Italia, hosted on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, delivers some of the toughest conditions of the year. Its narrow tracks are lined with huge rocks and surfaces range from deep sand to hard bedrock – all this with the typical sweltering summer temperatures makes for one of the most demanding championship events.
However, from the start, Meeke was at a distinct disadvantage having not competed in 2016 and 2018. The opening day on Friday was spent getting more familiar with the stages and setting an improved set of times on the second pass in the afternoon. He still managed to hold fifth place overnight after making more progress with car set-up and using mixed compound tyres for the first time with the Yaris.
Saturday morning saw a similar approach with the Dungannon-driver losing ground over the morning stages but locked in a three-way fight for fourth position. It was nip and tuck in the afternoon with Meeke starting to claw back time and looking like a challenge for the podium was on.
However, an impact with a rock on the final stage of the day saw Meeke forced to stop in the middle of the stage, change the tyre and limp to the end – dropping over two minutes in the process and back to eighth.
He cruised through the final four stages on Sunday and, despite another solid performance on unfamiliar stages, it wasn’t the podium result he was after.
With a five-week summer break, the championship race how heads to Finland and the iconic Neste Rally Finland on 2-4 August – an event that Meeke has won previously and will be targeting again.
Kris Meeke said: “I had highlighted this rally as one of the toughest at the start of the season. Compared to the other drivers, I have very little experience of these stages and it was always going to be difficult to match them.
“However, we did find a strong pace, especially in the afternoons and I was actually quite enjoying the rally as we were in a good battle and making progress. Unfortunately, a broken wheel put paid to that and it meant we had no option but to drive through the final day stages and collect the team points.
“We just need to look forward to Finland and the second half of the season as a whole. The Yaris WRC was really strong on these events last season and the entire team will be pushing for the same again.”
Global freight distribution network Palletforce was once again the driving force behind the annual Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards.
Palletforce sponsored the prestigious Scottish Sourcing (Multiple) award at this year’s event, which took place on May 23 at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange.
Known as the food and drink “Oscars”, the Awards recognise businesses and individuals who are leading the way with innovation, enterprise and quality in Scotland’s thriving food and drink industry.
The Scottish Sourcing (Multiple) award is open to all large-scale retail, wholesale or food service businesses who place Scottish sourcing at the heart of their consumer experience and proudly promote Scottish provenance.
It was the first year that Palletforce has sponsored the award, having sponsored the Brand Success category for the last four years.
This year’s winners were supermarket giant Aldi, who are also celebrating 25 years since they opened their first store in Scotland and 10 years since they created a dedicated Scottish Buying Department.
Palletforce sales and marketing director Dave Holland said: “Scotland’s thriving food and drink industry plays a major part in the country’s economy, and Palletforce is proud to play its part in this ongoing success story.
“The Scottish Sourcing Award has particular resonance with us, since Palletforce has recently joined forces with five leading UK logistics companies to work under the new EV Cargo brand. EV Cargo specialises in providing essential supply chain services for all the major food and drink manufacturers, ensuring seamless “field-to-plate” delivery.”
Organised by Scotland Food & Drink, in partnership with the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, the awards recognise excellence across 18 categories.
“The Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards allow us to shine a light on the skill, dedication and innovation of Scotland’s very best food and drink producers,” said James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink.
“The Awards provide an invaluable platform to highlight to the nation and beyond the strength of our industry and the wealth of talent across all sectors.”
Tough rally Chile but Meeke still holds fourth
Palletforce international brand ambassador and world rally driver Kris Meeke continues to hold a solid fourth place in the FIA World Rally Championship standings after a tough weekend at Rally Chile saw him finish tenth. However, Meeke is one of just three drivers to have scored points on every round this season, proving his consistent approach is helping boost his experience with the new car and team this year.
After sealing his best finish of the season at Rally Argentina just two weeks ago, Meeke took to the stages of the all-new Rally Chile in a bid to repeat that performance. After a stunning ceremonial start in Concepcion, Meeke got off to the best possible start in his Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris WRC car by winning the opening stage on Friday morning.
But the slippery conditions and a lack of complete confidence in his new pacenotes meant Meeke was a little hesitant and couldn’t fully commit on the demanding stages. He slipped down the standings but still maintained a strong top-five position at the end of day one.
However, things got worse on Saturday morning. Meeke ran wide on a slow left-hand corner, touching a bank and flipping his Yaris WRC onto its roof. He had to wait on some help from spectators and lost over six minutes in the process.
Damage to the car was relatively cosmetic, allowing Meeke and co-driver Seb Marshall to push on and set competitive times, even without a front windscreen and despite it being difficult to hear the pacenotes inside the car.
With a full repair carried out in service, the pair pushed on with their mission to climb up the leader-board and salvage as many championship points as possible. With a string of top-times, including going fastest on stage 13 on Sunday, the pair climbed back to eighth and claimed an extra bonus point on the final Power Stage.
But they suffered another set-back, a one-minute time penalty handed out after the rally finish saw them drop back to tenth overall. Meeke still secured enough points to maintain fourth in the championship battle as the race now moves back to Europe.
Rally Portugal, which Meeke won in 2016, is next up. Based in Porto, it takes place from 31 May to 2 June.
Kris Meeke said: “It’s been a tough weekend in Chile. I had some sickness on the recce and some of the stages had thick fog, so we struggled a bit with the pacenotes for these new stages when the rally started. Friday was difficult, we just couldn’t get everything to flow together and I didn’t have the confidence to push flat-out.
“Our roll on Saturday could have only cost us 20-30 seconds as there wasn’t much damage to the car. But it ended up being over six minutes as we had to wait on spectators to help – the team, however, done a great job in repairing the car again. I’m a bit frustrated, we have the speed to push for podiums on every event but just need things to go our way.”
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