Marshall Clarke is clocking up the miles in pursuit of a return to the World Rally Championship.

The Fermanagh navigator has returned to the co-driver’s seat alongside Qatari driver Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari for the 2019 season, and with three events already under their belt they are hoping a successful conclusion to the year will secure them a drive in WRC2 nesx season.

The pair last teamed up in January 2017 for the Qatari Rally but a huge accident resulted in a broken back for Clarke. Despite that experience, he welcomed the opportunity to restore the partnership when he received the call from Al-Kuwari.

“I hadn’t done a rally for a year and the phone call came out of the blue, so I thought ‘Let’s Go’,” said Marshall.

“The body is holding up which is the main thing, and I’m enjoying it again. It’s like riding a bike. You never forget but just getting back up to speed is the main thing.”

The pair started the year contesting the first two rounds of the Middle East Rally Championship, and despite two years out of action for the Qatari driver he was quickly on the pace of the front runners.

“He approached me to start the Middle Eastern championship and we went and done Qatar,” explained Marshall.

“If the result was good enough then his backers were going to back him to do other rallies. We finished second and then we went to do Rally Jordan. You score points on both days so we came second overall again and won day two, which left us very close to the top of the championship in second place.”

Having proved their competitiveness on familiar territory, they then opted to switch to Europe for a Spanish event last month.

“The next round is Lebanon and it is on tarmac which he has no interest in, so he took his budget and said we would do a rally in Spain,” said Marshall.

“We went to the Astorga Rally in North West Spain where we finished sixth. It’s a different format. It is only one pass recce making your own notes at 30 miles per hour so obviously guys that have been there before have an advantage but he was quite happy with his times and we missed out on fifth by 2.8 seconds.”

Their European adventure will continue with a trip to France next on the agenda.

“Next week I am in France to do Rallye Langres in the French championship. It is three years from he drove so he is trying to challenge himself to get back up to speed. Then we go to Cyprus in September and then next year I believe we are going to the WRC again.”