STEETON-based rally driver Lewis Hooper drove an impressive rally to chalk up a career-best podium result in the Melbourne Junior Stages.

Hooper, 14, is campaigning a Nissan Micra in Junior 1000 Rally Championship events across the UK, rubbing shoulders with like-minded competitors between the ages of 14 and 16.

Based near York, the Melbourne Junior Rally attracted an entry of 14 junior crews battling it out in 1000cc rally cars and consisted of eight stages throughout the day.

A committed drive from the start saw Hooper and Bingley-based co-driver Sam Bilham complete the first loop of stages in second place, just eight seconds adrift of the more experienced Ioan Lloyd in his Citroën C1 and with a 27-second gap to third-placed Mathew Jones.

The loose conditions at Melbourne continued to Hooper and his self-prepared Micra well as he went on to take two fastest overall stage times in the afternoon, showing that the Nissans can still be competitive despite their age disadvantage.

Heading into the final pair of stages with a comfortable margin in second, the crew made the sensible decision not to take any risks and a mature drive was rewarded with a career-best result of second overall on Hooper's eighth-ever rally.

He said: “I’m really happy with today’s result.

“The stages at Melbourne suited both my driving and my car really well and Sam did a great job on the notes.”

Hooper holds a commanding 23-point championship lead heading into the Midsummer Stages at Caerwent on June 16.