There were, it turns out, two Micra rally cars for the then 17-year-old.
“I rolled the first one,” he said. “But it only cost me £250 to build, so there was definitely a feeling that it was more economical to buy a new one rather than trying to fix the old one!
“I remember that first event in the first car, I had Alastair Dodd co-driving for me. He was the son of Formula 1000 (junior rally series held in Britain) co-ordinator Tristan Dodd.
“They knew everything about Micras and gave me a hand with my car. I spent a good few hours with them in the garage getting the car ready for the first event.”
Micra Mk 1 lasted four-and-a-half rallies before a now famous stretch of Route 60, a road on the Epynt military ranges in south Wales.
“Remember the place Andreas Mikkelsen rolled [on the 2007 Wales Rally GB]? I rolled in the same place, but going in the other direction.
“By then we’d already found another Micra. The first one was right-hand drive and really I was after a left-hand drive car, which was the second one. I used that for the rest of the season, then we moved to the Fiesta ST.”
Was the Micra a good car? There’s a fairly long pause.
“It had 50bhp,” is the answer. “It wasn’t the fastest thing to drive at that time, but as a way of getting into the sport it was great. And the [Formula 1000] championship was ideal because you were all there and all in the same cars.”
It’s 14 years since that pair of Micras launched the Welshman on a trajectory that would take him to the top of the WRC standings today.
“It doesn’t feel that long ago,” he said. “But maybe that’s just me trying to tell myself I’m not getting old!”
Preview photo copyrighted to Chris Huish/RallySport Media