WRC IS TRULY AMAZING!
The World Rally Championship in 2017 has turned out to be absolutely amazing! With each of the four manufactures cars winning the first four events we then had the Hyundai i20 of Thierry Neuville take his second win on the bounce in Argentina on the last weekend in April.
Poor Elfyn Evans having led Rally Argentina from the start in his M-Sport DMACK Ford Fiesta was beaten by 1.3 seconds on the final Power Stage by Neuville and so lost the rally to the hard charging Belgian by just 0.7 seconds! Malcolm Wilson’s three-car M-Sport team had a good event. Ott Tanak was third while championship leader Sebastien Ogier had, for him, a low-key event but still managed a hat full of points with a fourth place. That meant there were three M-Sport Fiesta’s in the top four.
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle were lucky to escape injury on the Saturday when their Citroen C3 rolled an estimated fourteen times and was totally destroyed in a second big crash in as many days on the event which they won in 2015. Craig Breen crashed his C3 on Friday at the same corner as Meeke but was back on Sunday. He just missed out on Power Stage points when he finished sixth fastest and was classified 15th overall for the event. Clearly Citroen still have some work to do if the new C3 is able to take more wins this year! The glory of the Meeke Mexico victory seems a distant memory now!
With regard to the championship; Ogier still leads with 102 points followed by Jari-Matti Latvala who was fifth in Argentina with his Toyota Yaris on 86, Neuville has 84 and Tanak 66. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) is fifth on 51; Evans is sixth with 42 points while Breen is seventh with 33. Kris Meeke is a lowly ninth on 27.
If you can, check out the live stages of the WRC on the internet. WRC+ is fantastic with a least two stages per event broadcast live. I have become addicted to the in-car videos and if you miss the live action you can watch a replay at anytime! The next event is Rally Portugal from Thursday 18th-Sunday 21st May. I hope to get to Rally Spain in October to witness the new breed of faster, nosier and more exciting World Rally Cars for myself!
Closer to home and I was out on two different events during April. The first was the Maiden City Motor Club’s Lark in the Park Rally. We were covering radio points and rescue on an 8-mile stage in Co.Donegal. With just 46 cars taking part everything went smoothly. As well as four passes over our stage the competitors had 3 spectator-friendly runs around St. Columb’s Park in Londonderry/Derry City. Truly a cross-border event! The winners here were pre-event favourites Donagh Kelly and Conor Foley in a 2008 Ford Focus WRC. Their only competition came from a well driven Skoda Fabia R5 of Joe McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney.
The second event was Cookstown Motor Club’s Slate Fuels Targa Rally which was based largely in Davagh Forest in Co.Tyrone. These Targa Rallies are hugely popular here in Northern Ireland and this particular event had attracted a large entry of 80 cars. Of these no less than 40 were Mazda MX5’s which would seem to be the vehicle of choice for this autotest/lanes type of event. A total of 18 short mixed surface tests were the order of the day. For example I was on the finish of Test 1/7/13 which was just 0.32 miles long. It started in a small tarmac car park where two pylons were circled twice, then continued on to gravel with a hairpin and two stop-astride lines before crossing the finish in a cloud of dust! Fastest time was just 50 seconds! Cheap motorsport and lots of fun. You can use your road car if you are so inclined but most of the top guys bring theirs on trailers. Winners were Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson in (you’ve guessed it) a Mazda MX5!
SAT. 6TH MAY
GLENS OF ANTRIM RALLY
BMMC/BRMC marshals will be out in force timing and covering other duties on this the third round of the MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship. Organised by Mid Antrim MC the closed road event uses three classic stages in the Glens which are run twice. The first test is Pollan FCD 10.40 (4.75 miles) followed by Glendun at 11.12 (8.62 miles) and Torr Head 11.39 (7.96 miles). Derek McGarrity Ford Fiesta WRC and Jonny Greer Citroen DS3 R5 head a huge entry of almost 100 competitors which are due to leave the Ballycastle start at 10am.