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Manx International Rally
RALLY NEWS No.12 - After SS21 - Monday @ 16:51:57

RALLY NEWS NO.12 Grandstand/Saturday/1.45

1st (4) Mark Higgins/Rory Kennedy (Impreza N)
2nd (1) Eamonn Boland/Damien Morrissey (Impreza WRC)
3rd (3) Guy Wilks/David Moynihan (Lancer N)
4th (5) David Higgins/Ieuan Thomas (Impreza N)
5th (10) James Wozencroft/Chris Ridge (Impreza N)
6th (9) Darren Gass/Neil Shanks (Lancer N)
7th (18) Brian O'Mahony/John Higgins (Clio S1600)
8th (17) Guy Woodcock/John Skinner (Escort Maxi)
9th (12) Jonny Greer/Jonny Hart (Lancer N)
10th (27) David Meredith/Dai Roberts (Lancer N)

Mark Higgins was kicking himself following that loop of 2 stages along the Marine Road and then up over Cringle. Mark had thought land and hard about tyre choice just before he left service, he heard a whisper about some rain in the offing and plumped for intermediate tyres. This turned out to be a real disaster of a choice and he dropped chunks of time to Eamonn Boland through the 2 stages which means Eamonn is just 15s behind with 2 stages to go. Mark said when he reached service. “I can’t believe it, not a drop of damp anywhere. After all this, to be so close”. He also said that the next stage has lots of straights which will suite Eamonn. What Mark didn’t say was that the final stage, the Classic, will suit him down to the ground. Certainly he is under massive pressure now where a few stages ago it looked like he had it in the bag. Rory Kennedy emerged from Mark’s Subaru rubbing his shoulder and saying that he had hurt it yesterday at the big jump over the railway line in the Ballajora test. Rory was also in an unbelieving frame of mind as regards having looked so certain for the Manx victory which has always eluded him, and now its all up in the air. One of the things that Rory said was. “On those tyres I could just feel the time haemorrhaging away”.

As far as Eamonn Boland is concerned, yes, he wants to win this rally but the Tarmac Championship is just as important. He said. “We’ll not do anything stupid, it is so slippy even in the dry. We got stuck in one of the chicanes in that last stage, apart from that it is going well”. If Eamonn wins this rally outright today he wins the Tarmac title, if he finishes 2nd he will need to go to the next round and score some points.

Guy Wilks reported a puncture on stage 21 but it cost very little time and said he is still pushing quite hard. David Higgins under steered at a junction and crunched the front of his Subaru against a gate post. Darren Gass struggled through stage 21 with his clutch pedal going to the floor and had problems getting gears. James Wozencroft had a spin in stage 21, overheated his clutch slightly and he some slipping problems for a few miles and then it cleared. Jonny Greer has been setting a few good times, and he said that now he is out of contention he has been drying different damper clicks and the car is more driveable.

Guy Woodcock crashed his Escort Maxi on the very slippy bit of road just before the hairpin right on to the Round Table. Guy managed to get the car out of the stage but seemed to be running late on his way into service. John McGlaughlin has crashed his Lancer and is stopped in stage 21. This is a real disaster for the young Cookstown man who was on course for maximum group N points in the Tarmac Championship. We are also getting reports that Ross Forde has crashed his Suzuki and Mark Gamble has moved back into the lead of the Suzuki Swift Sport contenders. Martin O’Donnell continues to lead class R1, the Donegal man said his Civic is not handling very well and his main priority is to get to the finish and get maximum Tarmac class points. This should tie up the class for him for the year. Brian O’Mahony had a big 5th gear spin on the Marine stage and then crumpled the bumper of his Clio when he hit the bank on the slippy bit of road up on top of Cringle. Jason Pritchard continues to lead the Citroen C2R2s and lead class R2. Jason said when he arrived at service. “We played it very safe, picked intermediate tyres, keeping it steady”.

On the Swansea Bay Rally Keith Cronin is leading with David Bogie 2nd and Richard Cathcart 2nd in the Evo Challenge.

More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON

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