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by Brian & Liz Patterson

Irish Notes 13th June 2018.

Two ‘stings in the tail’ hit World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia at the end of last weekend’s Rally Sardinia. One was that Thierry Neuville/Nicholas Gilsoul in their Hyundai beat the M-Sport Ford crew of Ogier/Ingrassia on the final stage to win the rally as well as increase their lead in the WRC points standings. The other sting was a severe slap on the wrist from the stewards for not taking their time card from the marshal at the penultimate stage control. Said time card was then delivered to the Fiesta crew by Ott Tanak. Ogier must have known when he started that critical final stage that he could have been in trouble for the timecard mishap. However he denied that there was any problem. Surely though, there must have been some little annoyance in the back of his mind? He is only human. Or is he?

The Frenchman reported that it was a straight fight and very enjoyable. Both drivers were definitely ‘on the edge’. Perhaps Neuville took the bigger chances. The Belgian won the rally by 0.7 of a second. It was certainly a thrilling drive by both men, and was certainly the highlight of the rally. Esapekka Lappi finished 3rd in his Toyota, which was quite significant, while many others, including Craig Breen, had various troubles during the tough event. Breen’s Citroen seemed to have a disconnect issue between the handbrake and the engine which meant the motor cutting out at critical moments – very disappointing for the Waterford man. And of course Kris Meeke was absent, which left a bit of a gaping hole both for the team and the rally. Ironic really when the next rally for the WRC brigade is the ‘1000 Lakes’, which of course has provided a heroic win for Kris, and was a landmark for British drivers.

Closer to home, Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson in their Subaru Impreza WRC took a start to finish win on the Modern Tyres backed Mourne Rally, round 3 of the McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship. McGarrity was untroubled at the front, his win strengthening his position in the NI Championship. Damien Toner/Denver Rafferty produced another marvellous drive in their Escort but it was a forlorn hope that they could catch the world rally car in front. 2nd overall and best two wheel-drive was their reward, although as Damien remarked at the finish. “The stages were tricky, we had great weather and we really enjoyed the day.” Camillus Bradley had a day long tussle with David Armstrong, both in Escorts, with Camillus just getting the edge towards the end to take 3rd. Paul Britton won GpN and finished 6th, just ahead of James Laverty who was also in a GpN Impreza.

On the Portlaoise based Heartlands Rally Jonathan Pringle/John Butler took victory by 3seconds from Enda O’Brien/John Butler in a similar Escort. Alan Smyth/Mac Kierans were 3rd in a Lancer.

Also last weekend, Paul Bird/Jack Morton in their Focus WRC took victory to increase their lead in the BTRDA series. Expected front runner Matt Edwards was plagued with mechanical troubles but fought back brilliantly to 2nd overall. Martin Cairns and Gary McElhinney eventually finished just outside the top ten after setting some good times on the latter part of the event. In the Historic section of the the rally, Paul Barrett was expected to feature but his Escort BDA suffered a fire at the start of stage 2 on Friday evening. Matthew Robinson eventually took the MSA Historic round win.

Looking forward to this weekend, it is take a deep breath time for rally fans as the strongest entry of the year tackle the classic Donegal stages over the course of the three days, Friday through to Sunday. The entry is extremely strong in just about every category and the prospect of the rally battle ahead is quite mouth watering. This really is one of those ‘Gentlemen Start Your Engines” occasions!

Other current news is the selection of Leo Hassett to replace the long serving Alex Sinclair as CEO of Motorsport Ireland. Alex is reportedly staying on for a few months to assist Mr Hassett in the settling in period.

Sadly we finish with the news that Martin Birrane has died. Martin was a colourful character, a former racing driver of note and successful businessman who also owned Mondello racetrack. To his family, friends and associates we offer our deepest condolences.


2018 Patterson Agencies

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