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RALLY NEWS No.11 - RALLYNEWS No.11 - Saturday @ 15:00:25
RALLY NEWS NO.11 Antrim/Saturday

1st (W2) Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Impreza WRC)
2nd (W1) Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Focus WRC)
3rd (W4) Aaron MacHale/Eugene O'Donnell (Focus WRC)
4th (W5) Arjen de Koning/Hein Verschuuren (Lancer WRC)

1st (4) Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts (Fiesta S2000)
2nd (2) Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Impreza N)
3rd (3) Alastair Fisher/Rory Kennedy (Lancer N)
4th (9) Adam Gould/Craig Drew (Impreza N)
5th (7) Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (Citroen DS3 R3)
6th (28) Daniel McKenna/Andrew Grennan (Lancer N)
7th (5) Jonny Greer/Dai Roberts (Lancer N)
8th (8) Jason Pritchard/Robbie Durant (Impreza N)
9th (24) Marty McCormack/David Moynihan (Citroen C2R2 Max)
10th (18) Mark Donnelly/Stephen O'Hanlon (Lancer N)

In the WRC part of the rally Derek McGarrity was a couple of seconds faster than Gareth MacHale but still only leads by 11.9 seconds with 2 stages to go. The Rally NI section is a lot more clear cut with Craig Breen now having 1min26 seconds of the lead over Keith Cronin. When the World Rally Cars came into service Derek McGarrity said: “We’ve been going hard as hard as I want to go. Certainly we are almost 12 seconds in front, which is better than being 12 seconds behind, but still it might not be enough. Gareth MacHale commented: “We did push hard over those stages, and had a good run, but fair play to Derek he drove well.” Gareth then intimated that the rally was all over in Derek’s favour. However, knowing the MacHale’s for over 30 years they never ever give up!

In the Rally NI Craig Breen said: “All is good. Gwyndaf being gone takes the pressure of everybody.” Keith Cronin agreed with those sentiments but he still has to keep pushing on to stay ahead of Alastair Fisher. However, Keith’s main aim is the British Championship and in reality if Keith finishes anywhere in the top ten of Rally Yorkshire, even if Gwyndaf was to win, Keith will almost certainly retain his title. Alistair Fisher had a good run over Cairncastle and seem to loose out a bit on Slemish and feels that the stages with lots of junctions aren’t being good to him. Although Alastair is only 19 seconds behind Keith Cronin (Keith has been knocked back a minute because of a road penalty). His main aim is to score points in the Citroen Tarmac Championship and Keith Cronin doesn’t really affect that. If positions stay much the same as they are, Gareth MacHale will become favourite and then it will be between Alastair, Aaron MacHale and Craig Breen. Alastair is just 4 seconds down on Aaron so there is still a battle between these two.

Adam Gould is very solid in 4th place now and feels that the little bit of time that he is losing to the leaders is possibly down to his older model Subaru not being just as sharp away from the junctions. Daniel McKenna pushed hard through SS11 and was third fast4est and is now embroiled in a battle with Jonny Greer. However, Jonny who leads the UK Evo Challenge section is concentrating more on points and Daniel McKenna doesn’t affect that. When we asked Daniel if he would consider doing the British Championship next year, he said, “We’re thinking about it. I did this rally just to compare the times so considering we’re in a hire car, I think we could compete. Unfortunately, I would probably have to get rid of my Escort which I don’t want to do. There is so much that has gone into it.”

Bryan Bouffier told us that his new Citroen DS3 R3 has been going so well over the last few stages, no problems at all. Bryan wants now to successfully see the car through to the finish today and then he is home to France and straight off to the Czech Republic for the Barum Rally at Zlin. Next weekend he drives a 207 S2000. Ah the life of a professional rally driver!!! Jason Pritchard has been setting good times over the last few stages as he gets more confidence in his Impreza. Although, he did skim into a hedge on the last corner of SS12 but with no real problem. Marty McCormack reports the power steering fluid in his C2R2 Max boiling and the actual input to the steering is erratic. He reckons the engine oil he put in earlier has contaminated the system.

Elfyn Evans is 14th and second in Class 2 and it looks as if Elfyn can get the car to the finish of the rally, he will win the UK Fiesta Sporting Trophy. Mark Donnelly leads the Citroen Sporting Trophy UK contenders. Mark is driving the car as hard as it will go now and is being rapidly overhauled by Mark Sheehan in his example. Mark however, is not registered for the UK Citroen’s so Donnelly is not too worried about him. Mark does however want to stay ahead of Matti Rantanen in the Twingo which will increase his prize money. Nikara reports that he has been going well over the last few stages, almost perfect but still loses time to the fastest Citroens as the car seems to lack the power in the dry conditions. Andrew Bushe reckons he was lucky to make service, his C2 S1600 cutting out through the last stage and on the road section. Andrew reckons the fuel gauge is giving the wrong reading or there must be a sensor going faulty.

In Rally Germany, Petter Solberg was fastest through SS11 from Loeb. Overall Loeb still has a commanding lead from Sordo, Ogier third, Latvala fourth, Hirvonen fifth, Duval sixth and Petter seventh following his punctures.

More news later: BRIAN PATTERSON & THE ‘LIZETTES’ www.rallynews.net
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