"Dale Overnight Lead" The Stena Line Ulster Rally - Leg 1, 6th September 2002 Leg 1 of the Stena Line Ulster Rally, the 6th round of the Pirelli British Rally Championship left Belfast city centre in bright sunshine and rapidly drying roads ...
"Dale Overnight Lead"
The Stena Line Ulster Rally - Leg 1, 6th September 2002
Leg 1 of the Stena Line Ulster Rally, the 6th round of the Pirelli British Rally Championship left Belfast city centre in bright sunshine and rapidly drying roads which Peugeot Super 1600 Championship contender Justin Dale found to his disadvantage as he was running first on the road. However, he laid down the gauntlet from the beginning setting fastest stage times on the first three stages. Teammate Rory Galligan had a challenging start, rolling his car after landing badly on a bump on a 6th gear section, losing three minutes on the 9 mile first stage, Tardree 1.
Privateer Martin Sansom in his Peugeot 106 Maxi was slowed by an accident to another competitor and also exited the stage with some bodywork damage. James Thompson was not so lucky and was seen stopped in stage, after having a problem with the "Galligan" bump.
Dale reported Stage 2, Glendun 1, "very bumpy and slippery under the trees", whilst Galligan was settling in again after his first stage mishap.
Dale was fastest again on Stage 3 and at first service at Glenariff was leading the Super 1600 Category by 28 seconds.
There were a further three stages before the overnight halt, a re-run of the first loop, and Galligan began to pull back some of his lost time, only 4 seconds behind Dale on Stage 5. At the Service In after this stage, he commented that he was "getting a better humour back!"
Dale was "nice and comfortable, but pushing on obviously". He added, "it's hard to know the pace. I took the safe option of intermediates on that last two stages, but should have taken the brave option of slicks."
Martin Sansom reckoned that he too was on the wrong tyres, even though the right ones were in the boot. It was just that the road section was too tight to allow them time to change.
With one last stage, a rerun of the first, the crews were headed back towards Belfast for the overnight halt. Dale came through this stage saying "I've enjoyed the night stage, and would like some more in the Championship." Team-mate Galligan however found the shattered windscreen from the earlier accident made driving in the dark very difficult. He will get this changed in Parc Ferme tonight, to start Leg 2 with clear vision.
Overnight, Dale leads the Super 1600 category comfortably with one minute 11 seconds in hand over the MG steed of Gwyndaf Evans and Chris Patterson. Simon Hughes, former Super 106 Cup runner, now in a Citroen takes up 3rd. Dale also is lying in 6th place overall, two places behind Championship rival Jonny Milner in the Toyota WRC car. More...
Tomorrow's second leg begins at Draperstown at 06.20 followed by Stage 7 in nearby Davagh 1 at 06.43. Eight stages totalling some 75 miles to the west of Belfast will greet the crews before the 2002 Stena Line Ulster Rally finishes back in Belfast city centre at 4pm.