GASS'S PROMISE THWARTED Darren Gass and Neil Shanks had high hopes for the Ulster International Rally this weekend, but disaster struck before they had even reached the first stage. After a successful test and driving guests on the Ulster...
GASS'S PROMISE THWARTED
Darren Gass and Neil Shanks had high hopes for the Ulster International Rally this weekend, but disaster struck before they had even reached the first stage.
After a successful test and driving guests on the Ulster Rally press day, the Markethill youngster was ready to entertain his home fans in Armagh. With at least one of the stages passing within a few hundred yards of Darren's house and a good recce with his Scottish co-driver, their disappointment was plain as they returned to the service area.
"We set off to the start in the Mall in Armagh, signed some autographs and returned to make our final tyre choice before the first stage," explained Darren, "There was what felt like a bit of engine movement while we were in the traffic, but I put it down to the fierce clutch and trying to drive slowly in town."
The problem would only become clear on the 55 minute run to the first stage, when a broken engine mount was discovered. "It got worse and we had to stop and check under the bonnet," said Neil, "it was only then that we found the broken mount. It had cracked in two places and there was no point in continuing and causing more damage."
When the car returned to service it was a simple repair, but they would take no further part in Friday's proceedings, electing to watch the rest of the field instead. Super Rally rules that saved them several times last year in their Fiesta now came into play again, allowing them to restart on Saturday.
With no pressure Darren pushed on stages familiar to him, setting some impressive times in the 1600cc Citroen C2, but it came to an abrupt end on the final stage when they ended the rally in a ditch. Unable to recover the car in time, they were forced to use Super Rally again, scoring points in the Rally 3 class by returning the car to parc ferme before the end.
The team is now waiting for gravel suspension to arrive in readiness for the next round of the British Rally Championship, Rally Yorkshire in early October.
Darren would like to thank Quarryfix Ltd, Cheevers Chemists, Dalzells of Markethill, Haffey Plant Hire, Killycarn Sand & Gravel , EMC Autopax, AC Vehicle Components, Sligo Pallets, Castrol, ID Graphics (NI) and Crozier Motorsport Engineering for their support in 2007.