Double-header finale in Wexford brings Irish Mitsubishi series to an exciting conclusion. Next weekend's Riverbank House Hotel Dick Bailey Stages, better known as the Wexford Rally, will see a five-way battle for honours between the leading ...
Double-header finale in Wexford brings Irish Mitsubishi series to an exciting conclusion.
Next weekend's Riverbank House Hotel Dick Bailey Stages, better known as the Wexford Rally, will see a five-way battle for honours between the leading Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland crews, all of whom have a real chance of lifting the 2009 title.
With entry numbers building since the opening round and the series providing four different winners so far, this year's Irish Evo Challenge has seen the leading teams locked in combat throughout the season.
The Wexford-based event is the third of the year's double headers, which means there is a possible 24 points (12 for each day) on offer for the winner. However, each crew must drop three scores, a factor which shakes up the permutations even more.
Currently topping the Irish Evolution Challenge driver's tables is William Mavitty on 42 points. However, he still has to drop one round and seven points, but has the potential of finishing with a total score of 59.
Next highest placed driver is Stanley Ballantine on 40 points. He is another to have to drop a score - in this case six points - and therefore could end his season on 58.
Liam Egan led the series early in the season following a string of consistent results but his excellent finishing record means that, whatever the outcome this weekend, he will have to drop a minimum of eight points, which sees him with a maximum potential score of 55 points.
Having missed the previous round in Ulster due to a family vacation, Neil McCance will be back to finish his season as he started, with a win on both days. Having 34 points on the board and already zero-scoring on four rounds, McCance does not need to drop any points and therefore, with an achievable target of 58, is in prime position to snatch the title.
However, if recent form is anything to go by, McCance's biggest challenge will come from Alan Carmichael, who's victory in both the Irish and UK Evo Challenges last time out in Ulster has not only boosted his confidence, but proved that he has the pace to win as well. Currently on 32 points and, with no dropped scores to take into account, a double-first this weekend would see him achieve an end-of season tally of 56.
Although not in with a shot at the big prize, local driver Tom White is hoping to put his season's bad luck behind him and pull a top result out of the bag on his home soil and, in doing so, bring his first season in the Evo Challenge to a deserving conclusion.
Notable absentees from this event are three others who, albeit with an outside chance, could have mathematically claimed the title: John McGlaughlin, who has won one two occasions and will be on his honeymoon next weekend. Winner of the first two rounds Keith Cronin will be rebuilding his car following Ulster and setting his sights on the final round of the British Rally Championship at the end of the month. And finally, Geoff McMahon, who's work commitments have meant that a full assault on the series has not been possible.
Organisers of the Evolution Challenge are therefore delighted that eight drivers and as many co-drivers could have potentially claimed the top prize this season.
The Riverbank House Hotel Dick Bailey Stages features a straight-forward format, with two stages ran three times on Saturday and another two stages ran three times on Sunday. The rally schedule allows for a service interval after every two, the total competitive distance of the weekend's 12 stages measuring 237 kilometres.
The Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland is supported by: Pirelli tyres, Sunoco Racing Fuels, James Foley Rallysport, Carbone Lorraine, Murray Motorsport, Speedline Corse wheels, PIAA lights, Pacenotes, Sparco racewear and Mitsubishi Motors Ireland.