MACHALE FIGHTS ON Gareth MacHale and Paul Nagle hold 15th place on Wales Rally GB after a fraught second day in the forests of south Wales The crew began the second day well with the first two stages Crychan and Epynt passing without incident,...
MACHALE FIGHTS ON
Gareth MacHale and Paul Nagle hold 15th place on Wales Rally GB after a fraught second day in the forests of south Wales
The crew began the second day well with the first two stages Crychan and Epynt passing without incident, but the drama began on the third stage of the day, Halfway, Coincidentally about half the mileage of the event was complete but Gareth and Paul were caught out twice, losing around 25 seconds.
After the overnight halt they had been re-seeded and as per the WRC rules, the top crews run in reverse order, putting Gareth second car on the road. "The stages were very greasy with the rain making the surface like a fine mulch." Explained Gareth, "We came into a square right a bit too fast and went straight on and into some grass. It must have cost us about ten seconds as all four wheels were spinning scrabbling for grip in the mud. It was very frustrating."
Later in the same stage a mile or so after the infamous Dixies crossroads another corner caught them out. "It was a fifth gear left hander and we were slightly off line for the following tight right." said Paul, "You could see the line the car in front had taken and it was definitely tighter. We cleared a small ditch and ended up on two wheels; I could see the ground out of my window!"
Although they didn't lose much time, the tyres had pushed off the rims and collected a wedge of mud, making the remaining eight miles very difficult. "There was an awful vibration after we hit the bank and we couldn't tell exactly what it was," said Gareth, "So we took it relatively easy." Despite their caution they still posted twelfth fastest time and moved back into thirteenth on the next stage after dropping a place earlier in the day.
The following two stages were repeats of the morning ones with Halfway the final forest test before the Millennium Stadium Super Special. Both Gareth and Paul reported that they held their breaths towards the end of the eighteen miler as the heavens opened. "It rained so hard that the wipers couldn't keep up and that's not good on sixth gear 120mph flowing forest tracks." said Gareth.
It was not a forest track that caused them to miss the Super Special but a problem on the road section, "We were about twelve kilometres away from Cardiff when we lost drive," shrugged Gareth, "We pulled over and tried everything we could to fix it but the clutch would not engage and we went over our allotted time limit. Tom Gahan's technicians have repaired it back at service and we've taken a five minute penalty for missing the stage, so we can re-start tomorrow under the WRC Super Rally rules."
The drama did not drop the pair more than two places overall so they are still in with a chance of a good finish. But they will treat tomorrow's four stages as a test and an opportunity to hone their pacenotes for future attempts at Rally GB.
The rally has a 06.40 restart with 112 kilometres between the crews and the 15.41 Cardiff City centre finish.