McCLOSKEY MAKES TOP TWENTY ON DEBUT MANX Connor McCloskey partnered by MSA Elite Academy's Robbie Durant, took an excellent eighteenth place overall on this weekend's newly named Rally Isle of Man. It was the youngster from Kilrea in ...
McCLOSKEY MAKES TOP TWENTY ON DEBUT MANX
Connor McCloskey partnered by MSA Elite Academy's Robbie Durant, took an excellent eighteenth place overall on this weekend's newly named Rally Isle of Man.
It was the youngster from Kilrea in Northern Ireland's first attempt at the International event and his goal before the rally was threefold. "I only met Robbie on the Tuesday before the start and we started out with some simple goals." said Connor, "We agreed that we needed to finish, gain experience of the stages and add some points to the Championship pot, simple."
The first day unearthed a potential problem that could easily have scuppered any chances of getting to the finish unscathed. "I hadn't looked at the event schedule too closely, so the car arrived without a lamp pod. A mistake, as the last three stages on Thursday ran into darkness. But we drove to the conditions and I was actually quite pleased to see we'd only dropped a couple of places after the five stages."
Friday dawned overcast and the big decision was tyre choice. The newly acquainted crew took a gamble based on reports from the other side of the island and chose slicks for the first loop of three stages. It soon became clear that intermediates were required. But again, they drove at a sensible pace and aside from a couple of minor scares in the slippery conditions, they arrived unflustered at service and this time they had climbed a handful of places.
Another seven stages stood between the young crew and the end of the second day as they continued their climb up the leaderboard. A clutch fault kept the DGM mechanics busy as the evening drew on, but it only temporarily affected down-changes before the problem was resolved. They dispatched a further seven places by the close of play, even posting a twelfth fastest time on the second run through the short Ramsey spectator stage.
Saturday started well with consistent stage times and after the penultimate service the final five stages seemed to click for the pair. "We had taken a while to get used to each other and as we decided to modify Patterson's notes we weren't fully comfortable until the last leg," explained Connor, "The last five stages were spot-on and times were hovering around the top twenty. It moved us up another twelve places to 18th, a real confidence builder."
"Robbie was really enthusiastic and it was only after the rally that he reminded me of the goals we'd set ourselves. We had plenty of little dramas on the way but it has left me feeling really good about the rest of the season." The result keeps Connor in equal fourth place in the Mitsubishi Evolution Challenge and only two points away from a top ten position in the British Rally Championship. Coupled with his sixth place in the Pirelli Irish Tarmac Group N series, he has just cause to be optimistic for the next round, the Ulster Rally at the start of September.