McCLOSKEY ROBBED AT LAST GASP Connor McCloskey's tenth place in the British Rally Championship on the 2007 Ulster International Rally, could so easily have been fifth, but for a mystery engine fault before the final stage. The County...
McCLOSKEY ROBBED AT LAST GASP
Connor McCloskey's tenth place in the British Rally Championship on the 2007 Ulster International Rally, could so easily have been fifth, but for a mystery engine fault before the final stage.
The County Londonderry driver and his Oxfordshire co-driver, Robbie Durant had to resort to Super Rally regulations, which impose a hefty ten minute time penalty for every incomplete stage. Fortunately his position and the gaps between drivers meant the one missed stage still left him in the top ten.
"We've had a difficult season and it would have been nice to pick up decent Irish Championship points," said a dejected Connor as he walked into the Armagh City Hotel service area, minus car. "I suppose it is some consolation to be in the top ten BRC."
The rally didn't start well for the pair, resorting to pushing the car from the start ramp to first service. "We had a leaking clutch pipe," said a breathless Connor, "and we had to push the car from the Mall back to service as I couldn't drive it without the clutch in the traffic." The problem was easily remedied but they collected penalties for leaving service late.
By the end of the first day they lay eighth and with a seventh fastest on day two's opening stage, Connor was on a charge. The weather was, however very changeable and on the very next test he was caught out on a slippery square corner, dropping the nose of the Mitsubishi in a ditch. Spectators were on hand to extricate them but at a price. They dropped over a minute to the BRC front-runners and with it one place to Championship leader Wyn Humphreys.
A big push saw them reel in the Welshman and by the penultimate stage they were back in front. But the cruellest blow had been hinted at on that stage. "The car had a bit of a stutter in (stage) fifteen," explained a disconsolate Connor at the service park, "Then it just died on the road section to the final stage."
The car eventually restarted but on three cylinders, so Connor decided to call it a day and save damaging the engine further. "Tenth place is hardly a consolation," he said at the finish, "but we've set some good times and up 'til that point the car had run faultlessly."
The next event sees a switch back to gravel when they return to International Rally Yorkshire in early October.
Connor and the team would like to thank Egger (wood based panels), Euro Components, KBB Doors, Pirelli and Shell Racing Fuels for their continued support in 2007