Seventeen year-old 'A' level student Darren Gass from Markethill in Northern Ireland will join the Super 1600 battle in his impressive new steed on the first round of the British Rally Championship in Carlisle. The youngster will use the same...
Seventeen year-old 'A' level student Darren Gass from Markethill in Northern Ireland will join the Super 1600 battle in his impressive new steed on the first round of the British Rally Championship in Carlisle.
The youngster will use the same Group A6 Fiesta in which he took a fine class win on Rally Ireland in March and in which he holds third in class in the Irish series. Darren is the youngest registered driver in the British Rally Championship, but unfazed by the task ahead, he has pinched the reigning Production category co-driver for his first outing on gravel.
Neil Shanks is no stranger to the series and sat with Darren on the Circuit of Ireland in April. "He is very confident for someone of his age," commented Neil, "but when you look at the cars he's driven and co-driven it's no surprise." It will be strange competing against Barry (Clark) after last year, but it won't stop us from trying our hardest."
Darren's regular successful outings in a similar powered Rallycross Saxo Kit car gave him an excellent grounding in front wheel drive. He also contested five rallies in 2005, including finishing second in class on the Ulster International Rally and a very impressive ninth overall on the Galloway Hills Rally on his debut in a four wheel drive car, all after turning seventeen in late June.
Crozier Motorsport will look after the car this year, with the guidance of two M-Sport technicians, who will attend each rally with the necessary spares. The team tested with M-Sport at the Sweetlamb forestry complex in late April, driving Barry Clark's similar Fiesta to fine-tune the settings. "Roman Kresta had done most of the set-up work beforehand," explained Darren, "so it was more of a chance to feel how the car behaves on the loose. I don't expect to be on the pace of those guys straight away, as I'm not even sure whether to make my own pace-notes yet!"
The first round of the new-look British series is based in Carlisle and after a city centre start early on Saturday, the stages are mainly in the infamous Kielder Forest complex. The service area at Carlisle Airport to the east of the city will be the hub of activity on Saturday and Sunday, with the spectator special stage at nearby Newby Grange. A total of 115 miles of fast gravel tracks await the crews who will all be looking forward to a fierce battle and the finish in Carlisle on Sunday afternoon.