McCLOSKEY OPENS BRC ACCOUNT Connor McCloskey and co-driver Damien Connelly took seventeenth place overall on the first round of the British Rally Championship despite losing two minutes with a puncture early in the rally. The Egger backed...
McCLOSKEY OPENS BRC ACCOUNT
Connor McCloskey and co-driver Damien Connelly took seventeenth place overall on the first round of the British Rally Championship despite losing two minutes with a puncture early in the rally.
The Egger backed crew took the decision to use their older Mitsubishi Evolution 8 on the Pirelli International Rally which was also the first round of the UK's Mitsubishi Evolution Challenge. "As this was our first gravel BRC event, we decided to use the Evo 8 and save the Evo 9 for the asphalt events." Said Connor, "But when we saw the entry list and arrived to see the competition in their later cars, I wished I could pop back to Ireland and get ours!"
The sixteen stage event was based in the infamous Kielder forest complex but Connor and Damien were relaxed at the start and posted good times on the opening stages, lying just inside the top twenty after the first pair. Stage three was another story though. The crew suffered a puncture on the front left hand tyre, making negotiating right-hand corners very tricky. "We decided not to stop," explained Connor, "and we certainly dropped less time than if we'd changed it, but we lost around two minutes and eight places overall."
Sporting some minor body damage as a result of the flailing tyre, the pair got straight back into their stride on the very next stage, the short P-Zero spectator special. They set twelfth quickest time but amongst the eleven in front were six former British rally champions. "I was really mad that we'd dropped the time in stage three and there aren't many trees to hit on P-Zero so we had a bit of fun to make up for it." said Connor. By the end of day one and another top fifteen time through the last stage of the day, P-Zero, the Northern Irish crew had climbed back up six places and were confident of a good run on Sunday.
Just six stages separated the cars and drivers from the finish back in Carlisle and Connor set about classic stages like Kershope and Chirdonhead for the second time. Up front the battle for overall honours proved the competitiveness of the new-look British Rally Championship. Seven former BRC champions and several one-make champions were joined in battle but Connor admitted he needed more experience before mixing it at the front. "These guys have all done events like this before so I'm glad to be within sight of them on my first outing in Kielder. And we'd have been even closer if we'd brought the new car so it is encouraging for future events."
The Sunday stages were short and sweet but the penultimate twelve mile Chirdonhead test reminded them what rallying in Kielder was all about. "We both had a sweat on by half way but then we caught a car. It was frustrating as we were stuck in the dust for miles and there's no way past when the other guy can't see you behind. We still enjoyed the event and I think after the puncture yesterday sixth in the Evo Challenge is a good result." said Connor at the finish.