McELHINNEY AND McCORMACK ON THE ULSTER DOUBLE The exciting new Citroen C2 R2 Irish Cup reached a dramatic double header event at the weekend, and no less an event than the Ulster International Rally. A round of the British C2 R2 Cup and with the...
McELHINNEY AND McCORMACK ON THE ULSTER DOUBLE
The exciting new Citroen C2 R2 Irish Cup reached a dramatic double header event at the weekend, and no less an event than the Ulster International Rally. A round of the British C2 R2 Cup and with the presence of the Citroen works team, with their new C2 R2 Max, and Sebastien Ogier, reckoned to be a future World Rally Champion, the service area in Armagh was a Citroen spectacular, as the cars lined up ready to tackle the Charles Hurst and Total supported Irish Cup. Leg one, took in six special stages, two of which were tackled in darkness, and the Ulster Rally is known to be a highly demanding, technical event, but the C2's proved very capable on the event, with only one retirement amongst the Irish Cup crews.
Leg one was dominated largely by Martin McCormack and Liam Moynihan, the Draperstown driver on superb form and setting top four two wheel drive times on the stages. Indeed Marty was to take fastest C2 times on all but two of the day's stages, but one of those was to prove critical. The final Parkanaur stage in the dark, and a large rock pulled out by another driver, caused a puncture which dropped the Fisher award winner 50 seconds and from first to third on the round leader-board. "It was just sitting there in the middle of the road, we couldn't avoid it, and the tyre went down almost immediately. We drove to the end of the stage, but unfortunately lost that time." That left the door open for Donegal driver Adrian McElhinney who has shown great form after a second place in round four the Stonethrowers. Adrian set second fastest times on the first four tests, but was fastest on stage five and set a storming time in the dark on stage six, almost thirty seconds ahead of his C2 rivals, to take a well deserved victory. . "The car ran very well all day, though Marty was taking some time off us most of the day, though I wasn't paying that much attention to the times. Sometimes it's better not to for me! We enjoyed the dark, and everyone else seemed to back off a lot in it. I used to do night navigations, though we haven't been out in two years, although we helped to plan two at night for our motor club lately, so I suppose that helped. It's a pity day two hadn't of been all in the dark too, then maybe that would have helped us!"In second place was Martin Tynan, the Clones driver third fastest on the first stage, and taking two second fastest times on the last two tests. Welsh ace Jason Pritchard was fourth, having his first Irish Cup outing since his spectacular roll on the West Cork event, and Irish Cup leader Barry Evans would finish fifth, after an unsettled start. His C2 developed a power steering fault before the event, and a hastily borrowed ECU from another non competing C2 R2 cured the problem. Others in troubles were young Sam Moffett who was fourth early on, before a front ball joint came loose putting him out of the rally
Leg 2, day 2 of the Ulster International Rally and a tough day, with an early morning start, covering the remaining ten special stages. After his round five dramas it was to be Marty McCormack's day, as he set scorching times all day to record a superb win, putting him right in the hunt for the title going into the final double header round in Wexford in two weeks. The other sensation on day two was Jason Pritchard. The Welsh ace, part of the British Rally Elite set three fastest C2 times to McCormack's seven and like McCormack on one test even beat the 2 litre Clio of hotshot Adam Gould. Indeed like Marty McCormack it was a trouble free day for Jason, finishing just 25 seconds behind Marty, and third place Martin Tynan also had a fast trouble free run. For championship leader Barry Evans, it was a fast start, third fastest on the opening two tests, but an impromptu trip into someone's garden on stage 10 didn't impress the stage clock, and it didn't impress the home owner who wasn't best pleased at the C2 in the shrubbery! Barry would eventually finish fifth, behind Adrian McElhinney, who just didn't seem to have the Friday speed and Barry now s under serious pressure, with any one of the top three able to lift the C2 R2 Irish Cup title going into the final rounds.
For others the weekend brought mixed fortunes. Reigning British C2 R2 Cup champion, Martin Laverty with Vincent Fergus on the notes, had a clutch cable come loose and incurred road penalties leaving service, but the Magherafelt driver never seemed to get into his stride, whilst Armagh driver Sean Agnew's performance improved after a change pf rear shocks at the end of the first leg. He also benefited like Martin Tynan and Barry Evans from the kindness of Marty McCormack's brother Greg, who gave these crews suspension settings that he had developed with, four times Irish Tarmac Champion, Eugene Donnelly's engineer, Derek McGeehan. It's great to see that camaraderie does still exist in Motorsport. For Moanghan's Sam Moffett, with his car repaired after Friday's ball-joint problem, a broken engine mounting sidelined him on Saturday, perhaps a legacy of the previous day's drama.