BRC

Ulster Rally Volkswagen report

NEWS FROM THE VOLKSWAGEN RALLY TEAM 2/8/97 VOLKSWAGEN AND McRAE HOLD CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD Alister McRae, co-driver David Senior and the Volkswagen team maintained their overall lead in the Mobil 1 British Rally Championship this afternoon...

NEWS FROM THE VOLKSWAGEN RALLY TEAM 2/8/97 VOLKSWAGEN AND McRAE HOLD CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD Alister McRae, co-driver David Senior and the Volkswagen team maintained their overall lead in the Mobil 1 British Rally Championship this afternoon (Saty) in an incident-packed Ulster International Rally. McRae - bidding to regain the crown he last won in 1995 - finished in fifth position among the championship runners in Ulster, bringing his Sony, Revolution Wheels and Pirelli-backed Golf GTI 16V home nine minutes behind victor Mark Higgins and his Nissan. Reigning title-holder Gwyndaf Evans (Ford) finished second to Higgins, narrowing the overall championship gap between himself and McRae to two points with one round of the series remaining. In the manufacturers' title race, Volkswagen now shares the overall lead with Ford. Said Alister: "Fifth place isn't my best finish of the year, but it means we still lead the championship so it's not so bad a result. Now it's all down to the final round and I'm confident that with some good testing between now and then we can get a lot more speed out of the Golf GTI and take the fight to the other guys." Though delighted to be heading for the final round - next month's Manx International - still holding the championship lead, 27-year-old McRae was left to ponder what might have been had a driveshaft not failed him on the 10th (of 19) special stages, losing him at least six minutes. Entering stage 10, Alister was third - one minute behind leader Higgins - and looking to make up the deficit. The driveshaft hitch dropped him back to 10th, ending hopes of a repeat of his Welsh and Scottish Rally victories and prompting a heroic climb back up the leaderboard as the two-day Ulster event neared its conclusion. McRae posted top-three stage times throughout the remainder of the day, displacing SEAT's Kenny McKinstry from fifth position with three stages remaining. The stage is now set for a classic five-way shoot-out for the championship title on the demanding tarmac stages of the Isle of Man, where McRae and the SBG Sport-prepared Golf GTI will rejoin battle with Evans, Higgins and the Renaults of Robbie Head and Martin Rowe. SBG Sport's Steve Bagnall said: "Alister and Volkswagen have led the championship all season and we intend to ensure we're still there after the final round. We have proved the Golf GTI's tarmac potential but had some problems. A test programme is planned and the bugs will be ironed out..." McRae's works Volkswagen team-mates Tapio Laukkanen and Liam O'Callaghan were both casualties of the ultra-tough Ulster tarmac. Cork-based O'Callaghan dropped out of the running with engine problems, his Esso Ultron and Allways Travel-backed Golf enduring a snapped throttle cable and a puncture before succumbing on stage seven. Flying Finn Laukkanen made a blazing start to the rally, setting top-three stage times before brake problems intervened. His strong sixth place evaporated after stage 10 due to gearbox problems. Volkswagen privateer Ashley Blenkhorn (Louth) had another good outing in his Transforge-backed Golf GTI, taking 14th position overall among the championship runners and fourth of the amateur runners. RESULTS Ulster International Rally - Round 5, Mobil 1 British Championship, 1/2.8.97 1 Mark Higgins (GB) / Philip Mills (GB) Nissan Sunny 2h 53m 54s 2 Gwyndaf Evans (GB) / Howard Davies (GB) Ford Escort 2h 55m 05s 3 Robbie Head (GB) / Bryan Thomas (GB) Renault Maxi 2h 58m 06s 4 Martin Rowe (GB) / Nicky Beech (GB) Renault Maxi 2h 58m 26s 5 Alister McRae (GB) / David Senior (GB) Volkswagen Golf GTI 16V 3h 03m 08s 6 Kenny McKinstry (GB) / Philip McCrea (GB) SEAT Ibiza 3h 03m 46s CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS Manufacturers =1 Volkswagen & Ford, 51 points; 3 Nissan, 38; 4 Renault, 37; 5 SEAT, 27, etc Drivers 1 McRae, 97; 2 Evans, 95; 3 Head, 89; 4 Higgins, 76; 5 Rowe, 71, etc

-- www.maxcom.demon.co.uk/vwrally.htm

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Series BRC
Drivers Mark Higgins , Alister McRae , Philip Mills , David Senior , Martin Rowe , Gwyndaf Evans , Howard Davies , Bryan Thomas