MACHALE STOPS ON PENULTIMATE STAGE Irishmen Gareth MacHale and Paul Nagle parked their Focus WRC at the start of the penultimate stage of Rally GB after a gearbox oil leak, deciding not to risk an under bonnet fire. They were still classified...
MACHALE STOPS ON PENULTIMATE STAGE
Irishmen Gareth MacHale and Paul Nagle parked their Focus WRC at the start of the penultimate stage of Rally GB after a gearbox oil leak, deciding not to risk an under bonnet fire.
They were still classified as finishers, taking advantage of the WRC rules again, which allow competitors to take a hefty five minute penalty for each stage not completed. Their eventual 16th position overall was despite a second day clutch problem which had dropped the pair five minutes when they missed the Cardiff Super Special Stage. The condition of the forest stages had been treacherous from the very start but they became more difficult as the event progressed, after three days of wind and sporadic torrential rain.
The final 70 miles was packed into Sunday morning and the crew began running third on the road. "With the stages being so wet, the surface was incredibly slippery again," said Gareth, "and the two cars in front weren't enough to clear the loose stuff." Part way through the first stage they came across Mikkelsen off the road which they slowed for to check the crew was OK. But that left just one "road sweeper" and the tracks even more slippery. The result was a quick spin which dropped them around fifteen seconds but the only damage was to Gareth's pride.
With over a minute to the car behind and just 45 seconds to the car in front, Gareth had decided to have a push in the last pair of stages but a strong smell of gear oil forced them to stop at the start of the penultimate stage to investigate. "We could see fluid on the sump guard and there was a smell of hot oil." said Gareth, "So we decided not to attempt the last two stages in case it got on the exhaust and caused a fire. Its just one of those things."
"It is a unique event in the WRC calendar and I'm disappointed not to complete all the stage miles," said Gareth, "But it is another round of the Championship that we can add to our list of experience for next year. The weather has been against everybody this weekend and I'm glad to see that we managed to set some good times in the difficult conditions."
Gareth would like to thank Sanyo Air Conditioners, ABB, Garyaron Homes, All Sports Logistics, Maxol Lubricants, Tom Hogan Motors, Corcoran Builders and the Irish Rally Calendar for their continued support.