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After SS5: McKenna Out, Moffett Spins!

(AFTER SS5 – latest results available from www.rallyscore.net) The demanding forestry stages are starting to take their toll on competitors as Barry McKenna is the latest of the top seeds to join the retirement list. His Fiesta has slid into a ditch and although it reportedly has little damage, he is struggling to get back on the road.

Meanwhile, at the top of the order, Josh Moffett and Stephen Thornton continue to lead the event but a spin has caused them some worries for the Fiesta crew.

“We spun and hit the front wheel quite hard,” Moffett said as he entered service. “Something is bent.”

As a result, Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan have closed the gap to the leaders to just two seconds, despite being first car on the road…

“There was even more loose gravel on stage five so we struggled a bit,” Henry said, “but Josh Moffett spun and Barry McKenna is out so it’s tight at the top.”

Vivian Hamill is up to third overall, despite losing time after hitting a chicane, while fourth placed Connor McCloskey is starting to “get into a rhythm”. Surprisingly, he didn’t know his navigator until 24 hours ago!

Scottish visitor Jock Armstrong is happier now that he has softened his suspension but is surprised at how wet the stages are.

“I thought they’d be drier than that,” Armstrong said. “Back home, if we had a heavy night’s rain, they’d be bone dry the next day if the weather was as good as this.”

Adrian Hetherington reckons he lost around 15 to 20 seconds after he made a mess of a chicane. He is eighth overall as a result, some 25 seconds adrift of the rally leaders. Meanwhile, Cathan McCourt is lucky to still be in the rally after he survived a “massive moment” on two wheels at more than 100mph!

Kenny McKinstry had “no problems” after first service while Alan Carmichael said he’s “starting to get into it”. Patrick O’Brien is coping well with his sore back once the adrenaline kicks in…so well that he now holds fifth overall in his Evo!

Niall McCullagh said, “stage five was fantastic…fifth gear the whole way!” Liam Regan reported that another competing car stopped on the stage in front on him so he also stopped to make sure they were OK. He also reported some oil on his sump guard but he’s not sure where it’s coming from.

Darren McKelvey has sorted out his suspension problems so he was more content when he arrived at second service. Paul Britton reported better conditions on stages four and five.

Ashley Dickson said the start of stage five was “like an autotest” and struggled a bit, a comment echoed by Robert McKelvey.

Gareth Sayers “ran out of talent” when he planted his Subaru into a ditch. He arrived back into service on the end of a tow rope but is hoping to get a new radiator fitted which will let him rejoin the event.

Further down the order, we asked Glen Irwin about the ‘cool dude’ attached to the front of his car…

“Derek Torrens used to navigate for me years ago,” he revealed, “so I carry that in memory of him.”

Irwin has had a challenging rally so far as he had to stop and change a puncture on stage three.

2WD

In the 2WD category, the battle is heating up but David Crossen continues to lead after a tit-for-tat tussle with Paul Barrett over stages four and five.

“I took two seconds out of Paul on the first one then he took one second off me on the next so it’s hammer and tongs!” Crossen smiled. “We ran along a shuck for 20 yards on stage four and the car felt a bit funny at the next corner but it was OK after we got the muck out of it.”

Paul Barrett had some moments to report too as he arrived into service with a damaged door after hitting a chicane.

“I enjoyed that a bit more and I’m starting to drive a bit better,” Barrett said, “but David (Crossen) is going very, very hard.”

Meanwhile, Shane McGirr broke his gear knob on stage four and is struggling to get the car into gear so he’s working frantically at service in an effort to fix the problem.

Mickey Conlon didn’t realise there was a section of tarmac on the fifth stage and lost some time. David Condell has some intermittent power-steering problems which is doing little for his confidence while Oran Donnelly had a moment on stage four when he “nearly stood the car on its number plate” after a jump! The only thing his navigator, Mo Downey, could do was shake his head…!

Jonathan MacDonald

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