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SS4: Rain spices up the battle at the Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages!

AFTER SS4: The heavens opened before the start of stage four and rain blanketed the track as crews lined up for the start. Most of the leading crews were caught out on the wrong tyres and although Derek McGarrity still leads the rally, his advantage has been reduced to four seconds!

Stephen Wright and Keith Rainey were fastest through the test and promoted themselves from seventh into second overall.

“We got the tyre choice right,” Wright said. “I just drove around neatly, nothing too adventurous with no heroics.”

The crew, who lost time with two spins earlier in the day, benefitted by running further down the order. They were able to fit more appropriate tyres for the wet conditions and annihilated the rally leaders who struggled on slicks.

“Our tyres were way too hard so the car was moving about a lot,” McGarrity explained. “Then we caught Mark Massey who nearly spun three times in front of us so we just sat back.”

Kenny McKinstry was also caught out on the wrong tyres and he commented that whoever managed to get their tyre changed in time for the start would be quick.

He couldn’t have said it any better! Wright wasn’t the only competitor who gained positions as a result of the change in weather…

Joe McQuillan was another man on the move as he set third fastest time in his Impreza WRC, promoting him into eighth overall, while Brian Watson was fourth fastest which lifted him seven places into 17th after his earlier steering troubles.

Meanwhile, in the two-wheel drive category, it was a disaster for Keith White as he was among the leading crews who didn’t have enough time to change his tyres. He lost his 2WD lead with James and Heather Kennedy powering through the stage some 16 seconds faster.

“Total disaster,” White said. “I was out in the pit lane whenever the rain came on and we have an intermittent fault with the power steering. Real, real disaster.”

Drew Stewart - Gearbox Change

Back near the top of the leaderboard, Darren Gass was happy with his tyre choice and reckoned he wouldn’t have changed them anyway. The stage times agreed as he was second fastest through the test which moved him from sixth to third overall.

“It was a bit slippery but it’s the same for everybody,” Gass said. “I don’t know if I’d put anything different on to tell you the truth. We just had a steady run with no big fuss.”

With Kenny McKinstry in fourth ahead of Alan Carmichael, who reckoned stage four was like “dancing on ice”, Mark Massey holds sixth after a “couple of nearly spins”. In seventh, Derek McGeehan had a big smile on his face at the finish after a slippery stage with “no cuts at all” in his tyres to help his Mini WRC with the conditions.

Sean Devine and Sean Ferris have maintained their eighth overall with a steady run while James Kennedy now holds ninth from Keith White in 10th.

Nigel Feeney struggled to get his Mini WRC off the line after fitting a set of new tyres which didn’t suit the conditions. John Devlin thought he was doing a good deed by letting a four-wheel drive car pass him on the stage but the crew wasn’t much faster than his Escort!

Fintan McGrady is a bit happier with his progress after his stage one drama and Richard Tannahill lost some time with other rally traffic during the stage. Gary Rodgers has decided to go home as his Evo is struggling with centre differential trouble, making the car very unpleasant to drive.

Jonny Morrow is struggling with an intermittent misfire and Drew Stewart’s service crew pounced on is car as soon as he returned to service in an attempt to change the gearbox before the next stage. He lost third and fourth gear during the stage.

Dermy O’Hagan – Misted-up Windscreen

Alan Atcheson is struggling with the setup of his Fiesta, Colm McFall has had a few spins and Dermy O’Hagan struggled to see out of his windscreen as it completely misted up during the stage.

We reported earlier that Kyle White was in trouble. His ignition coil was the source of his misfire and unfortunately he doesn’t have a spare part so he is out of the event.

Kyle White Retired

Latest results are on www.rallyscore.net. I’ll have more news after stage five!

Jonathan

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