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SS4: Tyre Choice Critical for Stage 4 as McGarrity Leads but Massey Fastest

SS4: Stage four was all about tyre choice. The heavens opened during the lunch break but then the blue skies returned making tyre choice difficult for crews. Some opted for cut slicks, some for intermediates and some went on full wets. The correct choice seemed to be anything but cut slicks!

Rally leader Derek McGarrity opted for an intermediate tyre which he reckoned was the right one to go for but he was 2.6 seconds slower than Mark Massey who opted for “a good set of wet tyres”.

“It went very good,” McGarrity said. “There was a lot more grip than you would think. We went on an intermediate tyre. It was the right choice.”

Massey’s fastest time promoted him into second overall ahead of a struggling Derek McGeehan who was forced to use the manual gear change in his Mini WRC.

“We went out on a slick tyre which was the wrong choice,” McGeehan revealed. “Then the paddle change stopped working so I had to manually change gear. It was a disaster in there.”

Kenny McKinstry was another driver who opted for a cut slick and he dropped a position to seventh overall. The same disappointment befell Stuart Biggerstaff who also took a chance with a slick tyre but it didn’t pay off and he dropped to sixth.

“We took a chance on slicks but it didn’t pay off,” Biggerstaff said.

Paul Barrett also dropped a position to hold fifth overall. He selected the best tyre for the conditions but was caught out and spun his Fiesta.

“We spun on the first lap and lost about 10 or 15 seconds,” Barrett revealed. “I went out on wets which are well worn but to be honest they were the right tyre. It was just a bit slippy.”

With McKinstry, Biggerstaff and Barrett all dropping positions, it was championship leader Stephen Wright who benefitted as he finally seems to be getting to grips with his car and the venue.

“That was the first stage that my driving was good and the car was good,” Wright said. “We went on a wet tyre. We ran this same tyre this morning and they felt terrible but the car has been transformed since then. So we disregarded that when we were making our decision and it was a wise choice.”

Martin Cairns was using the same tyres he had earlier which he reckoned were “done” but it’s all he has. Nigel Feeney made some changes to his suspension setup and was a lot happier.

James Kennedy said “it was as slippy as it ever was” but made no mistakes and extended his advantage over John Devlin who ran a bit wide over some tyres. But now another 2WD competitor has Kennedy in his sights as Kyle White has closed to within 1.5 seconds of his rival. He’s trying hard to make up for lost time and is now within striking distance.

Fintan McGrady reckoned he was too cautious, Drew Stewart caught another competitor and Alastair Cochrane lost a wiper as well as part of his sun visor! Jonny Greer was deliberating about his tyre choice before the start but he opted to keep the slick tyres on which made his run a bit slippery.

Finally, Johno Doogan didn’t have any spins this time and James Leckey also had a clean run.

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