NEWS: Puncture robs Scot John MacCrone of BRC podium
8th May 2013

Scots rally ace John MacCrone refused to be deflated after a puncture robbed him of a podium finish on the opening round of this year's British Rally Championship.

(John MacCrone and co-driver Phil Pugh in their Culina Palletforce Racing Citroen DS3 R3)

The 23-year-old from the Isle of Mull, making his debut for the newly-formed Culina Palletforce Racing team, stormed back from 14th to finish fifth in the Pirelli Rally. And in his first event, MacCrone set the fastest time in the 10th and final stage of the rally. The damage though had been done earlier in Kielder Forest.

Lying a comfortable third as he headed into stage five, the second run through 8.75-miler at Archy's Rigg, the Scot dropped four minutes when his Citroen DS3 R3 clattered a rock on stage five. The impact lifted the rubber from the wheelrim, forcing MacCrone and his new co-driver, Phil Pugh, to stop and change the wheel. The delay relegated them from third, to 14th, and the pair dropped a further 11.5s on the next stage as the car struggled with a broken front right damper.

"One of the cars in front of me had obviously pulled a big rock into the middle of the forest track," MacCrone explained. "We took exactly the same line through the corner as we did in the first run. I didn't see the rock, but I certainly heard the impact. It must have been pretty big, because the damage it did to the wheel and the tyre was severe. There was no way we could continue without changing it. That dropped us time, but we dropped even more through the next stage because of the broken damper. To be honest, I felt really down at the end of the first day. We'd driven sensibly, had a good pace and took no risks. The day had gone as we'd planned and yet, because of one corner, we'd been punished severely."

With the car repaired overnight, MacCrone set about climbing back through the field over the closing four stages in Kershope Forest. Fired up, the Scot was fourth-fastest on the first run through the 4.79 miles of Newcastleton, and second-quickest through the 9.66 miles of the event's longest stage, Glen Dhu. The improvement continued, posting the second-fastest time on the second run through Newcastleton, just 0.7s off the fastest time. But MacCrone kept his best till last, topping the timesheets on the rally's final stage, the second run through Glen Dhu, where he was 0.9s quicker than the rest of the field.

"To get our first top stage time, on my first time in the new car, and the first time with Phil on the pacenotes, was fantastic," MacCrone continued. I' don't think there's any doubt, if we hadn't had the rock problem on stage five, we'd have finished on the podium."

To put that into perspective, despite dropping more than four minutes through stages five and six, MacCrone finished just 4mins 19.5secs behind the winner, Finn Jukka Korhonen. And the Scot was also 3mins 37secs off second place, and 3:10s off third.

"When I was lying 14th immediately after the puncture, I certainly didn't think we'd get back into the top five," MacCrone admitted. "But Phil and I just knuckled down and went for it. That said, we didn't do anything silly. We just settled into a good, fast pace. I know there's more to come from both me, and the car, so I can't wait to get back into the car for the next round, the Jim Clark later this month."

Next Round: The Jim Clark Rally, Duns May 31-June 1.

Press release issued on behalf of John MacCrone by McMedia

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