NEWS: Red hot Scot John MacCrone sees Jim Clark dream fade
3rd June 2013

Scot John MacCrone's dream of winning the Jim Clark Rally melted away when the red hot brakes on his Citroen triggered a series of problems which ultimately wrecked his ambition.

The 23-year-old from Mull had just strengthened his grip on second place in the latest round of the British Rally Championship when everything began to unravel. MacCrone, the Culina Palletforce Racing team-leader, and co-driven in his Citroen DS3 R3 by Welshman Phil Pugh, was quickest through the second run of the 1.2-mile spectator special stage in the heart of Duns, deep in the Scottish Borders. Entering the second run through the rally's longest stage, the 16-miler at Abbey St Bathans, the Scot had closed to within 7.8-seconds of leader Jukka Korhonen. But just as he was poised to overhaul the Finn, who won the opening round in Carlisle last month, MacCrone's problems began to rear their ugly head.

(John MacCrone and co-driver Phil Pugh in their Culina Palletforce Racing Citroen DS3 R3 during the spectator special stage in Duns)

Such was his blistering pace through the ultra-fast, but tight and twisty section of the tarmac stage that his brakes began to overheat and their performance fade. As their efficiency evaporated, the talented Scot struggled progressively to slow his car as they entered the sharp bends on the downhill section of the stage. Eventually, with the brakes' stopping power all but drained, MacCrone inevitably ran wide at a right-hander. The impact with a high kerb damaged the rear suspension and he spent the remainder of the stage fighting the car as it fought to steer itself.

With the tracking damaged and the left rear wheel pointing away from the car's body, the Citroen resembled a land-stricken crab as it meandered through the narrow country lanes as the rear tried to steer the front-end. The damage cost MacCrone 38.3s compared to Korhonen's fastest stage time. With no service between stages five and six, MacCrone had to manhandle his Citroen through the second run of the four-miler at Tweedside costing him another 53.9s. Within two stages, MacCrone had plummeted from 2nd overall, just 7.8s behind the Finn, to a distant 8th, 1min 40s adrift of Korhonen.

As Saturday's stages progressed, the Scot's car continued to cause him problems and ultimately to question his driving skills. After posting the fifth-fastest time through the 11-miler at Swinton, despite being delayed having caught a slower car, his Citroen continued to prepare to throw in the towel. Over the eight miles of Edrom, he dropped 2mins 23secs on the fastest time, and another 1m 20s in the next stage, the 12-miler at Ayton.

"I really was beginning to question what I was doing," MacCrone, who twice finished on the podium on his debut season last year in the World Rally Championship Academy, admitted. "But when we got the car back to service, the crew immediately identified the front track control arm was broken which, in simple terms, meant the front suspension was knackered. I'd really been struggling to keep the car on the road, and though the stages were damp, I didn't understand what was wrong. Obviously I'm really disappointed not to have been able to continue the fight at the top of the leaderboard, and ultimately retire. But at least I know the problems had nothing to do with my driving."

MacCrone returns to action later this month in the third round of the British Rally Championship, the Dumfries-based Scottish Rally on June 28/29.

Press release issued on behalf of John MacCrone by McMedia

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