NEWS: Irish Action Sees MacCrone Resume British Challenge
20 August 2013

After an eight-week break, the MSA British Rally Championship resumes next weekend with one of the trickiest rounds of the series. Rally Northern Ireland sees the battle reconvene on the other side of the Irish Sea and the Culina Palletforce Racing team back on Tarmac for the fourth round of the series.

(John MacCrone and Phil Pugh were fourth on the Scottish Rally)

After a solid first half of the season, Mull man John MacCrone is back at the wheel of the Culina Citroen DS3 and he’s up for the challenge that the Irish country roads have to offer.

MacCrone and co-driver Phil Pugh, from Tywyn in Wales, come to the event off the back of a fourth place in the Scottish forests last time out. But it was their performance back in May, when they were fighting for the lead on the opening night of the Jim Clark Rally, that’s more significant.

Despite limited experience on Tarmac, MacCrone set the Jim Clark stages alight as he immediately felt at ease on the sealed surface roads. And it’s that speed which he’s hoping to replicate when Rally Northern Ireland bursts into life next Friday in Enniskillen.

Renowned for demanding bumps, abrasive surfaces and slippery roads, the country lanes in Northern Ireland are difficult to master. However, this year’s venue has switched from Antrim to Enniskillen in the heart of County Fermanagh’s lake district. While this may even the odds a little with everyone tackling the new stages for the first time, there’s a host of local drivers ready to capitalise on their home advantage.

(John MacCrone is hoping for the turn of speed he showed on the Jim Clark Rally)

But MacCrone is well prepared. He will be counting on the valuable experience that former British champion Pugh will add next weekend as the pair recce and race on the roads for the first time. And a run as safety car on last week’s Solway Coast Rally provided some welcome seat time in his bid to get further acquainted with the Telfords Citroen DS3.

There’s also an important pre-event test next week to ensure the CA1 Sport run-Citroen is tweaked to cope with the bumps and enable MacCrone to get into the groove before the action starts. In addition to the British title, he’s also chasing points in the one-make Citroen Racing Trophy UK.

Event Detail:
St Angelo Airport at Enniskillen hosts the service park for the weekend and crews will kick into action after a ceremonial start in the centre of Enniskillen at lunchtime on Friday. It’s straight into asphalt action with a loop of three stages totaling 34.24 miles including high-speed runs over Topped Mountain and around Fardross. The loop is repeated in the evening with the addition of a spectator stage at St Angelo.

An early start on Saturday sees crews awaken to two loops of two stages, which are repeated in the afternoon. The action heads north of Enniskillen and includes tests around Sloughan Glen and Carran Bridge.

(John MacCrone gears up for Rally Northern Ireland)

John MacCrone, Culina Palletforce Racing team driver, said: “It feels like a long break since the Scottish so I’m raring to get back into action next week. Our performance from the Jim Clark gives me a good level of confidence but the Irish roads are renowned for being demanding and I’m not underestimating the challenge. This rally will hopefully be one that we are very well prepared for as it’s the first time we’ve got a proper pre-event test. The stages are narrow and complex with lots of unseen corners, so a good recce and accurate pacenotes is vital.”

Phil Pugh, Culina Palletforce Racing team co-driver, said: “The event is pretty new for everyone but the local drivers will certainly be hard to beat. The stages are tricky with difficult to judge bumps and farm tracks with very slippery surfaces – a good recce is important. Friday is a busy day so we need to be on the pace from the start and hopefully the test will help us get a good set-up to start the event.”

Thomas Van Mourik, Culina Palletforce Racing team principal, said: “After a solid and increasingly improving start to the championship, we are looking forward to Rally Northern Ireland and the second half of the championship. John demonstrated his Tarmac speed on the Jim Clark earlier this year and we are hoping he can build on that, and his growing experience in the car, next week. He will face tough opposition, however, from the local drivers so it's set to be a very competitive event.”

Report: Courtesy of Culina Palletforce Racing


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