NEWS: Rally Northern Ireland: Super Start But Ireland Bites Back
28 August 2013

After a strong first day performance, and a solid fourth position overnight, Culina Palletforce Racing’s John MacCrone and Phil Pugh retired from Rally NI today after going off the road.

The pair got out of shape on a fast section on today’s opening stage and the damage to their Citroen DS3 rally car was such that they were unable to continue.

After an eight-week break, Rally NI saw the MSA British Rally Championship resume with one of the most demanding events of the series. The fast country roads and deceptive bumps are revered by many drivers, and the new rally base at Enniskillen took crews to some tough tests around Fermanagh and Tyrone.

Coming off the back of a fourth place in Scotland last time out, Mull driver MacCrone was keen to make a solid start – still quite new to driving his Telfords DS3 on Tarmac. And, on Friday’s opening action, that’s exactly how it all panned out.

The first day brought wet conditions and some last-minute tyre choices when the fourth round of the championship kicked off with the 9.25-mile Topped Mountain stage just outside Enniskillen. MacCrone and Pugh stopped the clocks in fifth position, happy to concede some time to the local drivers. The tricky conditions, with rain, muddy roads and junctions laced with gravel, meant a levelheaded approach was needed.

But they stepped up the pace on stage three moving up to third place after a quick blast through the Mallabeny Hill stage.

With the rain easing, the Culina-crew switched from intermediate tyres to dry weather slicks to make the most of the drying mountain roads. But, despite some cuts to help generate heat and extra grip, MacCrone found the rear of his car was stepping out on the fast corners and backed off over the evening run to ensure a strong overnight fourth place.

After an early start this morning, the pair headed north for the first loop of the day but didn’t make it out of stage eight at Sloughan Glen – the longest of the rally. On a fast narrow section, the car pitched up over a jump and off the road, causing significant body damage. MacCrone and Pugh visited hospital for precautionary checks and were released this afternoon.

There’s now a busy few weeks ahead for the CA1 Sport-run team as they face a race against time to get a car prepared for Rallyday, a non-championship rally show event at Castle Combe circuit on 21 September.

John MacCrone, Culina Palletforce Racing team driver, said: “The rally started well and Friday was pretty good. Everything felt comfortable in the wet conditions and we adopted a sensible pace for the first loop of stages. I struggled a little in the evening as the temperature dropped and I just couldn’t get the grip from the rear tyres.

“Things didn’t go to plan today, however. We got out of shape over a jump and it bounced us off the road and into a bank. The car is pretty badly damaged and we both took a knock. We are thankful to the spectators and following drivers who assisted both myself and Phil afterwards.”

Report: Courtesy of Culina Palletforce Racing


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