Latest News from Circuit of Ireland Rally

Winner of the first round of the 2016 championship; the Mid Wales Stages Elfyn Evans has been forced to drop out of the lead of the Circuit of Ireland rally with mechanical problems. Evans and Craig Parry who mastered the conditions on the opening test, were first car on the road Cairncastle this morning and pulled a 6.4 second lead over 2015 winners Craig Breen and Scott Martin. This lead doubled after Stage 2, Knockboy 1 but Evans suspected problems when he got to the end of the stage, believing it to be in the power steering but on the following test the lead DMACK Fiesta retired with the auxiliary belt letting go. The team has now fixed the car and Evans will start tomorrow.

The leading BRC crew should then have been Desi Henry but he too retired on the tough 31.21km Glen stage which uses the iconic Torr Head. The two leader's demise led to a battle between Marty McCormack (Skoda S2000) and Fredrik Ahlin (Ford Fiesta R5) with local hero McCormack leading on the first stage before Ahlin closed the gap on the second. The Swedish star was in a determined mood and the quickest BRC runner over the infamous Glen, Torr Head challenge to match McCormack on times going into the midday regroup.

Ahlin had never driven a four-wheel-drive car on Tarmac before and was in an inspired mood eking out a slender 0.1 second advantage on stage four before another 2.5 on stage five. Drama was to prevail on the final stage of the day, a short 2.3km spectator stage in the town of Newtownards. Ahlin made contact with a roadside curb, knocking the tracking out on his Fiesta R5. Undeterred the Swede limped the car back to Service, dropping 23 seconds to McCormack and placing him third at the overnight halt.

Josh Moffett, despite running further down the running order, lies second in his Fiesta while David Bogie, who managed to repair his Skoda Fabia R5 after an excursion on the qualifying stage yesterday, is in a solid fourth. Josh's brother Sam had a difficult start to the day with clutch issues but Soldiered on in his Fiesta R5 into the top five going into the second day.
The highest placed Citroen DS3 R5 is that of Jonathan Greer in sixth while teammate Keith Cronin retired after an off on stage one, damaging the radiator and won't restart tomorrow. Euan Thorbrn in the sole Peugeot 208 T16 also had a troubled day and has called time with differential failure.

Ollie Mellors who opted to run in the National field is going well in his SORT Oil backed Proton Satria S2000 and in the DMACK Junior BRC it's been a battle of attrition as competitors have fallen by the wayside. Robert Duggan and Mattias Adielson have a one-two for the Vauxhall Motorsport Junior Rally Team while Umberto Accornero holds third in his Ford Fiesta. Nabila Tejpar has had a solid event gaining experience with every stage mile in fourth.

The lead in the BRC2 category is held by Patrick O'Brien in his Mitsubishi Evo 9 while in the National Rally Cup Donnie Macdonald has a comfortable cushion over Mirage driver Jamie Jukes. Callum Devine was a late registration for the Circuit of Ireland competing in the BRC4 category. The Irishman was running well until transmission failure resulted in a nearly retirement.

9th April, 2016