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Denis Biggerstaff unlucky at the Mourne Rally

Posted: June 30, 2003 12:53 AM - 4038 Hits

DENIS BIGGERSTAFF and Damien McCann took their Eurocables and Excel sponsored Metro 6R4 to an excellent fourth overall at the Mourne Rally last weekend despite having a plethora of problems throughout the day.

Posted: June 30, 2003 12:53 AM

The event started well for the two times Northern Ireland Rally Champion with fastest time on the opening stage. Denis was five seconds faster than his nearest rivals on the short Small Gullion test but stage two was to tell another story. The Metro 6R4 lost revs on the eight mile Big Gullion stage when the fan belt broke and the Millers Oils 6R4 dropped seven seconds to Eugene Donnelly.

Not easily deterred, Denis and Damien traveled to stage three determined to make up for lost time but when they arrived at the start, another problem was beginning to raise its head. The Metro 6R4's engine was overheating and Denis had to bleed the radiator before attempting to attack the stage. With the radiator bled, Denis started the stage with one eye on the road and the other on the temperature gauge. He reached the end of the test with a respectable time and took the car to the first service of the day where they attempted to find the source of the problem. Their investigations were futive however as they couldn't find the problem but Denis decided to continue ' minus the grille and windows! The return to the short Small Gullion stage allowed Denis to go flat out. There was no reason to worry about the temperature on such a short test and the Eurocables and Excel Metro 6R4 set fastest time once more. Big Gullion was next on the cards and once again the radiator had to be bled before the start of the stage. This was dropping him further down the starting order behind much slower cars but Denis and Damien battled on. By the mid-point of the rally, they were losing an increasing amount of time on the stages as they were slowed by other crews.

After the second service at Carbane Industrial Estate, it was time to tackle stage seven but midway through the test Denis had more than his temperature gauge to worry about: 'We were having a blinder!' Denis said. 'But we overshot a chicane and went through a rough ditch bending a wheel rim and wishbone. She came out of the ditch like a little Mini Zetor!'

Despite the off road excursion, Denis went on to set joint fastest time together with the Escort WRC of Glenn Allen. Two more 'hairy' runs over stages eight and nine resulted in Denis arriving at the final service in second position. A new wishbone was fitted to the car and the Eurocables and Excel 6R4 was ready for action once again.

Fastest time on the final run over Small Gullion moved Denis and Damien further ahead of Glenn Allen but disaster struck on stage ten. The 6R4 ace had been bleeding the radiator in his 6R4 before each stage of the day and by this time he was running very far down the order. Luck was not on the Kinallen man's side as the car in front of him went off the road and blocked the stage.

'We were having a blinder, my best run of the day,' Denis said. 'We were running about car 50 but the car in front had a big accident and the stage was blocked. The navigator was standing with the OK board so we tried to pass but it was impossible.'

All following competitors were given a nominal time ' the slowest time of the previous crews who had completed the test. Denis was allocated a time more than one minute slower than the fastest time set by Eugene Donnelly. With one stage remaining, he had dropped from second position to fourth through no fault of his own. With Glenn Allen more than one minute ahead, there was no chance of being able to regain second position and Denis had to cruise to the finish.

Second fastest time on the final stage made no difference to the leaderboard and Denis arrived at the finish in the Eurocables and Excel Metro 6R4 in fourth position. It was a case of what might have been for Denis and Damien but nonetheless they were pleased with their performance on the day.

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