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Rally Isle of Man International - 10-11 Jul 09

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:55 PM - 14401 Hits

Round 6 - 2009 Tarmac Rally Championship
Round 4 - 2009 British Rally Championship
Round 5 - 2009 Fiesta SportingTrophy UK

Alastair Fisher - Star Drive on the Isle of Man

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:57 PM

For 20 year old Tyrone rally star, Alastair Fisher, last weekend's Rally Isle of Man, a round of the prestigious British Rally Championship, really was a star turn for the young up and coming rally driver. With experienced co-driver Rory Kennedy alongside, Alastair in his Group N Mitsubishi Evo 9 returned to the TT Grandstand on Saturday with a magnificent third overall result, and to be awarded on the podium one of the prestigious Pirelli yellow jersey's, for the drive of the event. ìIt was a good rally for usî quipped Alastair. ìThe car felt good from the start, and really we put a lot of work in before the rally, with the recce also. It was important to mark out all the bumps, as they can easily catch you out on such a high speed rally like the Manx. It's been a good season so far, and we have had good runs on the Pirelli and Jim Clark rallies in the British series, and Killarney and Donegal at home, but to get the Pirelli jersey on the Manx has been the highlight so far.î The Pirelli jersey entitles Alastair a place on the end of season Pirelli shootout, where the winner receives a funded drive for the 2010 season, and ironically Alastair had a titanic battle for third place, with the 2008 shootout winner Adam Gould in his Pirelli Subaru as well as Jonny Greer. ìIt was a good race with both Adam and Jonny and it's a pity they crashed out. We had the odd moment too, a couple of overshoots on the long stage on the first day, but generally it settled down after that.

The name Fisher, and the Manx Rally have had a long affection with Irish rally fans, with his late Uncle Bertie, the four times Irish Tarmac Champion, so nearly winning the event on several occasions, and late cousin Mark also winning Group N on the island. Alastair isn't often asked about their influence, but he is very proud of their previous rally achievements. ìIt is something I'm proud of. Uncle Bertie had some great drives here, he was so unlucky not to win the rally and many of those drives, Rory was alongside too. I remember Mark had a brilliant drive here in a Group N Evo 5 too. Yes it's something I don't talk a lot about, but I have many good memories growing up around the rallies, and for sure it's been a big influence.î With Alastair's father Ivan having been involved in the sport both as a sponsor and co-driver, Gerry McGarrity who ran Mark Fisher's cars preparing the Evo, and Bertie's co-driver Rory Kennedy and Barry McNulty sharing the hot seat duties, the great Fisher tradition is being carried on in modern day rallying. For Alastair his first season in a Group N four wheel drive machine has been exceptional, but he also realises it's essentially a learning year. ìWe felt the time was right to move from the Fiesta's to the Evo this season, and it's a matter of learning a bit, and picking up the pace stage by stage, which has been working. Obviously I wish to get as far up the ladder as possible, and for now my focus in on maintaining my third place in the British Rally Championship on the final two rounds, the Ulster and Rally Yorkshire.î At present Alastair also has another career to think about as he is a student of Construction Engineering and Management at The Ulster University at Jordanstown but he has ambitions in rallying too

. ìI know I need to build up my speed and experience, and the British Championship is ideal for this as it has a good mix of tarmac and gravel rallies. On a greater scale, the IRC is very interesting, and of course the WRC, but I think these Super 2000 cars are quite exciting.î

Alastair's rally experience started with rally-sprints in his teens, and then he progressed to a Vauxhall Corsa rally car, before entering the Fiesta UK and Irish series, taking the Irish title, and missing the British on a tie break. ìThe Fiesta's were a great car to drive, and a great championship, ideal to build experience. I admit when I got into the Evo, at first it took a while to adjust to the speed of the car, and speed you can carry through corners with the four wheel drive, but as every stage goes I'm feeling happier and more confident. There is a bit of a break now before the Ulster International, but we may fit something in between, maybe a national tarmac event just to keep the game up.î

For now Alastair, a member of the British Rally Elite is working on his fitness, and media skills, and he is looking ahead to the Ulster Rally, not only for the British series, but the Irish Tarmac Championship as well, as he now leads Group N in the series.

Cronin/Shinnors brilliant on Rally Isle of Man, round six of Irish Tarmac Championship

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:55 PM

Young Cork driver Keith Cronin produced another stunning drive on last weekend's International Isle of Man Rally, round six of the Irish Tarmac rally Championship (ITC) and round four of the British rally Championship (BRC). Driving his usual Mitsubishi Evo 9, Cronin finished top ITC driver and were it not for delays with diff failure on Friday and a puncture on Saturday he could have won the rally outright. Just four Irish drivers have won the Manx International: Adrian Boyd (1973) Cathal Curley (1974) Frank Meagher (1995) and Eugene Donnelly (2006 and 2007).

Cronin's rallying focus for 2009 is the BRC, and on the Manx he locked horns once again with his great rival Mark Higgins. Higgins is native of the Isle of Man and four times winner of this rally. Yet Cronin was fastest driver on ten of the twenty stages on his first visit to this rally. Cronin and Higgins were demonstrably the quickest drivers on the island, and the lead changed hands between them on several occasions. While Higgins was delayed by an off and gearbox maladies, Cronin was delayed more by his diff problems and the puncture and had to settle for a very honourable second .The warring duo are now level on BRC points, as they head to the next month's Ulster rally, another double header.

Alastair Fisher had another fine drive. The Fermanagh driver had a big fight on his hands with Adam Gould, but he survived to finish a fine third and collect fourteen valuable ITC points. Fisher is now fifth overall and he moves into lead of the Group N class. With Alan Carmichael and Ger O'Donovan non-starting the Manx, the leader board is now very tight: Fisher has 36 points ahead of Carmichael with 35, O'Donovan 34 and Cronin 30.

In the classes, there were some fine results for ITC drivers. Jason Pritchard had a really good drive in the Citroen C2R2 to win class six and finish eighth overall. Pritchard is now second in this class. In class three young Kilkenny driver Craig Breen starred in the Fiesta. Although he crashed out of the main rally on day two, he won the U.K. Fiesta Sporting Trophy on day one and now leads that series as well as the Irish Fiesta Sporting Trophy. Winner of class three was the Astra diesel of Steve Graham, a result that now elevates him to joint second in the championship class. Joseph Mc Gonagle finished 15th overall in his Honda Civic, winning his class ad extending his class lead in the championship. With another fine win in the Historics in his Porshe 911, Derek Boyd further extended his championship lead in the Historic class

At the prize-giving Mark Higgins was relieved the rally was over and he admitted that the 2009 Manx International was the most difficult of his five wins-a new record on this classic event.

Higgins takes fifth Rally Isle of Man to level BRC

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:55 PM

Pirelli TEG Sport's Mark Higgins and Bryan Thomas have taken an historic victory on the 46th Rally Isle of Man, the fourth round of the MSA British Rally Championship.

Higgins' win makes him not only the most successful driver in the event's history, the only person to have won here five times, but it puts him and Keith Cronin level at points at the head of the British Rally Championship points standings.

Differential problems for both triple BRC Champion and the 22 year pretender to the crown meant that with three stages remaining, just 5.7 seconds split the pair. Higgins team was forced to remove the gearbox twice within four stages to fix the differential and a broken clutch. But despite the fierce battle, rallying camaraderie shone through when some of Cronin's army of followers pushed Higgins off a bank after struggling round a tight hairpin with no clutch.

ìIt has been the most difficult and hard fought event I can remember,î he said at the Douglas TT Grandstand finish. ìIt was great to win here last year and add Rory (Kennedy's) name to the trophy, but this is fantastic, especially as Bryan now has four wins, equal to Derek Ringer. Keith is a great opponent and I've been amazed at his pace on my Island!î [AUDIO]

Cronin and co-driver Greg Shinnors were second after one of the tensest events in the rally's history, eventually finishing nearly a minute and a half adrift after a late puncture took the pressure off Higgins. The whole event had held its breath until the problem, with the lead changing several times and each driver taking ten stages wins apiece. [AUDIO]

Alastair Fisher and last year's winning co-driver Rory Kennedy were third, the young Irishman not succumbing to pressure from Adam Gould who crashed out in his Pirelli Star Driver prize car on stage 17 of 20. It was Fisher who took the nomination for the 2009 Pirelli award shootout after his excellent first BRC podium place. [AUDIO]

Despite Gould's accident, Higgins' result is enough to extend Pirelli TEG Sport's lead in the MSA British Teams' Rally Championship. They now lead by 31 points over Team JRM Lico with Revolution Wheels a further 19 points adrift.

Heading the Rally 3 class was Tom Walster with new co-driver Craig Parry, their fantastic sounding Clio R3 keeping the crowds entertained on their way to eighth place in the British Rally Championship classified finishers. [AUDIO] After two crashes in two days, Kris Hall and Robbie Durant were second, but only after a spirited drive from Friday's Fiesta Sport Trophy winner Craig Breen and Gareth Roberts ended when they retired with just four stages remaining. Third were the distant but delighted Harry Hunt and Kris Killip, the 20 year-old Londoner contesting his first BRC event after moving up from the BRC Challenge. [FST FULL REPORT]

Taking Rally 2 and the C2R2 Cup were Martin McCormack and Phil Clarke in their immaculate CitroÎn C2, also winning the two wheel drive category, top placed Junior driver and a cheque for Ä4,000. The prize fund, which is awarded for the CitroÎn Racing Trophy, comprises Ä2,000 for the CitroÎn win, doubled up for being quickest front wheel drive. [AUDIO] Jason Pritchard and Andrew Edwards were the only other finishers in the category, the little R2 cars placed sixth and seventh overall in the British Rally Championship order. [C2R2 FULL REPORT]

In Rally 1 it was the Suzukis which dominated, Luke Pinder and Peter Scott taking the Swift Sport Cup by force too. They held a two minute gap to David Harrison until the final stage, where they took it very easy, still managing to finish over a minute clear and with it a cheque for £500. Honda Civic driver Joseph McGonigle overcame brake problems to take third in R1, relegating Gordon Nichol to fourth. Although the Scot and his co-driver Emma Morrison took highest placed mixed crew on the event and now lead the Swift Sport Cup Championship. [SSC FULL REPORT]

The Diesel Cup went to Steve and Tony Graham in their ìBoom Boxî Astra. They had fitted a speaker under the bonnet of the ultra-quiet car in an attempt to warn spectators of their arrival, playing a range of classical and house music on the stages. Fin McCaul and Huw Mathias stopped on Friday when an accident left them with just three wheels on their BMW, but used re-start rules to keep their Championship hopes alive.

The next round of the MSA British Rally Championship. the Toddsleap.com Ulster International Rally, is based in its new Antrim home on 21st and 22nd August, from where new stages will effectively present a blank canvas for the continuation of battle for the 2009 title.

Also see

Hat-trick for McCormack extends C2R2 Cup lead

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:53 PM

Marty McCormack and Phil Clarke took sixth place overall on this weekend's International Rally Isle of Man, extending their lead of the MSA British Rally Championship's C2R2 Cup with victory in the one-make series.

The eventual fifty eight second winning margin over Championship rivals Jason Pritchard and Andrew Edwards could not have been predicted early in the 180 mile event though. After the first stage was stopped, eleven seconds separated the four CitroÎn Racing Trophy crews at the finish of SS2, Kella.

Mark Gamble and Steve Link took the early initiative, contesting their first event with the full C2R2 Max kit engine. Andrew Hockridge/Rich Mills were only 5.5 seconds down, but Pritchard and McCormack were by no means out of contention in third and fourth places respectively.

Despite having a soft brake pedal, Pritchard set a stunning stage three time and leap-frogged to the front, demoting Hockridge to fourth. The driver of the distinctive red and blue CitroÎn admitted he and Mills had run out of time during the recce though, only managing one pass over some stages.

With stage four also cancelled through earlier accidents, the battle was re-joined after service, where McCormack began a fight back for the lead. As stage times started to come in it was clear that the Irishman had managed to resolve an earlier front brake problem, closing in on Pritchard's lead to overtake on stage six.

It was a lead that he would not relinquish for the remainder of Friday, pulling a handful of seconds clear, despite Pritchard's final stage push which left them 21 seconds apart at the overnight halt.

Gamble and Hockridge had an eventful afternoon, the former entertaining the crowds in Castletown when he spectacularly hit a house on the quayside section. The car snapped sideways just after the bridge and he careered off backwards, smashing the rear of the car into a low window lintel. The time loss was inconsequential compared to his stage eight though, when he lost six minutes with alternator failure. Hockridge's misfortune was still greater, the Welshman stopping in the same stage with gearbox trouble, unable to re-start that day.

He did, however, manage the re-start on Saturday, albeit carrying a hefty time penalty, but it did not help his eventual result as a misfire stopped the crew after the day's first stage. The cause was eventually traced to a broken wire which had been trapped by the replacement gearbox, a cruel way to exit the event.

Gamble's exit was more spectacular but nonetheless final. He managed to complete just one more stage than Hockridge, before rattling the car between the infamous Manx banks, stopping on stage fifteen.

Any hope of a fight back from Pritchard ended when he lost third gear in his sequential gearbox on stage eighteen, forcing the Welsh youngster to cruise the final few stages for essential C2R2 Cup points and CitroÎn Racing Trophy prize money.

Realising his opponent's predicament, McCormack cruised home too, the maximum points haul moving him six points clear at the head of the C2R2 Cup. He took a substantial prize haul too, Ä2000 better off courtesy of his CitroÎn Racing Trophy win, CitroÎn UK doubling it to Ä4000 for being fastest two wheel drive car on the tough event.

Despite his hat-trick of victories, McCormack's Championship is by no means secure, as even an outright win on his home event, the Toddsleap.com Ulster International Rally, cannot seal the series. The August 21/22nd event is followed by Rallye le Touquet in Northern France, the final event in the 2009 season counting 1Ω points.

CRAIG'S MANX MASTERY MOVES HIM INTO FIESTA UK CHAMPIONSHIP

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:51 PM

It's been a roller coaster year for Waterford teenager Craig Breen. The former karting ace is now leading both the Fiesta Sport Trophy Ireland, and UK series, after another brilliant victory on round five of the UK series on Rally Isle of Man. It's a victory that gives him a five point lead in the series over English driver Matt Edwards, with the final two rounds of the championship the Ulster International and Trackrod rallies, and few could have forecast such a superb season to date, not even Craig. ìReally I started off this season with a real aim to have a go rallying. When we got to Galway I didn't really know even if rallying was going to be my thing, but I was surprised at the result we achieved, and then we lead the first UK FST round before a gearbox failure. There is no doubting it's my thing! It's been a dream so far and I am putting 110% effort into trying to make a career out of rallying, to climb the ladder into WRC. At the moment there is a lot of work to do in between events, between organising, physical training, and testing, just trying to keep things right.î It's been a huge commitment this season for Craig, and his team, a dedicated team with a hectic schedule of events, and it's an approach rarely taken by an Irish team who have really set their sights on making it to the top in International rallying.

The Manx rally was a prime example of the hard work and preparation by the Tom Gahan Motorsport team, paying off. ìWe really searched hard for somewhere to test to really simulate the Manx conditions, and once we found the venue, we set up the car to suit. I felt after the shakedown on the Isle of Man, that the set up was going to suit the bumpy roads, and it gave me great confidence starting the event. Also Gareth Roberts and I spent a lot of time detailing all the bumps and crests on the recce, and though the notes had a huge amount of detail, having this detail proved valuable on the event.î Round five of the FST UK series couldn't have gone more smoothly for the Dairwood Design team, and with rivals Mark Donnelly and Kris Hall both inverting their Fiesta's on the first stage, it put Craig firmly in the driving seat. Indeed at the end of the eight stages that decided the Fiesta result he had almost a three minute margin over his nearest rivals. ìEverything just worked great, and we backed off a bit on the final few stages to make sure of a trouble free finish. After the Fiesta result was decided really we were left to go for it on the rest of the event, and I wanted to get as high up the two wheel drive rankings as possible. We were having a good race with Tom Walster in the R3 Clio. He took 0.2 of a second from us on the opener, then we took 4 seconds from him on the next one, and I was really driving at ten tenths.

The next stage he took the 4 seconds back, but we expected that, as it was a faster, wider test, and then we decided to have a good go on the next Curragh's stage, as we figured he may struggle a little on the bumps and tight twists. I made a mistake about the fourth corner into the stage however, just ran wide on a tight left, the car went up the bank and landed on its roof. It's something to learn from, and I know exactly what I did wrong, so it hasn't annoyed me too much, or effected my focus for the next event.î Craig's stage times had once again been impressive, up against the more powerful two wheel cars, and this weekend he has the unique opportunity to step into a more powerful front wheel drive car, as he debuts the new Fiesta R2 in Ireland on the ALMC Stages.

Fiesta SportTrophy UK - Breen dominates the Island

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:50 PM

The fifth round of the Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy took place last weekend at the Manx International Rally, based in the seaside resort of Douglas on the motorsport mecca, the Isle of Man. The event gave crews over 80 miles of some of the toughest tarmac stages the infamous motorsport renowned island has to offer. At the end of the event it was the crew of Craig Breen (18) from Waterford and navigator Gareth Roberts that clinched victory also handing them the lead to the series overall.

Before the event even began there was drama on the shakedown stage for some competitors. Mark Donnelly (17) from Omagh and navigator Tony McDaid had an overshoot and damaged the front of their car but with no problems sustained from this they continued to prepare for the event the following day, however it was not so easy for Kris Hall (19) from Appleby and navigator Robbie Durant. The pairing clipped a bank sending them into a spin ending with the car rolling. Some superb work through the night from their service crew allowed them to start and before long they were ready to begin the event all be it with some light exterior damage.

With Friday morning came dry weather conditions to greet the crews, as they got ready to face the first of eight tough stages. Stage one was the 7.22 miles of Staarvey. Breen would set the quickest time stopping the clocks on 7.02.3. Kris Hall was the second FST crew into the stage and when exiting a slow 90 left, he ran wide went off the road and the car once again rolled over. Suffering minimal damage apart from a heavily smashed windscreen the fourth round winner lost three minutes to Breen and with it the hopes of a second consecutive victory. Donnelly was also to suffer on this stage pulling a wheel off the car and ending his event instantly, a gutting disappointment. With the combination of these accidents it meant the stage was cancelled for the crews of Stefan Davis (26) from Aylesford and navigator Thomas Maguire, Harry Hunt (20) from London and navigator Kris Killip and Thomas Watson (18) from Glanamman and navigator Ken Bowman. All three of these crews received the nominal time of Breen. The final two competing crews were that of Matt Edwards (24) from Cockermouth and new navigator Rob Fagg and Billy Coleman award winner Ross Forde and navigator Gary McElhinney. With both of these crews competing in the BRC Challenge event it meant the stage had been cleared and they both competitively completed the stage with Forde finishing on 7.24.3 and Edwards finishing on 7.33.2

Stage two was the 11.21 of Kella. Breen again set the quickest time with Davis second fastest and Forde third quickest. Hall was still dropping time as he struggled to see through his broken windscreen. With no other dramas reported the crews headed to the final stage of the first loop of stages.

Stage three was the 7.14 miles of Ravensdale. After a promising start to the event this stage would catch out Davis. After a series of fast corners led into a tightening right hander he slid wide and put his wheels onto the grass, the wheels dug in it sending the car into a roll forcing his retirement for the day. Meanwhile Breen once again set a quickest time increasing his lead to an impressive 1.35.1 over Forde. This huge margin meant Breen could afford to rethink his strategy and control his pace just to ensure that he finished the event with maximum FST points. Forde was second quickest on the stage with Edwards third fastest.

At the first service of the day Hall was fitted with a new windscreen whilst the other remaining crews reported no problems. Following service was a loop of two more stages. SS4, 21.38 miles of Newtown was unfortunately cancelled for all the competing crews due to an earlier accident from an International competitor meaning SS5; Cringle at 13.66 miles was the only competitive test of this loop. Breen again set the quickest time a blistering 13.04.2, and with Hall now being able to see clearly again he upped his pace to take second quickest. Edwards took third fastest 25s adrift of Breen.

With the final visit to service where no crews had any problems the competing cars left to tackle the final three stages of the event. SS6, Glen Roy at 4.66 miles saw Hall take his first stage win. Breen was second quickest with Forde taking third fastest. Forde was really getting into his pace on asphalt and enjoying every minute of it.

The penultimate stage of the FST event was the short 3.30 miles of Maughold. Hall again set quickest time and with it managed to leapfrog Hunt into fifth overall. Breen set second quickest, an impressive time even if he had backed off the pace slightly, Edwards took third quickest with Forde fourth. The battle between Edwards and Forde for second would go down to the wire as they were separated by a mere 2.9 seconds as they headed into the final stage of the event.

At 12.47 miles Dog Mills would see Breen and Hall awarded a notional time as the stage was cancelled for these two crews due to an earlier accident. This awarded Breen the victory for the event but the main battle was still for second overall. Forde finished the stage in a time of 11.40.6 but Edwards struggled to meet this pace and finished the stage in 12.07.2 meaning he jumped ahead of Edwards and finished second by a margin of 23.7 seconds - a great result for the Billy Coleman award winner and his best result to date.

Hunt and Watson had also had a great battle all day setting very close times to each other and enjoying some great stage battles but at the end of the event it was Watson who would take fifth by 20.7 seconds to Hunt, both competitors ended the event jubilant with their results on what was a very tough and challenging rally.

Breen also clinched the Castrol Hard Charger award when he scored the highest number of stage wins during the FST event.

Away from the FST event the Manx International Rally counted as a double scoring event for the BRC Challenge. The Friday event saw Edwards take the overall win but the Saturday event saw Forde take the overall win, but with Forde not registered for points it left Edwards to take maximum points on both days and relight his BRC Challenge campaign. All the other finishing crews carried on to complete the full International event but it would be a long challenging second day where Breen would roll and retire, and Watson would also get caught out in the mist on one of the stages and finish up stuck in a field. This left Hall to be the first FST home and 11th Overall - a great result considering his two rolls during the event! Hunt would be the second FST home in the International event and finish an impressive 15th overall, his best International finish to date.

The next round of the series is the Toddsleap.com Ulster rally in August and the series second visit on Asphalt, and if this event is anything to go by it should be very exciting.

Championship leader, Craig Breen, said:
ìI am very happy and pleased with how the results eventually planned out, I really enjoyed the stages and we worked hard in the shakedown to get the car properly set up. Unfortunately after the FST event I tried to chase the faster cars but it didnít go to plan, however we achieved what we wanted to do on the event and I am now really looking forward to the Ulster Rally.î

Manx Rally Final Positions
Pos Driver Co-driver Road Penalty Total Difference
1 Craig Breen Gareth Roberts 1:16:27.3 2 Ross Forde Gary McElhinney 1:19:26.0 + 2:59.7
3 Matt Edwards Rob Fagg 1:19:49.7 + 23.7
4 Kris Hall Robbie Durant 1:21:22.2 + 1:56.2
5 Thomas Watson Ken Bowman 1:22:24.9 + 1:02.7
6 Harry Hunt Kris Killip 1:22:45.6 + 20.7
7 Mark Donnelly Tony McDaid DNF
8 Stefan Davis Thomas Maguire DNF

Collister completes Trophy hat-trick

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:49 PM

Home driver George Collister completed a hat-trick of wins on the Isle of Man Trophy Rally, with Janet Craine on the notes.

Brothers Lee and David Batty led throughout the first half of the event, though it was always a tight battle with Collister and the Darrian of James Hoseason and Maurice Jellie.

Collister eventually took the lead on his home Cringle stage, and held on over the final two stages for a 56.6s win, with Batty and Hoseason settling for second

Higgins makes Rally Isle of Man history

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:44 PM

Mark Higgins has become the first ever five time winner of Rally Isle of Man, his home international, after finally winning through an event long battle with Cork driver Keith Cronin.

There was some concern as to whether Mark and Bryan Thomas would even get their Pirelli TEG Sport Subaru to the start line of the second day after late clutch problems last night. In fact they had to drive the whole of the opening 60 mile loop across four stages without a working clutch, causing two stalls which handed the lead to Cronin.

Irish young gun Keith Cronin has truly impressed his peers on the Island, few take Mark Higgins on and trade tenths of seconds with him on the Manx stages, but Cronin did. He set the stages alight with talent and enthusiasm and truly proved himself as one to watch in the future.

Behind the top duo, it was an emotional finish for both the third and fourth placed finishers. In third place were Alistair Fisher and Rory Kennedy. Rory has completed the event many times with Alistairís uncle, the late Bertie Fisher, so both men commented on how much it meant to take a podium position on such a special event.

Meanwhile local driver Steve Quine went through the final time control with a tear in his eye, having taken his highest placed finish ever on his home international rally. Co-driven by Paul McCann he had struggled with brake problems on his Mitsubishi and had said he would be happy just to make the finish.

Euan Thorburn/Campbell Roy rounded off the top five, with Dave Weston Jr/Aled Davies taking sixth. Northern Irelandís Martin McCormack, co-driven by Phil Clarke, finished seventh overall, top two-wheel drive, and top in the Citroen C2-R2 Cup.

While Jason Pritchard/Andrew Edwards were relieved to take eighth after suffering with gearbox problems through the last loop of stages, and Tom Walster/Craig Parry managed to get their Renault Clio round to finish ninth despite struggling with initial set up. They also took the class R3 win.

Rounding out the top ten was local driver Andy Leece, co-driven by Richard Skinner. The duo were given the chance to compete in the Manx Motorsport Youth Trustís Fiesta, and at the finish Leece was quite emotional about taking a top ten result on his home event.

Evans/Lewis completes Historic dominance

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:44 PM

Gwyndaf Evans and Huw Lewis were fastest through every stage in the Historic Rally. Indeed, had they been competing in the International event, they could have finished third - in a 30 year old car.

They came home 5m14s ahead of Phil Collins and Diarmud Falvey in their Opel Ascona, and took top honours in the Category 3 class.

The Category 1 class was won by Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride in their Porsche 911, and Steve Smith took top honours in Category 2, with John Nichols co-driving.

Photos

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:43 PM

Results

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:41 PM

1 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11) 02:37:47.2
2 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo 9) 02:39:13.6
3 Alistair Fisher/Rory Kennedy (Mitsubishi Evo 9) 02:44:12.5
4 Steven Quine/Paul McCann (Mitsubishi Evo 6 GpA) 02:47:44.0
5 Euan Thorburn/Campbell Roy (Subaru Impreza N12B) 02:48:18.9
6 Dave Weston_Jnr/Aled Davies (Subaru Impreza N14) 02:52:10.0
7 Martin McCormack/Phil Clarke (Citroen C2 R2 Max) 02:53:17.4
8 Jason Pritchard/Andrew Edwards (Citroen C2 R2 Max) 02:54:15.4
9 Tom Walster/Craig Parry (Renault Clio R3) 02:54:30.5
10 Andrew Leece/Richard Skinner (Ford Fiesta ST) 02:57:47.8

Class winners:
Martin McCormack/Phil Clarke (Citroen C2R2 Max),
Steven Quine/Paul McCann.

Leaders
SS1 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS2-4 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo 9)
SS5-20 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)

Stage Winners:
SS1 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS2 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo 9)
SS3 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo 9)
SS4 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS5 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS6 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS7 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS8 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo 9)
SS9 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS10 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS11 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo 9)
SS12 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS13 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo 9)
SS14 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo 9)
SS15 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo 9)
SS16 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo 9)
SS17 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS18 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS19 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo 9)
SS20 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo 9)

Seeded Entry Lists

Posted: July 9, 2009 10:40 AM

Rally Isle of Man leads the way with live end of stage webcam coverage!

Posted: July 9, 2009 10:33 AM

Leading the way with internet technology, Rally Isle of Man will be using the latest technology to beam live photos from the end of stages this weekend.

The new system has been implemented by the event media team with assistance from NewsTXT.com.

“This is a fantastic step forward in our event coverage,” said Brian Walton, Chairman of Rally Isle of Man.

“We are already extremely proud of the fact that we constantly update our website with news flashes, driver quotes and audio interviews throughout the event. Now we can add live photos from the end of various stages which I believe may be a first for rallying. This helps us to promote the island, and allow anyone who is unable to visit the rally to get a closer look at the action.”

End of stage technology will update an image live from the end of stages and the Grandstand service park every 30 seconds, displaying the image automatically on the event website, www.rallyisleofman.co.im The image will be clearly labelled so visitors to the website know which stage the photo is from.

Rally Isle of Man drivers go back to school!

Posted: July 9, 2009 10:23 AM

Representatives from Rally Isle of Man, including three time British Rally Champion and four time event winner Mark Higgins, went back to school this morning to discuss the importance of road safety with the children of Manor Park School.

Mark was joined by Manx Motorsport Youth Trust team driver Andy Leece and his co-driver Richard Skinner, who’ll also be competing in high-speed action on the stages this Friday and Saturday.

They spent time showing the 130 children around their Youth Trust Ford Fiesta rally car. Mark is a Patron of the Trust.

The visit was arranged with the help of Ruth Richardson, a member of staff at Manor Park, and John Gill of the Department of Education. John is also the Chief Marshal for the rally, and Ruth marshals on the event.

Mark talked about how he got started in the rally, whilst Richard and Andrew explained how the Motorsport Youth Trust had given them the opportunity to be able to race and also how they began. The children enjoyed a question and answer session, the chance to sit in the car, and an opportunity to collect their autographs.

The school children were given reflective road safety armbands, sponsored by Pirelli.

The Irish Tarmac Rally Championship crosses the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man Rally.

Posted: July 9, 2009 10:17 AM

Round six of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship takes place on this weekend’s Isle of Man International rally . This year the Isle of Man rally slims down to two days of competition, helping to keep competitors costs to a minimum, but the challenge of this unique event will be retained in every sense. Over 170 asphalt stage miles will be packed into Friday and Saturday. The rally starts at 10am on Friday, taking in 100 stage miles, and concludes at 5pm on Saturday with the TT Grandstand celebrations after a further 75 miles of action.

In the absence of the Irish WRC brigade, the spotlight is firmly on the Group N cars and there will be excitement aplenty on the twenty special stages for the rally fans.
Leading Group N in the Tarmac Rally Championship is Alan Carmichael, the Ballymena driver has scored thirty five points, just one ahead of Ger O’Donovan in second place. Third overall is Alastair Fisher, the Fermanagh man ten points adrift of O’ Donovan and he will be keen to make up for his misfortune on the last round in Donegal where he retired with a broken clutch. Newry driver Rory Byrne holds fourth place with nineteen points, just four ahead of Keith Cronin. Cronin leads the British Rally Championship two points ahead of Mark Higgins. The Isle of man rally hosts the fourth round of that series.

Once again Daragh O’ Riordan has entered his Renault Clio in the Super 1600 class. The Corkman has a maximum score on each event and is now the class winner. In class six Jason Pritchard can get up to third in class if he gets his Citroen C2R2 to the finish.
In class three Craig Breen and Kyle Orr are entered in their Fiestas and they are joined by Steve Graham in the Astra Diesel. Breen and Orr are second and third in this class, and Breen also has a huge lead in the Irish Fiesta Sporting Trophy. The Honda Civic of Joseph Mc Gonigle is entered in class two and the Donegal man can extend his class lead with a finish. Similarly Derek Boyd can extend his championship lead in the Historic class with the Porsche 911.

Isle of Man Previews

Posted: July 8, 2009 6:10 PM

Isle of Man International Rally preview – It’s not just about Higgins!
While Mark Higgins bid for a historic fifth Rally Isle of Man title will take centre stage on Friday and Saturday’s event, there’s plenty more to talk about as well on this 46th Isle of Man International Rally.

Higgins vs Keith Cronin certainly seems to be the shout for overall victory, a continuation of their MSA British Rally Championship battle, which 22-year old Cork man Cronin currently leads 2-1 at half-time (event wins).

Ideal then for a fightback that they arrive on Mark’s home asphalt. He is certainly aware of what he needs to do after witnessing in person Keith’s demolition of Irelands top national WRC drivers on the Ravens Rock event ten days ago.

However, should either of them trip up, there are several other ‘young guns’ lying in wait. Northern Ireland’s Alistair Fisher and Jonathan Greer (both in Evo 9’s), Bristol’s Adam Gould (Pirelli TEG Sport Subaru), Dumfries’ David Bogie (JRM-Lico Evo X) and fellow Scot’s Euan Thorburn (Revolution Wheels Subaru) and Dave Weston Jnr (Subaru) will all be hopeful of improving their title challenge.

In the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship five of the top seven group N drivers will be in action, headed by Ballymena’s Alan Carmichael (Evo 9), but with Rory Byrne hoping to eat into his lead, along with Fisher and Cronin who both figure.

The event is also a round of three single make series.

Eleven crews will contest the Fiesta Sport TrophyUK round, where crews can opt to do either the full International or Challenge rallies. Joint leader Kyle Orr, from Dromore will do the full event, while fellow leader Matt Edwards has opted for the Challenge (one of three crews to do so).

The competition is so close however that any one of half a dozen drivers could take the points. Appleby’s Kris Hall comes into the event on a high after winning in Scotland a couple of weeks ago, while Northern Irishmen Mark Donnelly and Craig Breen are both within striking distance of the series lead. Don’t discount local driver Andrew Leece (Douglas) and his experienced co-driver Richard Skinner either, who tackle the Fiesta competition for the first time.

Northern Ireland is proving a hotbed of young rallying talent just now, and it’s the same in the Citroen C2 R2 Cup. Draperstown’s Martin McCormack has been highly touted ever since arriving on the historic rallying scene three ears ago, but he is proving just as adept in front wheel drive machinery, and leads the Cup standings with full points haul’s on both the Pirelli and Jim Clark rallies. 2008 champion Jason Pritchard (Builth Wells) took the opening North Wales event, and consistent finishes by Mark Gamble (Wolverhampton) ensure a close fought title chase.

The girls lead the way in the Suzuki Swift Sport Cup, with Australia’s fast lady Molly Taylor and her English co-driver Jemma Bellingham taking two wins so far. Molly admits she’s not at home on asphalt however and Scotland’s Gordon Nichol took advantage on the Jim Clark. Can Ramsey’s David Harrison, the reigning BRC Challenge champion, come to the fore on his home stages? It would certainly be a welcome kick-start to any title aspirations.

Overall the local challenge looks strong. There have always been Manx drivers capable of top ten finishes (Higgins and Rowe’s aside), with Ian Corkill, Gary Leece and Rob Watson regularly doing so. This year however could be the first where two local residents figure in the leaderboard, if not higher still.

Steve Quine (Douglas) has moved up to an Evo 6 this year, and briefly led the Manx National in May, while Nigel Cannell (Santon) has surpassed him car-wise by picking up an ex-ADR Evo 9. Both have the ability to figure prominently.

Every crew will have their own targets and for many simply reaching the finish of one of the British isles toughest and most prestigious events will be reward enough.

That challenge is a big enough draw to bring competitors from all corners of the these isles and Australia, Belgium, Finland, France and Japan too.

The Isle of Man International Rally tackles 20 high-speed stages on closed public roads.

The event then roars into life from the TT Grandstand at 10am sharp on Friday morning, with local hero Mark Higgins leading the field into action.

Always a huge challenge, the near 12-hour day is one of the longest in British rallying, taking in 100 stage miles across the island over 12 tests on closed public roads. They include the mammoth 21.38-mile Newtown test (SS4), one of the longest anywhere in the British Isles, and the traditional night-time double header through the streets of Castletown (SS10/11), ancient capital of Man.

Saturday is no easy run to the champagne either. A further eight tests complete the event, covering another 80 miles. As well as another run at Newtown (SS17), the Classic stage (SS20) brings crews to quite literally a Grandstand finish, covering the final miles of the TT course in full competition. Whoever sprays the champagne will certainly have earnt it!


Rally Isle of Man preview - locals in the thick of the action!
The continued strength of Manx rallying shows up across all the entry lists for this week’s Rally Isle of Man.

In the main Isle of Man International Mitsubishi runners Steve Quine and Paul McCann and Nigel and Michaela Cannell have genuine hopes of top six finishes from their start numbers of 11 and 12.

Andrew Leece and Richard Skinner (car 20) will look to pace themselves against the other Fiesta trophy runners, but will also eye a top 15 finish overall.

Co-driver Kris Killip will be one of their Fiesta opponents, lining up with Harry Hunt. David Harrison’s focus meanwhile will be on the Suzuki Swift Cup battle.

Other locals tackling the main event are Rob Callin and Chris Reynolds (Evo 8) and young Richard Kneen who makes his international rally debut in an MG ZR.

Co-driver Rob Fagg is chasing Fiesta series points with Matt Edwards in the Challenge Rally, while David Radcliffe continues his learning curve after contesting the Jim Clark Rally in May.

Ashley Trimble is the top seeded home competitor in the Historic Rally, reading the notes for Ernie Graham in his Escort RS1600.

Local attention however is likely to focus on the father v son battle of Ian and Connor Corkill, competing for the first time in similar specification cars, both MkII Escort’s.

Ulster legend Derek Boyd is a Douglas resident these days and with daughter Roisin will continue their pursuit of the Irish Tarmac Post Historic title in their Porsche 911.

There’s also the eagerly awaited debut of John Kirkpatrick and Marty Quine in a recently acquired Lotus Sunbeam, rolling back the years, and Declan Jackson who always seems to set a cracking pace in his Escort but rarely lasts the course.

Matty Collister (Escort) and Stephen Higgins (Cooper S) are the other local drivers.

Of course most of the home attention is focussed on the Trophy Rally.

George Collister with Janet Craine start Saturday’s event as favourite, but Lee and David Batty (Escort) could be right there, along with Dave Corris (Fiesta Cosworth), Carine Walker (BMW 325) and Glen Leece, out in nephew Andrew’s Subaru Impreza.

There are plenty of other crews too, and much of the silverware on Saturday night is likely to be staying on-island.


Isle of Man Trophy Rally preview - Collister out to continue Manx domination
George Collister starts Saturday’s Isle of Man Trophy Rally as undoubted favourite.

The Peel driver is part of the usual strong local challenge…so strong in fact that you have to go right back to 2000 to find the last non-Manx winners of the event, in the guise of Northern Irishman Andrew Nesbitt.

Collister swept to victory 12 months ago, following up on his previous Trophy win in 2002, and he’s been in the kind of form so far this year that makes him very hard to oppose as he bids for a hat-trick in his Mitsubishi Evo 3 with Janet Craine alongside.

The pair dominated the second round of the Manx Rally Championship, winning every stage, and even led the Manx National outright in May after the opening stage, eventually finishing sixth.

Norwich’s James Hoseason will not be giving up without a fight however. The Darrian T90 driver scored a string of stage wins last year, and if it’s dry, should be near the pace.

Other locals too will try to hold George to book.

Brothers Lee and David Batty crashed out last year, but have proven pace on the closed roads in their immaculate MkII Escort. Carine Walker and Danni Matthews (BMW 325) finished third last year, while veteran’s Glen Leece and John Tarrant should be in with a shout if they can familiarise themselves first time out in a Subaru Impreza.

Star of the cars however will be the Tuthill Audi Quattro driven by London’s Edmund Peel and Kevin Devine. The sight and sound will make watching the Trophy a must for all spectators.

The Trophy Rally gets underway from the TT Grandstand on Saturday morning and takes in all eight of the days stages, covering 80 miles. These include the daunting 21.38 mile Newtown and 13.83 Cringle tests, the two longest tests of the event. The rally concludes with the 13.27 mile Classic, bringing crews into Douglas at full stage speed and finishing at the famous TT Grandstand itself!

Scrutineering takes placed at Eurocars, Peel Road, Douglas this Friday.

The Isle of Man Trophy Rally is designed to give clubmen the change to be a part of Rally Isle of Man and tackle the world-famous Manx stages. It has classes for all vehicles, 1600cc and below, 1600cc to 2-litres, and over 2-litre engines and turbo-charges cars


Isle of Man Challenge Rally preview - Archer aims to prove title ambition
The Isle of Man Challenge Rally is a crucial event in the BRC Challenge, a feeder series for the main British Championship, won last year by local Ramsey driver David Harrison.

Harrison has moved up to the main BRC this year, but once again the island looks destined to play a huge role in determining the destination of the title, not least of all because it is the first of two events where two sets of points are up for grabs.

And that means a real opportunity for Richard Archer to press home his current advantage at the top of the standings.

Norfolk driver Archer, 55, is no stranger to Manx roads, having been a regular competitor on the full International Rally throughout the 1990’s. As then, he’ll be at the wheel of a Vauxhall, a Corsa, with Essex’s Tom Ward alongside. Already this season the pair have taken victories on both the Pirelli and Jim Clark rallies.

The first event of the Challenge, the North Wales Rally, went the way of Cockermouth’s Matt Edwards in a Ford Fiesta, and Edwards is also contesting the Fiesta Sporting Trophy, where he is joint series leader. To help his push for both titles he’s recruited local co-driver Rob Fagg from Kirk Michael to read the notes, and his vast experience of the island should be a real benefit.

Co. Galway’s Ross Forde is another tackling the Fiesta Trophy primarily, so Hertfordshire’s Brett Griffin (Peugeot 106) and Neil Matthews from Halesowen (Vauxhall Nova) are the key men for Archer to watch. They currently lye third and fourth respectively.

Another young Ramsey driver also features, David Radcliffe (Suzuki Swift) looking to continue gaining experience at this level.

The Challenge competitors will tackle the opening eight stages on Friday, covering 81 stage miles, and including the daunting 21.38 mile Newtown and 13.83 Cringle tests.

The slate is then wiped clean with crews starting afresh for a further eight stages and another 80 miles follow on Saturday, chasing another set of points. The two longest stages of the rally are tackled once again, as is the 13.27 mile Classic finale, bringing crews into Douglas at full stage speed and finishing at the famous TT Grandstand itself!

The BRC Challenge is aimed at up and coming drivers and those seeking cost-effective motorsport while still competing on Britain’s best events. It is open to front-wheel drive cars only, with classes ranging from 1400cc to 2-litre.


Isle of Man Historic Rally preview – Close competition likely from quality line-up
The Isle of Man Historic Rally, a favourite with competitors, has attracted a high-quality field.

The two-day event marks round five of the ultra-competitive Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship, and is also a counter in the Irish Tarmac Historic series.

Former British Rally Champion Gwyndaf Evans (Powys) heads the entry list, with Huw Lewis alongside. They were here as recently as two years ago at the very head of the International field, yet such is the pace at the front of the Historic’s that they are by no means favourites this weekend.

Indeed Gwyndaf has admitted to being nervous about bringing the Viking Motorsport Escort, run by former World Champion co-driver Phil Mills, to the island, and had a pre-event test last week during a brief break from a week-long charity bike ride!

Steven Smith (Bedfordshire) and John Nicholls, last years post-historic class winners will be next over the TT Grandstand ramp in their Porsche 911. The pair are long-famed for some brilliant drives on the island, and such is the draw that this will be their first event of the year.

Carmarthen’s Mark Solloway is next up, and he has been proving all year he has the pace, although he will need to acclimatise to the island in the Escort RS1800.

Darren Moon (Leeds) and Will Onions (Shrewsbury) should also be in the big Escort battle in the classic category, but there also other intriguing entries…

…Hereford’s Phil Collins is another with along-standing Manx pedigree, and will most definitely be one to watch in a new Opel Ascona. Similarly Guy Woodcock (Llanferres, Escort) was aiming for a top 10 International finish last year before crashing out on the final morning.

Add in another former International top six finisher in local man Ian Corkill, and his son Connor, both in identical Escort’s, former winner David Stokes (Gloucestershire, Escort), and now Douglas-based Northern Irish legend Derek Boyd (Porsche 911), and you really do have the makings of a cracker!

In the Historic category for cars registered before 1968, Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride aim for a fourth consecutive win in their Porsche 911.

The Isle of Man Historic Rally tackles 19 of the 20 stages being run across the event, missing only the final test on Friday night, West Baldwin (SS12). Friday therefore represents 86 competitive miles, with a further 80 on Saturday.

Inaugural island encounter for JR Motorsports

Posted: July 7, 2009 5:39 PM

It will be another first for the JR Motorsports, when its rally team heads half-way across the Irish sea for round four of this year’s MSA British Rally Championship for the Rally Isle of Man.

Driving the team’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, David Bogie and co-driver Kevin Rae will be looking to set the records straight following round three, the Jim Clark Rally, when an accident on the first day followed by an engine problem on the second forced them into an early retirement.

Since then, the team has rebuilt and tested its Evo X and therefore has high hopes that the car will perform well over the Manx roads. They are confident that the car’s inherently good handling coupled with its exe-tc suspension system will cope well with the changing character of the island’s bumpy and undulating stages.

Adding to the determination to grab a top result, David is aware that he needs a good haul of points to keep his and the team’s title hopes alive. He has also admitted he has a score to settle, as his previous visits to the Isle of Man have not gone according to plan, as the 21-year old Scot explains:

“I have competed on the island twice before and, although being on the pace, both times have resulted in a damaged car. I’ve now got more experience on tarmac and therefore, as it’s a long and demanding rally, it’s a case of not making any mistakes, treating the car well and getting to the finish - a strategy that will almost certainly bring us a good result.”

After finishing fourth in round one and third in round two, David still holds a respectable sixth place in the British Championship Driver’s standings, even after recording a non-finish last time out. JR Motorsports are currently second in the Team’s category and, as they are only fielding one car next weekend, the aim will be to grasp as many points as possible.

Regarded as a motorsport mecca, the Isle of Man has become a regular feature in the BRC calendar. This year sees the event format condensed to just two days, although crews will still have to tackle a total of 180 stage miles.

The rally starts from the Douglas TT grandstand at 10.00am on Friday morning and see 113 miles split into 12 special stages before the overnight halt. A further 67 miles and eight stages take place on Saturday, before the finish in front of the grandstand on Saturday afternoon.

JR Motorsports’ 2009 British Rally Championship campaign is supported by: Oakbank Services, exe-tc competition suspension, Lico, Opie Oils, PPG Transmissions and Carbonetics Clutches.

First asphalt attack of the year for the FST

Posted: July 7, 2009 5:38 PM

The fifth round of the Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy takes place this weekend at the Manx International Rally, based in the seaside resort of Douglas. The event sees the FST reunite with the British Rally Championship (BRC) and allows competitors to compete in the dual format option of the FST series whereby registered crews may take part in the FST event and also the full two day BRC event or the double-header BRC Challenge event. The FST event starts on SS1 of the event and finishes after SS8.

The Manx sees a new challenge for all crews in that it is the first of two Tarmac events for the 2009 series. With a number of Irish crews who specialise on asphalt competing against the regular top FST UK crews, it should be an interesting and exciting battle for the victory.

The championship is currently jointly led by Matt Edwards (24) from Cockermouth and Kyle Orr (19) from Dromore. Edwards is competing in the BRC Challenge part of the event and comes to the island with no Tarmac experience in his Fiesta ST. Edwards has a new navigator in the form of Rob Fagg who is a local from the island and the new pairing will hope to use this advantage to their maximum. Although an outright win on his first attempt at tarmac will be a tall order Edwards hopes to score as many points as possible in order to retain his lead in the series whilst also closing the deficit to the leader of the BRC Challenge series, in which he currently lies sixth overall.

Orr had a slightly disappointing result on the previous round of the FST UK series, the RSAC Scottish rally, finishing fifth overall. However, the talented Irish youngster will hope that his tarmac experience from previous years in the FST UK and Irish series will give him an upper hand in the fight for the win on the Manx.

Craig Breen (18) from Waterford and co-driver Gareth Roberts come to the event as strong favourites for the win. Breen has shown impeccable form on the FST Irish Tarmac rounds this year winning the last three events in a row. Breen will be competing on the full International event and is currently three points off the series lead in the UK; therefore, his aim this weekend will be to score highly and to leave the island with the championship lead.

Mark Donnelly (17) from Omagh and navigator Paddy Robinson struggled on the last round of the UK series with the organiser’s route notes; but with the ability to complete a recce on this event and make their own tailored pacenotes, the crew will be more confident and ready to tackle the competition. Donnelly has been close to victory a number of times this year but has never quite realised his dream, so this weekend they will hope for their first maximum points haul.

Kris Hall (19) from Appleby and navigator Robbie Durant come to the event fresh on the heels of a victory on the previous round of the series. After struggling to keep up with the front-runners on Rounds 2 and 3 of the series, Hall will now hope to continue his winning streak and get back to the top of the standings.

Stefan Davis (26) from Aylesford and new navigator Tim Line return to the series after missing out the previous two rounds. Davis’ main aim for the event is to score points in the BRC and aim for the BRC Pirelli Star Driver nomination, but coming so close to the win on Round 1, his winning potential should not be underestimated.

For Harry Hunt (20) from London and new navigator Kris Killip, the event will be a new challenge for the crew. With Hunt now eligible for his international competition licence, he is able to compete in the full International event and face two days of daunting competition. Hunt retired on SS1 of the previous event after getting stuck in a ditch and therefore will aim to finish this event. The fact that Hunt competed on the Manx National Rally earlier this year coupled with local navigators Killip’s experience should mean that the pairing are well prepared for this event.

Tom Watson (18) from Glanamman and co-driver Ken Bowman are in the same situation as Hunt, with the advantage of having an international licence they have also decided to enter the full BRC event. Watson has been competing in as many events as possible this year and, having competed in some Tarmac rallies including the Jim Clark leading up to this event, he will hope to be on the pace and challenge for a top spot finish.

The final two entries for the event are Billy Coleman award winner Ross Forde (25) from Galway and navigator Gary McElhinney and Robert Barrable (21) from Dublin and navigator Seamus O’Grady. With both of these crews new to the series this year, they have made headway in raising their pace to that of the leaders in a very short period of time. Forde and Barrable will look to continue this trend on the Isle of Man and hope to come away with maximum points scores.

With all of the crews bar Edwards, Barrable and Forde competing in the full International event, it will be an interesting weekend to see the progress of the FST crews against the more powerful 4WD cars entered into the event.

The Kick Energy FST UK has a prize fund in excess of £18,000, with £750 for the winner of each round down to £75 for eighth place.

Current joint championship leader, Matt Edwards, said:
“This weekend will be all about staying out of trouble and maintaining a steady pace; a finish on my first Tarmac event will be the highest priority. It would be nice to be heading the championship come a week today; however, I have to be realistic in realising that many of my closest competitors have had much more experience on Tarmac than I have. Obtaining points, as well as building experience on a new surface, is key.”

Swift Sport Cup – Round 4 preview

Posted: July 7, 2009 5:36 PM

The Swift Sport Cup continues to be strong in the MSA British Rally Championship, all six cars that started the season making the trip across the Irish Sea for round four of the series, Rally Isle of Man.

Australian Molly Taylor heads the all-Suzuki Championship in her first full season in the BRC, having surprised the boys with victories on the two gravel events. The tussle for the lead has been a three way affair though; Luke Pinder and Richard Sykes keeping the young Aussie honest, swapping fastest stage times on each event.

All three have had their share of problems though, Pinder rolling spectacularly out of the lead of the Pirelli, Sykes repeating the feat on tarmac when Taylor faltered with damaged suspension after her own excursion.

In second in the Cup though, is the only driver with a season's experience of the little 1600cc Suzukis, Scot Gordon Nichol shining on home asphalt to take his first victory last time out. Pinder and Sykes follow, the Swift Sport Cup reflecting the same positions as the BRC’s Rally 1 class, although the lone Honda of Joseph McGonigle has split the Swifts on several occasions.

Taking more time to get to grips with their new steeds are Manxman David Harrison and Yorkshireman Nick Everard. Harrison’s prize of free entries in the 2009 BRC courtesy of winning last year’s BRC Challenge, has not gone smoothly so far, taking scant consolation from second on the Pirelli. The pair both have two no-scores, mainly due to mechanical problems, so will be playing catch-up for the remainder of the season, since the best five scores count towards the British Rally Championship.

The level of experience of the Manx lanes will no doubt play an essential part in the outcome of this 180 mile event, Taylor and Everard at a disadvantage on this tricky rally. Manxman Harrison was unstoppable on last year’s BRC Challenge, but Sykes is definitely quick on asphalt, Pinder and Nichol also capable of winning the event.

However the form book could easily be overturned if the unpredictable weather turns; two days and twenty stages of trying to second guess tyre choice could also make the difference between victory and departure from the fray.

BHRC preview, round five: Isle of Man Historic Rally

Posted: July 6, 2009 7:02 PM

The unique challenge of the Isle of Man marks round five of the Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Isle of Man Historic Rally on 9/10 July.

The annual trip across the water to the Isle of Man is always one of the highlights of the BHRC schedule. Two full days of intense competition on the island roads makes the Isle of Man Historic Rally a fitting event for this prestigious championship and the 2009 edition should be a cracker.

Category 1
Heading the category one entry is the Sunbeam Tiger of son and father crew Jonathan and Graham Gale. This is the car used so effectively by Patrick Watts over the last two seasons and Gale is now driving it with panache. This is the car that is likely to set the pace out of the blocks, but the Isle of Man represents perhaps the best opportunity for Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride to really take the fight to Gale. They know the island incredibly well and their Porsche 911 is always strong there, so they will be chasing hard to add another Manx victory to their tally.

Adding further strength to the class B5 field is former Escort crew Rikki Proffitt and Phill Harrison in the ex-Steven Smith Porsche 911. This is a new venture for Proffitt, and his pace will be the major talking point in category one. In the other classes in category one, BHRC title contenders Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell will be leading B4 runners in their Lotus Cortina, while the Isle of Man debut for Alan Honess/Tim Sayer in their class B3 Ford Cortina GT will be interesting to watch. Isle of Man veterans John and Stephen Moxon are back with their Volvo Amazon 122S to contest their 36th rally on the island.

This event always brings out a contingent of very quick Mini Coopers from the island and Ireland, including the car of Stephen Higgins/David Corlett, while a welcome return is made by son and father crew, Matt and Dood Pearce in their Cooper S. Then, all the way from Japan come Shinobu Kitani and Makoto Mizoi to compete in their Mini Cooper S. In class B1, Gary and Jane Edgington will again deliver a heroic performance in their Singer Chamois.

Category 2
Category two is for the cars from 1968 to 1974, so this is all about Ford Escorts and Porsche 911s. Heading the field will be BHRC title contenders Rupert Lomax and David Alcock in their Escort Mk1. Rupert will be one of the most spectacular drivers on the island and if it all holds together, he will be very tough to beat. Out to stop the North Wales driver will be David Stokes/Guy Weaver and Ernie Graham/Ashley Trimble in two more very quick Mk1 Escorts, while Bob Bean and Malcolm Smithson are out again in their Mk1.

However, the island has always been good to the Porsches in category two and at least four of them could feature strongly. Most notable is the car of reigning BHRC champions Steven Smith and John Nichols, out for the first time this season to contest their favourite event. They are a bit out of practice, but will surely feature as the event progresses. Irish veteran Derek Boyd and his daughter Roisin will be very strong, as will Peter Smith/Graham Wild and Peter Lythell/Gill Cotton.

Class C3, for the Pinto-engined Escort Mk1s is one of the most competitive of the BHRC and another mighty contest is in prospect. The key players are XS Racing stable mates Drew Wylie/Howard Pridmore and Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson along with Ken Forster/John Stanger-Leathes and James Slaughter/Phil Peak. With category pacesetter Tim Jones electing to miss this event, his rivals will take the chance to narrow the points' gap.

Category 3
Category three is for the most recent cars up to 1981. This is all about Escort Mk2s and the top D5 cars will surely set the overall pace. Star entry is the Escort of Gwyndaf Evans/Huw Lewis, the car built by World Champion co-driver Phil Mills. Their rivals include Darren Moon/Chris Parsons and Will Onions/Tim Hobbs, but the arrival of Mark Solloway and Den Golding in the entry list could really spice up the action. Solloway has limited experience of the island, but will surely be very quick indeed.

However, there is massive strength in the D5 field, including and local crews Conor Corkill/Howard Allison and Ian Corkill/Rivka Corkill. The Corkill dynasty is steeped in Manx rallying history and young Conor is showing tremendous pace as he competes against his father Ian.

But category three is not just about Escort Mk2s. Roger Kilty and Lynette Banks are getting quicker and quicker in their Vauxhall Chevette HSR, while the Lotus Sunbeams of Adrian and Daniel Seabridge and John Kirkpatrick/Martyn Quine are capable of mixing it with the Escorts. Then, there is the glorious Opel Ascona 400 of Phil Collins/Derek Brannigan, as the Welsh ace makes a welcome return to the island. Adding to the category three mix is the Porsche 911 of Mike Anderson/Mark Perryman, which could be a real darkhorse for a top result.

Finally, a great contest is in prospect among the Pinto-powered class D3 Escorts of Mark and Brett Clifford, Guy Woodcock/Iwan Jones and Chris Shooter/Bev LeGood.

The historic rally starts from Douglas on Friday morning (9 July) and finishes on Saturday afternoon.

MSA British Rally Championship Mid season report & Rally Isle of Man preview

Posted: July 6, 2009 7:00 PM

If the 2009 MSA British Rally Championship’s second half continues like the first, it will probably go down as one of the most closely fought and exciting in the series’ 51 year history. The forthcoming and widely anticipated Rally Isle of Man on July 10th & 11th, is the start of the run to the finish and the second of three straight tarmac events for the crews.

Back in March when the season began, it was unclear whether the battle for supremacy would be as interesting as the last few years, since the majority of competitors signing up for the Championship were youngsters with little experience of the pressure at the top.

At Bulldog Rally North Wales, a new opening event for the BRC, triple Champion Mark Higgins looked like being the favourite, since reigning champ Guy Wilks was seeking a return to the World stage.

But it was 22 year old Irishman Keith Cronin who astonished old and new alike, setting a pace that was equal to Higgins’, the pair even tied to the tenth of a second after the first two stages. And as the event drew to a close Cronin held his nerve when Higgins bent his suspension, snatching victory on the final stage to lead the Championship.

In the chasing pack were more youngsters too, all eager to make their mark. Stuart Jones rejoined the fray with a fine third place, while 2008 Pirelli Star Driver winner Adam Gould, newcomers to the BRC David Bogie and Dave Weston Jnr and newcomer to four wheel drive Alastair Fisher finished within 45 seconds of one another.

By the time of the Pirelli International Rally the sense of anticipation was tangible at the new Carlisle Racecourse Rally HQ, as Guy Wilks returned to the series in a Proton Super 2000. Having won all the BRC gravel rounds in 2007 and 2008, the reigning champion set about picking up where he left off, immediately building a gap to Higgins. Phillip Morrow briefly held third with some good times on his one-off return to the BRC, but Cronin was elevated to third when he crashed out.

Cronin’s pace was stunning though, forcing an error from Wilks after setting a pair of fastest times on his debut Pirelli. Wilks minor excursion ultimately proved his undoing when the car caught fire soon afterwards, halting the stage as the following cars stopped to help extinguish the blaze. Wilks’ departure left the way clear for Cronin to continue reeling in Higgins for the lead, a feat he managed on the final stage for the second event in a row.

The youngsters provided entertainment and a close battle for the third step of the podium again, Bogie hanging on for an excellent third. But Fisher was just 1.8 seconds behind this time, with Johnny Greer and Weston Jnr within 35 seconds of the battle for bronze.

The Jim Clark International saw a change in surface, for the first of three asphalt events in the BRC season. Higgins not only needed a win to put his title hopes back on track, but there was the small challenge of winning the event for the fifth time in succession, a feat never before achieved on any BRC event in its 51 years.

After the second stage it looked like it may be an easy ride for the Manxman, as Cronin punctured and lost two minutes. But problems with Higgins’ Impreza and an impeccable drive from Cronin saw the gap closed to less than three seconds with just three stages remaining. It was Higgins who held his nerve this time though, the misfire and differential problems resolved just in time for him to defend his lead.

Higgins’ eventual winning margin was just over eleven seconds, astonishingly the largest gap so far this year. It was enough to put him back in the title race, the fifth consecutive Jim Clark BRC win an added bonus under the circumstances. Two points split the pair as they travel to Higgins’ home event, his wish to repeat last year’s trio of tarmac victories more pressing than ever.

The chasing pack seems to be taking turns on the podium, Adam Gould rising to the challenge on the Jim Clark Rally with third. But it was at the expense of two others who had held the place; local man Euan Thorburn dropped to fourth with last minute driveshaft failure, while Fisher carried a one minute penalty for a timing error. Jonny Greer set some top three times to take fifth on the same minute.

It would be a foolish gambler who bet against Higgins taking victory on his home Manx lanes, particularly as he could take overall honours for the second year in a row. But the pack is set to pounce at the hint of a mistake or signs of pressure from the triple Champ; all in all another great reason to keep a close eye on the excitement that is The British Rally Championship.

International Rally Isle of Man is based entirely at the excellent TT Grandstand facility overlooking Douglas, from where cars will start at 10am on Friday 10th July. 100 stage miles later they return at 9pm for a well deserved overnight halt, before a 9am Saturday re-start.

A whisker over 80 miles then separates the remaining crews from the champagne finish at around 4.15pm; a total 20 stages deciding the outcome of what will undoubtedly be a thrilling event.

Manx Challenge for BRCC

Posted: July 6, 2009 5:44 PM

As the 2009 BRC Challenge season approaches its half-way point, the first of two innovative format events, Rally Isle of Man, will get underway on Friday and Saturday 10th & 11th July.

Richard Archer and Thomas Ward head the field, as crews tackle their option of “overseas” events, choosing the double header Manx event over the similar format Ulster Rally in August. Archer will be on a charge for a hat-trick of victories in the ultra-quick Corsa, but he is likely to be pushed all the way by round one winner and Fiesta SportTrophy (FST) leader Matt Edwards and Manx co-driver Rob Fagg. Having missed the Jim Clark Rally, Edwards is playing catch-up on points, as he lies sixth in the series, a full 41 points adrift of Archer

Archer may feel reasonably safe at the front, since his nearest rival John Boyd will not be there. But with 31 points available on each of the two Isle of Man events, next nearest rivals Brett Griffin/Sam Fordham and Neil Matthews/John Connor could easily leapfrog ahead with good results.

To further add to the intrigue, FST driver Ross Forde will run third on the road on his second visit to the Manx lanes. While he can score points in the BRCC, this is his first event in the 2009 series, the Irishman having switched from the British Rally Championship, but still able to score in the FST.

Leading RC1 class driver Matthews will hope that he and Connor can maintain the momentum they seem to be building as the season progresses, struggling early on but showing good pace on the Jim Clark where they took third.

Another crew leading their class, RC2, Griffin and Fordham will continue their steep asphalt learning curve on the tricky Manx lanes, the Peugeot driver admitting back on the Jim Clark, that it was his first non-airfield sealed surface rally.

Ex single seater FST competitor Robert Barrable will be looking to not only gain more points in the Fiesta series, but to close the gap to the highest placed Junior category driver on this event, James Watts. Barrable and fellow Irishman Seamus O’Grady have had a difficult 2009 so far, failing to finish on Rally North Wales and missing the Jim Clark Rally.

Manx youngster David Radcliffe and Cumbrian co-driver Steve Hartley should go well here, having been second on round four last year. Their experience on round five, (the event split in ’08 as this year), was not so good though, clipping a rock in their Swift.

James Watts is re-joined on Rally Isle of Man by Janice Moore, the partnership formed on the Pirelli obviously working well. Still driving the diminutive Polo, Watts took two excellent third places last year and narrowly missed out on third in the Championship after a last round retirement.

Finally Austin McKinlay and Anthony Palmer will hope for a better event than last time out. Transmission problems left them with little mileage on the Jim Clark Rally, so they effectively start their BRCC asphalt experience here on the difficult Manx lanes.

Obviously the Island is famous for motorsport and the whole event is based at the famous TT Grandstand overlooking Douglas, but another feature which has played its part in deciding this classic event is the swiftly changing weather.

Tyre choice will be critical in potentially changeable conditions and with two rallies in one, the permutations of who could lead the British Rally Championship’s support series after Saturday’s fifth round are endless.

Forde geared up for Rally Isle of Man

Posted: July 6, 2009 5:26 PM

Irish crew Ross Forde and Gary McElhinney will contest the famous Rally Isle of Man next Friday (10th July).

The Irish crew will be back in action in the opening tarmac round of the UK Fiesta Sporting Trophy in their Irish Sports Council and Motorsport Ireland backed Ford Fiesta ST across the hills on the 322-mile Douglas-based event.

They head into the rally following four runs across a more unfamiliar gravel surface and positioned very strong in 6th place with only 3points separating the top 5 positions in the one make British fiesta series.

This is not Fordes first time to the Isle of Man. After causing a stir last year with his impressive pace he will be one to watch this year down the narrow lanes of Newtown and Ramsey.

Co-driver Gary has never navigated across the Island stages before but insists hes not going to be fazed by the unknown territory and he is up for the challenge and looking forward to a good result. .

“We’re going to be going for it 100% and look for that first victory,” the 25-year-old said. “This is our first time this year on tarmac and we are really fired up for this one" " I really enjoy the narrow bumpy stages of the Isle of Man and i know it well so we hopefully should go well"

“The championship is still open and it’s going to be interesting what happens on the two tarmac rounds that are up next"

Going into the rally, Forde and McElhinney are sixth overall in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy and still within reach of the title.

This is the half way point of the season which Forde is competing in fully funded M-Sport run Fiesta. This funding is the prize for winning the Billy Coleman Award young rally driver of the year 2008.

The pair will start at number 62 and seeded third in the challenge category their M-Sport and Galway Mini Centre-prepared Fiesta ST.

Higgins targets more Rally Isle of Man history

Posted: July 6, 2009 11:31 AM

Three time British Rally champion Mark Higgins will bid to make yet more history on this weeks 46th Rally Isle of Man.

Having last year taken a first ever win on the event for a ‘showroom’ group N car, and after in 2005 becoming the first driver to win every stage of any British Championship round, the mid-Wales based Manxman will return to home soil aiming to become the first ever five-time winner of one of the British Isles most prestigious rallies.

If he is to achieve the feat, he would move ahead of the illustrious company of Russell Brookes and Tony Pond who currently also appear on the roll of honour four times.

Bryan Thomas, who co-drove Mark to victory on two of those four victories (2000 and 2005), will also be bidding to join Derek Ringer as the only co-driver to score four wins.

The Pirelli TEG Sport Subaru team are unlikely to have it all their own way however when they roll off the start ramp next Friday morning for two action-packed days.

The event features as the fourth round of the MSA British Rally Championship, and 22 year-old series leader Keith Cronin will follow Higgins away from the TT Grandstand with Greg Shinnors alongside in a Mitsubishi Evo 9 that has already scooped victories on the North Wales and Pirelli international events.

While Higgins warms up for the event by tackling a week-long charity bike ride the length of Wales, Cronin just last weekend scored a crushing victory on the Ravens Rock Rally, beating most of Ireland’s leading national WRC drivers in his group N car.

It has all the ingredients for a great battle, though in truth there are several other ‘young guns’ who could well be in the fray. Northern Ireland’s Alistair Fisher and Jonathan Greer (both in Evo 9’s), Bristol’s Adam Gould (Pirelli TEG Sport Subaru), Dumfries’ David Bogie (JRM-Lico Evo X) and fellow Scot’s Euan Thorburn (Revolution Wheels Subaru) and Dave Weston Jnr (Subaru) will all be hopeful of improving their title challenge.

The event is also a round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, and five of the top seven group N drivers will be in action, headed by Ballymena’s Alan Carmichael (Evo 9).

Throw in the usual strong local challenge, headed by the Mitsubishi’s of Steven Quine (Douglas) and Nigel Cannell (Santon), and the close competition of the Citroen C2R2 Cup, Suzuki Swift Sport Cup and Fiesta Sporting Trophy crews, and the action should be fast and furious.

In total 135 rally crews are set to tackle the islands famous closed roads stages on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th July, spread across the International, Historic, Challenge and Trophy events, offering something for everyone.

Island gears up for Rally fever

Posted: July 6, 2009 11:30 AM

The Isle of Man, the ‘road racing capital of the world’, is readying itself for one of its biggest events, with Rally Isle of Man taking centre stage later this week.

The event features as a round of no fewer than eight British and Irish Championships and as a result 135 rally teams from around the world are set to descend on the island for one of the most prestigious rallies in the British Isles.

Transport operators are already reporting themselves to be very busy and last year the event left hotel accommodation at a premium.

’Rally week’ formally gets underway on Wednesday evening, with the always popular pre-event BBQ taking place at the TT Grandstand, the hub for the event organisation and the service park throughout.

The BBQ smoke will begin to rise at 6.30pm. The public can attend by purchasing a ticket at the Rally Office in the Conference Centre, but even better, it is free to all competitors and officials…
…and since Wednesday night is the principle signing-on evening for marshals, why not give it a go. The star drivers will also be at the Grandstand signing in for the event, so you never know who you may pop into!

If you can’t make Wednesday but would like to marshal, then you can pop in to the Rally Office throughout the week, or call Chief Marshal John Gill on 07624 451321. Even a few hours spared would be a huge help.

On Thursday it’s the first chance to see the cars, with pre-event scrutineering taking place throughout the day. Once again spectators are welcome.

That evening the teams take to the roads for the first time with the shakedown stage at Baldromma near Baldrine, a final chance for crews to settle themselves in. Roads are closed from 6.15pm till not later than 9.30pm, but spectator access is limited. Please park carefully if attending.

The event then roars into life from the TT Grandstand at 10am sharp on Friday morning, with local hero Mark Higgins leading the field into action.

Always a huge challenge, the near 12-hour day is one of the longest in British rallying, taking in 100 stage miles across the island over 12 tests on closed public roads. They include the mammoth 21.38-mile Newtown test (SS4), one of the longest anywhere in the British Isles, and the traditional night-time double header through the streets of Castletown (SS10/11), ancient capital of Man.

Saturday is no easy run to the champagne either. A further eight tests complete the event, covering another 80 miles. As well as another run at Newtown (SS17), the Classic stage (SS20) brings crews to quite literally a Grandstand finish, covering the final miles of the TT course in full competition. Whoever sprays the champagne will certainly have earnt it!

Why not come along and see all the action unfold? The Grandstand is completely free to spectators throughout the event!

Rally programmes are on sale now at outlets across the island, packed with features and all the information you’ll need to follow the event.

BRC - The home of close competition

Posted: June 7, 2009 5:56 PM

The 51st year of the MSA British Rally Championship is shaping up to be a real hum-dinger with a fierce and ultra close battle for the top spot.

Just two points split new-boy leader Keith Cronin and triple Champion Mark Higgins, which seems pretty close, as the season heads into its second half. As July’s Rally Isle of Man entry deadline looms, the Championship would be even closer if the passage of time is to be believed.

After three events, 32 stages, 305 stage miles and 4¾ hours of flat out, high intensity, multi-surface rallying, the total time taken by Cronin and Higgins could be closer, but not much closer.

Cronin may lead the Championship, but it is Higgins with the most slender time advantage of four tenths of a second, astonishing when the different cars, styles, experience, problems and teams are considered.

For the pedants amongst us, and to save having to do the calculations, Higgins’ total time is 4 hrs 42 mins 28.0 secs and you shouldn't need a calculator to work out Cronin’s of 4 hrs 42 mins 28.4 secs.

The battle for third has been pretty tough too; Alastair Fisher, Jonny Greer, Adam Gould, David Bogie and Dave Weston jnr regularly split by less than a minute at the end of events.

What better reason to make the trip to the Isle of Man for the next round of the MSA British Rally Championship on 10th & 11th of July?

List of entries received:

Posted: June 3, 2009 2:14 PM

Regulations / On line Entry / Details

Posted: January 1, 2009 12:01 AM

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