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Isle of Man International Rally - 9-10 Jul 10

Posted: July 14, 2010 3:05 PM - 16135 Hits

Round 4 - 2010 British Rally Championship
Round 5 - 2010 MSA British Historic Rally Championship
Round 4 - 2010 UK Evolution Challenge
Round 5 - 2010 Fiesta SportTrophy UK


Barry McNulty (Co-Driver) & Keith Cronin (Driver)
Photo: Jakob Ebrey

Cunningham Takes Championship Title!

Posted: July 14, 2010 3:05 PM



Last weekend saw Jonathan Cunningham (26) of Workington take the overall championship title of the M-Sport Ford Fiesta Sporting Challenge series. The crew were taking part in the Isle of Man International Rally and with the event split into two separate events over two days the young talent originally from Galway, Ireland only needed to finish one of the day’s action to take overall victory, which he duly completed and was crowned FSC champion at the Isle of Man TT Grandstand early on Saturday afternoon.
Navigator Richard Millener (26) also from Workington climbed back up the co-drivers leader board to the top spot but after missing the previous round of the series and with a drop score still to take into consideration he will not know if he has won the co-drivers title until after the next round in Ulster in August.

The event saw two days of tough competition and with the weather on the island the worst the event has seen for the last few years, heavy rain and fog interspersed with dry clear conditions it would make the event even more difficult than usual! The day one event saw Cunningham and Millener make a solid start despite the wrong tyre choice on the first loop of stages, arriving into service in 5th overall and 1st Fiesta. After service the pairing were the only crew to go out on the correct wet tyres as everyone else chose a slick tyre and with heavy rain on the stages the young duo would take their first stage win of the event and with it move up to 4th overall. Stage 6 of the event however would see disaster strike, exiting a hairpin the Fiesta ST would break both driveshaft’s without warning instantly ending the day for a gutted Cunningham and Millener.

Back at service the car was repaired in only a few hours and the crew were more than aware that the pressure was now really on for the second day event. They knew all they had to do was finish and to add a further hurdle it was the last event they could score points on as the championship forces crews to nominate either the Isle of Man event or the Ulster event in Ireland in August as a points scoring round. With the Workington crew choosing the Manx, the second day event had to be completed or their title bid would be over. With this in mind the tension in the car between the usually laid back crew was unusually high as there was so much at stake. With the second event consisting of 8 stages including a bumpy and fast 17 mile test it would not be an easy day. The crew though took the day incredibly steady and managed to guide their trusty Fiesta ST to the finish to take glory in the series as well as still showing they could be quick by setting another fastest overall time during the event.

Back at the finish at the TT Grandstand both crew members and all of their service crew were ecstatic at the result. An incredibly tough season has seen the crew take three outright victories and now championship glory in only their first full year competing together, an incredible achievement.

The championship victory sees the pair win the top prize of competing on the Trackrod International Rally Yorkshire in September in a fully paid M-Sport run Ford Fiesta R2. The R2 Fiesta is a huge step up in performance compared to the usual ST the crew are used to. The 160hp R2 Fiesta is based on the new shape Fiesta model and boasts a 5 speed sequential gearbox and fully adjustable Reiger Suspension as used by the Focus World Rally Cars. The crew are really looking forward to the chance to now compare their times to crews competing in the British Rally Championship in September.

The Manx event also sees Cunningham and Millener move up the standings in the BRC Challenge series, with Cunningham 3rd overall and leading the Class RC3 standings whilst Millener is 5th overall in the co-driver standings and 1st Co-Driver in Class RC3.

Despite the end of the Fiesta series the pairing still have a busy year ahead of them intending to compete on some more Irish events to try and wrap up the Irish Junior Championship. Hopefully the pairings successes will continue as the year progresses.

Driver Jonathan Cunningham said:
“I am absolutely over the moon to win the championship at my first attempt. I have always wanted to compete in a single make competitive series and the M-Sport run championship is exactly that. It offers a level playing field and to know my driving has won me the series is even more pleasing. I am so excited about the prize on offer to me and can’t wait to drive the R2. All in all an absolutely amazing weekend!”

Navigator Richard Millener said:
“I am really happy for Jonny and the win, hopefully I will win the navigators section of the series too but I will have to wait until August and see what happens in Ulster with the other crews before I know. The Manx though was a tough event especially with the disappointment of the first day. The second day we took so steady, I don’t think I have ever been so slow on an event before! We drove sensibly though and did what was needed to secure the championship, I can’t wait to take up the prize drive!”

Barrable’s Citroen Manx hat-trick

Posted: July 14, 2010 1:39 PM

Robbie Barrable and Damien Connolly took twelve fastest stage times on their way to victory on the Isle of Man International Rally this weekend, round four of the Citroën racing Trophy UK.

Also the second of three asphalt events in the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, the notoriously tricky island roads were made considerably more challenging by a mix of fog and rain over the two day event.

Championship rival Mark Donnelly set the initial pace as the six Citroëns blasted off from the famous Douglas TT grandstand pit lane for a short run the wrong way up the bike racing course.

He and new co-driver Aidan Friel were the class of the field on stage three too, the second test cancelled following an accident at the front of the rally. But at the event’s first service halt the gap to Barrable was just less than five seconds, insignificant in the changeable weather conditions.

The next loop of stages took the crews to a well deserved overnight halt, but since the final test of the day was again cancelled due to a crash further up the field, the epic battle that was building at the head of the Citroëns was curtailed. Donnelly went to bed second by the narrowest of margins after Barrable’s excellent times eased him a tenth of a second ahead.

Meanwhile the rest of the Citroën field had their own battles to contend with, Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor the best of the rest thirty seconds back. They had set a target of getting to the finish after a hat-trick of retirements, but it was going to be another testing event after a freak electrical short caused a wiring loom fire. The crew managed to smother the flames with a jacket, but it left them with no dash display and nervous about using any peripheral electrics. Not good as the rain came down towards the end of the day.

Mark Gamble’s return to the championship was a muted affair, suffering a puncture and misfire on the first day. With these problems and cancelled stages, the new partnership with experienced co-driver Paula Swinscoe suffered, the crew unable to settle properly together with continual distractions.

Molly Taylor also had a new co-driver for the event, triple Australian champion co-driver Coral Taylor, or mum, as Molly calls her. Having eventually persuaded mum to join her in the UK, the new pairing made a solid start, Molly managing to put her spectacular exit from last year’s event out of her mind completely.

Bringing up the rear were Joe McGonigle and Niall Burns, lucky to be in the event at all after the clutch let go on Thursday’s shakedown stage. The team did a great job of changing it, but coupled with overshoots, it was taking time for the Irishman to get comfortable.

Rain had been forecast for day two and tyre choice was almost impossible for the six crews, but making the most of it in the morning were Barrable and Connolly. They pushed hard and also found the set-up changes worked well, four fastest stage times in a row their reward.

The first loop of stages didn’t go so well for Donnelly and Friel, intercom problems on three stages forcing them to revert to hand signals. The resultant time loss, coupled with a clean run from Barrable, left the young Northern Irish driver twenty four seconds adrift, intermittent rain not helping.

Both Taylor and McGonigle found their feet on the second day, family harmony in the Taylor car putting them third quickest on a handful of stages, while the Irishman was the only driver outside the top two to post a fastest stage time on the first run through Castletown.

The dubious honour of the event’s first Citroën retirement went to Gamble and Swinscoe. They had suffered a gearbox mount failure earlier on, collecting time penalties that eventually caused their exit from the rally after the Glascoe stage.

Gamble’s problems had promoted Sykes to third in spite of aquaplaning and hitting a wall backwards, but an improving McGonigle had him in his sights. Top spot through Castletown and another handful of second fastest times from the amiable Irishman helped him overhaul Taylor and reel in the West Midlands’ veteran, closing to within two seconds by stage fifteen.

The atrocious weather on Saturday afternoon left roads flooded and visibility poor and McGonigle became a victim of the challenging conditions, hitting a wall on stage sixteen at high speed. Both driver and co-driver were unhurt, but the damage was too great, leaving them unwilling spectators.

As the rally drew to a close Barrable eased away at the front, Donnelly managing to claw back less than a second with a fastest time on the penultimate stage. Sykes looked comfortable in third, but a cruel twist dropped him to within seven seconds of Taylor when they stopped at the scene of an accident, only to have the car regain the road.

With more than 45 seconds lost, they had to push hard to fend off Taylor, but an uncharacteristic late call by Sykes’ co-driver Simon Taylor caused them to leap a bank at speed, landing in a field. Although they eventually found spectators to help them regain the road, they arrived at the next control out of time. Sykes was philosophical about the incident, admitting it was a rare mistake and that they were still speaking.

The late retirement left mother and daughter crew Molly and Coral Taylor to cruise to third with Donnelly/Friel maintaining second, but taking their third straight win in the Citroën racing Trophy UK were Irish pair Robbie Barrable and Damien Connolly.

The victory extends their lead in the championship to seven points over Donnelly ahead of the next round, International Rally NI, part of the famous Ulster Rally which takes place on Friday and Saturday 20/21st August.

Isle of Man International Rally Citroën Racing Trophy results
Pos Driver/Co-driver Nat Time Prize
1 Robert BARRABLE/Damien CONNOLLY IRL/IRL 2:30:20.9 €2,500
2 Mark DONNELLY/Aidan FRIEL GBR/IRL 2:31:41.0 €2,000
3 Molly TAYLOR/Coral TAYLOR AUS/AUS 2:37:16.5 €1,000
DNF Richard SYKES/Simon TAYLOR GBR/GBR DNF
DNF Joe McGONIGLE/Niall BURNS IRL/IRL DNF
DNF Mark GAMBLE/Paula SWINSCOE GBR/GBR DNF

Cunningham Claims Challenge title on the Isle of Man

Posted: July 13, 2010 2:50 PM

The 2010 Kick Energy Fiesta SportChallenge (FSC) Championship was wrapped up at the weekend with Galwayman Jonathan Cunningham winning the championship after taking the FSC victory on the Isle of Man Challenge Rally.

With each day of the event counting as a separate event and as the only FSC driver scoring points on the event, Cunningham, 26 from Galway, only had finish one of the two events to take maximum points and secure the championship victory. Despite his best efforts and driving well within himself Cunningham had to wait until the second day before claiming the title, a pair of broken driveshafts forcing him and co-driver Richard Millener out of the first event on SS6, Ballanank. The stage also knocked out FSC regulars Alex Laffey, 20 from Market Harborough, and Peter Martin after they went off the road and crashed heavily. Although not scoring points the pair had come to the event to improve their pace on Tarmac ahead of the Ulster Challenge Rally. The damage sustained was too severe to be safely repaired and the crew opted to sit out the second day and get the car properly sorted for the Ulster event.

Cunningham and his crew repaired the car ready for the start of the second day, but even this proved to be against them, the right hand shaft breaking well inside the gearbox meaning the gearbox had to be removed to allow the offending part to be extracted.

With a fresh pair of driveshaft's fitted and strict orders not to push too hard from co-driver Millener, Cunningham set off for the second of the two events. Despite not pushing Cunningham managed to claim an overall stage win, on the second stage, and brought his Fiesta ST home third overall ahead of some faster machinery in the BRC Challenge.

The victory puts Cunningham out of reach of nearest challenger John Pritchard, who will score points on the Ulster Challenge Rally. As well as the FSC championship win, Cunningham also claimed his £500 prize money for winning the FSC round of the Isle of Man Challenge Rally.

2010 Kick Energy Fiesta SportChallenge Champion - Jonathan Cunningham said:
"It's great to wrap up the title so early in the year. After yesterday's drama it looked as though everything was going against us, but we have managed to turn it round and get the result we needed. I can't wait to get my hands on the Fiesta R2 now and hopefully trade some stage times with Evans and MacCrone."

Isle of Man Challenge Rall Final Standings FSC:
Pos Driver/Co-Driver Time Behind First
1 J Cunningham/R Millener 1:15:29.4 -
DNF A Laffey/P Martin - -

Evans gets one hand on the FST UK title on the Isle of Man

Posted: July 13, 2010 2:43 PM

2010 Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy UK (FST UK) Championship leader Elfyn Evans got one step closer to claiming his third FST title last weekend, on the Isle of Man International Rally. Evans took his fifth consecutive win of the season around the treacherous island lanes, which also marked the debut victory for the Fiesta R2 in the FST UK championship. With two rounds still remaining Evans only needs to score two points to put the championship crown out of reach of nearest challenger John Boyd.

With thick fog and damp roads greeting the crews as they arrived at the famous TT Grandstand for the start of the event tyre choice would prove critical over the drying roads with each of the three FST UK crews opting for a different tyre choice. The event started with a three quarter of a mile sprint starting from the Grandstand. Evans, 21 from Machynlleth and co-driver Andrew Edwards took little time adapting to their new Fiesta R2 setting the fastest time on stage one. 0.8 seconds behind Evans was John MacCrone 21, from the Isle of Mull. MacCrone and co-driver Stuart Louden were making their debut on the Isle of Man but after an impressive outing on the Jim Clark, the pair were confident they could challenge Evans for the win. With regular co-driver Andy Richardson only just been released from hospital following their crash on the previous round, 18 year old Peter Taylor from Carlisle had Paul Hughes calling the notes on the Isle of Man. Taylor's service crew had had a race against time to rebuild the car due to the substantial damage sustained in the crash, their efforts were rewarded however with the Muc-Off Motorsport Cleaning - best presented car award.

With SS2, Dog Mills, cancelled, Evans increased his advantage over MacCrone on SS3, Druidale. Evans completed the five mile stage six seconds quicker than his Scottish rival to hold a slender seven-second lead at first service with Peter Taylor third. At first service Evans was happy with the new car but still felt there was more to come as he fine-tuned the cars set up to suit his style of driving. MacCrone had enjoyed the opening loop of stages but was left to rue an over cautious tyre choice. Taylor was happy with his performance over the opening loop of stages, opting for a cautious approach on the event rather pushing too hard.

The changes made to the set up of his Fiesta R2 obviously had the desired effect as Evans further increased his lead over SS4 and SS5, Slieau Whallian 1 and Corlea 1. Evans posted a time of six minutes 26 seconds on SS4, eight seconds quicker than MacCrone before going on to post a time 15 seconds ahead of the Scotsman on SS5. Taylor continued his steady start to the event and rebuild his confidence in the Fiesta R2. SS6 was also cancelled due to a crash at the head of the main field, giving all the remaining crews the stage bogey time.

At the half way point of day one, Evans led MacCrone by 33 seconds with Taylor a further minute behind. At second service Evans reported to be happy with the balance of the Fiesta R2 although felt there was still more time to come as he got to know the car better. MacCrone was happier with his tyre choice for the second loop of stages and was starting to get the hang of the demanding Manx stages which are not dissimilar to his local Tour of Mull event. Taylor was more than happy with freshly rebuilt R2, reporting the car to be better than ever and felt he was driving well within himself.

On SS7 and SS8, Staarvey and The Cronk 1, MacCrone and Stuart Loudon started to show the pace they had had on previous round. MacCrone was just eight tenths of a second behind Evans on stage seven and just under two seconds behind on stage eight. Evans was still unbeaten at the head of the field despite co-driver Andrew Edwards' advice not to push too hard and risk going off. Evans further increased his advantage on SS9, Tholt-y-Will to head into the final loop of stages with an already comfortable lead of 45 seconds over MacCrone.

The final loop of stages of day one included two runs through the town centre of Castletown. Evans was once again fastest on all four stages despite MacCrone's best efforts the young Scotsman could do nothing to match the pace of Evans and his new Fiesta R2. As well as his battle with MacCrone in the FST UK event, Evans was also locked in a tight battle at the head of the R2 class field. The top five in 'class' R2 had been trading places all day with little more than 30 seconds covering them at the end of the day, with Evans third, just a second and a half behind Matti Rantanen in second. MacCrone was pleased with his efforts at the end of day one, despite suffering from a cold. Taylor was also pleased to make it to the end of the day despite missing the centre section from the front bumper of his Fiesta R2 after pushing a bit harder than intended over one of the island's many crests.

The start of day two was every bit as bleak as day one as the crews arrived at the TT Grandstand to re-start the event. However early reports were that the morning's stages were graced with bright sunshine so, despite the low cloud and wet roads at service, all the crews headed out for the first loop of stages with slicks fitted. Evans quickly re-asserted himself at the head of the field posting the fastest time on each of the opening three stages. MacCrone, still suffering with a cold, posted the second fastest time on stages 14 and 15, The Cronk 2 and Glascoe. MacCrone would become unstuck on stage 16, Tholt-y-Will 2, however suffering two punctures and dropping one minute to leader Evans.

With a now sizeable advantage over MacCrone, Evans could afford to relax and cruise to the end of the event. Evans however was still in a close battle for overall honours in R2 and was keen to avoid getting sucked into a battle with the other R2 cars and jeopardise his chances of the FST UK victory. MacCrone was happy with pace he had shown in the opening two stages despite losing out on stage 16 with a puncture. Despite the dry conditions, Taylor had struggled with the fog on the higher parts of the stages and felt he could have pushed harder than he had done.

Evans further extended his lead on SS17, Slieau Whallian 2, to over one minute ten seconds. MacCrone broke his Isle of Man duck on SS18, Corlea 2, beating Evans by just under ten seconds to end the Welshman's run of stage victories on the event. Evans felt he had been too cautious over the stage allowing MacCrone to claw back a few seconds. MacCrone however un-did his good work on the following stage, having missed a roadside kerb in his notes, MacCrone clipped it sending the car up on two wheels before landing on the driver's side. He lost less than a minute in the accident, spectators, including one of his own sponsors, were quickly on hand to get the car back on its wheels and away again with only cosmetic damage.

With just two stages remaining Evans held a lead of over three minutes from MacCrone, with Taylor holding third a further four minutes behind MacCrone. The final two stages included a second run over Staarvey and also Baldwin Classic, which finished infront of the TT Grandstand providing the spectators a chance to get close to the action without having to venture out to the stages. Evans won the final two stages, taking his tally for the event to 20 stage wins from a possible 21, netting him his fourth Castrol Hard Charger Award of the year. Evans won the final stage by over a minute from MacCrone who chose to take a measured drive to the finish to avoid a repeat over his earlier off. Taylor finished the event a comfortable third and achieved his aim of finishing the rally without any problems.

Each of the three crews took home a share of the £1850 Kick Energy supported prize fund while Peter Taylor scooped the Muc-Off Motorsport Cleaning Best Presented Car Award and Elfyn Evans won the Castrol Hard Charger Award for most stage wins on the event.

Rally Isle of Man Final Standings FST UK:
Pos Driver/Co-Driver Time
Behind First
1 E Evans/ A Edwards 2:30:03.9 -
2 J MacCrone/S Loudon 2:34:50.9 4:47.9
3 P Taylor/P Hughes 2:44:09.2 14:05.3

BRC Video Report

Posted: July 12, 2010 7:30 PM

Historic Winners

Posted: July 12, 2010 4:58 PM


Ryan Barrett and Paul McCann

BHRC report, round five: Isle of Man Historic Rally

Posted: July 12, 2010 4:52 PM

Ryan Barrett and Paul McCann were the stars of the weekend as the Dunlop/WONAGO.com MSA British Historic Rally Championship headed to the Isle of Man for round five, the Isle of Man Historic Rally (9/10 July).
Once again, the closed roads of the island delivered a marvellous challenge as rain and thick fog made life truly demanding for the crews. Those that reached the finish in Douglas on Saturday afternoon had all climbed a mountain. While Barrett and McCann topped category three after a big battle with Darren Moon and Chris Parsons, the other categories fell to David Stokes/Guy Weaver and Jonathan Gale/James Whitaker after equally impressive performances.

Category 1
From the very start of the 20-stage rally, category one was a head-to-head between the Sunbeam Tiger of Gale/Whitaker and the Porsche 911 of Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride. Throughout Friday's stages, the advantage went back and forth as some stages favoured the Porsche and some the Tiger. "It seemed to depend which side of the island we were on," said Gale of the ever-changing conditions.
However, on day two, Gale was able take control a little more and built his lead to just over a minute at the end of a tremendous contest.
"The suspension was too soft for the first three stages," said Nutt. "We just had to keep him under pressure," he added of his rival.
Into third in the category after a fine performance came the Porsche 911 of Rikki Proffitt/Barry Green, but only after a trying day on Thursday when the gearbox was out of the car four times chasing an oil leak and a flywheel problem. The rally went remarkably well, with only a close moment with the Duck Pond at Eairy troubling Proffitt's progress.
Class B1 victory with another epic performance went to Gary and Jane Edgington and their Singer Chamois on their fifth island finish in a row with the car. An alternator drama throughout Friday caused some concerns, but the Singer kept on going at prodigious speed.
Mini Cooper crew Mervyn Johnston and Wendy Blackledge claimed class B1 after a strong run, while B4 fell to the MGB of David Mylchreest/Allan Cathers over the Volvo Amazon of John and Stephen Moxon. The brothers, rallying for the first time since the 2009 Isle of Man Rally, were on the rally for the 34th time and got quicker as the event progressed.

Category 2
Right from the start of the rally and the short stage away from the TT grandstands, Stokes and Weaver were in control of category two in their Escort Mk1. They had a remarkably straightforward rally and built their lead stage by stage with a commanding performance. Only the thick fog on Saturday troubled Stokes, but he lost little time in the tough conditions.
"Those two in the fog were not good and we didn't have a starter motor all through Saturday," said Stokes. However, fellow crews were always on hand to give them a push start into the stages. "Guy doesn't do pushing," said Stokes of his co-driver. The result means that Stokes has finished either first or second in category one for six years in a row on this tough event.
All through the rally, the chase of Stokes came from Rupert Lomax and David Alcock in their Escort Mk1, out for the first time this season. Like Stokes, Lomax was great value through the streets of Castletown on Friday evening.
"We had two spins on Friday morning and clipped the cattle grid on Tholt-Y-Will," said Lomax as he duly took a strong second to Stokes.
Retirements thinned out category two considerably, with Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson losing a certain C3 victory with a blown engine on Saturday.
Meanwhile, an off on the Corlea stage put the Porsche 911 of Peter Smith/Russ Langthorne out of the rally when heading for C4 victory and fourth in the category. On Friday, James Slaughter and Pete Johnson were unfortunate to crash out in their Escort Mk1 when a diesel spill on the road sent them into a bank.
Instead, victory in class C3 fell to brothers Michael and David Pedley, who contested the rally without a service crew in their road rally specification Escort Mk1 RS2000. They had a clear run and then drove the car back to Manchester! Next up in C3 was local crew Matthew Carter and Mark Collister in their Escort Mk1, while Manx newcomers Jeremy Wells and Pete Phillips did well to get their Escort into third on their first experience of an event of this scale.
With Peter Smith out, class C4 went to the Porsche 911 of Edmund Peel and Janet Craine, while local crew Bruce Craig and Phil Perryman used super rally rules to win C1, having retired on Friday with driveshaft and clutch failure.

Category 3
A tremendous category three entry turned in a big battle for victory and the result was in doubt until the final stage of the rally. Initially, Moon set the pace with an attacking start and was 25s clear at the end of Friday. But chasing hard was Barrett, who started steadily on only his third asphalt rally, while Guy Woodcock/John Skinner were also in contention after a giant-killing day in their Pinto-powered Escort Mk2. The wet weather and a mighty combined local knowledge played into Woodcock's hands, but it was still a hugely impressive drive.
"We hit the cattle grid in Tholt-Y-Will," reported Moon. "It was a big bang, but we got away with it." Barrett, meanwhile, was learning fast and served notice of his pace by taking 20s off everyone in the 17-miles of Ballanank on Friday afternoon.
On Saturday morning, Barrett continued his attack just as Moon struggled through the opening Orrisdale stage with a misfire. Eventually, Barrett edged ahead with four stages left to run, but it was still not over. With a major push on the penultimate stage of Staarvey, Moon pulled back 18s to leave Barrett's lead at 22s going into the 13-mile Classic stage.
But any chance of a grandstand finish at the grandstand were dashed when Moon lost his clutch early in the stage and had to ease back to make sure of finishing. Meanwhile, Barrett lost his intercom, but hand signal from McCann got them through the fog at a prodigious pace to secure a famous victory.
"I cannot believe it, because I wasn't thinking this was how it was going to be," said Barrett after the drive of his carer. "I thought I might be top five or six."
Moon, meanwhile, had driven a superb event. "It's been an absolute humdinger of an event; I loved it," said Moon, who was clear of his team mates Will Onions/Dave Williams and Woodcock/Skinner at the finish.
"Given my lack of asphalt experience, I'm just pleased to be here," said Onions who moved ahead of Woodcock during Saturday. "I thought that as it was his car, I'd better let him beat me," joked Woodcock, who was hindered by a slipping clutch on Saturday.
Woodcock claimed a commanding D3 victory, while into second after an excellent run came Matt and Dood Pearce on their first asphalt rally with their Escort RS2000.
"The gear knob kept coming off in my hand, which was rather interesting," said Matt.
Class D4 fell to local ace Adrian Kermode and Maurice Beckett in their Porsche 911, but they were lucky to finish after an oil pipe detached on Friday morning. They borrowed oil from a marshal to get the car back to service.
Wrapping up the top six in category three were Roger Kilty and Lynette Banks (Escort Mk2) after a strong performance despite going off backwards at the corner that claimed Slaughter and Terry Brown/Martin Jones (Escort Mk2).

Jonny Greer takes third Evo Challenge victory of the season.

Posted: July 12, 2010 2:50 PM

Jonny Greer recorded his third Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge UK victory of the season when, with stand-in co-driver Gordon Noble, he won round four - the International Rally Isle of Man. Round three winners Alastair Fisher and Rory Kennedy initially led the Mitsubishi charge, but an accident on day one brought their Rally to an abrupt end. Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton were second on what was their Evo Challenge debut.

The rally, which took place on the island’s closed roads, also hosted the fourth round of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship. Following the ceremonial start overlooking Douglas Harbour on Thursday evening, which attracted hoards of spectators, the action got underway from the TT Grandstand the next morning.

Not only fastest of the Evolution Challenge runners, Alastair Fisher/Rory Kennedy also set the quickest overall time through the opening stage. They then stamped their authority on proceedings over the next two stages by continuing to be the fastest of the Mitsubishis and, at the first service halt, were 32 seconds ahead of Greer/Noble in second.

Having swapped from a Subaru Impreza to a Mitsubishi Evo IX during the week leading up to the event, the rally marked an Evolution Challenge debut for Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton. After a cautious start, whilst they got used to their new car, they held third place by one second ahead of Daniel Sigurdarson/Asta Sigurdardottir who were returning to the island to put the misfortunes of their previous visit to rest.

Following the first service halt, the next loop of three stages saw weather conditions deteriorate, with the mist and light rain adding a further challenge for the crews. Fisher/Kennedy continued to extend their lead in SS4 and SS5, but half-way through stage six the car ran wide on the exit of right-hander as the surface changed to shiny tar, the near-side rear wheel clipping a bank and flipping their Mitsubishi over.

Both Fisher and Kennedy were unharmed, but the same could not be said for their car and consequently their rally was over. This handed the Evo Challenge lead to Greer/Noble who were now third overall and therefore focussing on their British Rally Championship position as well as their Evo Challenge placing – especially as Greer is currently leading the BRC.

Service two followed, where Thorburn admitted that, following an earlier problem with a soft brake pedal, he was lacking a bit of confidence in his new surroundings. He also had a problem starting the engine on arrival at SS6, which meant he and Beaton were late into the control and collected a 30-second penalty.

The same fate then befell Sigurdarson/Sigurdardottir when leaving the service halt, due to a queue of cars blocking access to the out control. However, the Icelander’s Manx bad luck was about to get worse, when his car’s turbo-charger lost its boost in SS8. Greer also had some worrying moments in the same stage when a damper broke, although he made it back to the third service halt of the day without loosing too much time.

Sigurdarson/Sigurdardottir’s problem was found to be a broken actuator, which was fixed at service and the Evo X was back to full power for the final four stages of the day. Or so it would have been if the former Icelandic Champion hadn’t spun on a slippery section of road in the final stage and, having crushed the exhaust pipe, found he had self-induced traction control for the eight miles that remained.

As cars returned to Douglas for the overnight halt after completing Friday’s 13 stages, the time sheets showed Greer/Noble comfortably ahead of Thorburn/Beaton by nearly two minutes, who were in turn now over a minute ahead of Sigurdarson/Sigurdardottir.

Sunday comprised eight stages and competitors were greeted by the now traditional changeable Manx weather, with rain on one side of the mountain and the roads relatively dry on the other – a scenario which made tyre choice important. With the margins between the three remaining crews unlikely to see a change unless one of them had a problem, the podium positions looked predictable – but on the Isle of Man rallies are never over until they’re over – especially when the crews were subjected to driving in monsoon conditions halfway through the day.

Proving the point, Thorburn/Beaton bent their car’s steering when they clipped a rock at the side of the road in SS14 and then over-shot a junction on SS15. However, for Sigurdarson/Sigurdardottir their problems increased, when their car suddenly cut-out for no reason in the middle of SS17. Unable to re-start, they had no choice but to retire on the spot – an unfitting end to a determined drive and a character building few days.

The dramas continued right up to the last stage - a classic 13.27-mile finale that used Druidale, Injebreck and the Baldwins, before a heading into Douglas for the flying finish right outside the TT Grandstand. With just a few miles left to go Thorburn/Beaton clouted a wall and nearly ended their first Evo experience prematurely. However, the damage was only cosmetic and, very relieved, they made it to the finish.

In the mean time, Greer/Noble were playing a tactical game and, although trying to improve on their fourth position in the overall standings, they drove a controlled final leg to ensure they scored their third Evolution Challenge victory and scored enough points in the British Rally Championship to ensure they maintained the lead.

“That was a difficult rally”, said Greer at the finish. “As we couldn’t be caught and it would be difficult to improve on our overall position, I must admit that we took it steady towards the end to make sure we made it to the finish. However, I was delighted that the car went so well, as reliability is so important in this event. I‘m therefore really pleased to have extended my Evo Challenge lead with two events to go and to still be leading the British Championship.”

The fifth round of the Evolution Challenge and the British Rally Championship is the Antrim-based Northern Ireland Rally, which takes place on 21 & 22 August.

The 2010 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge UK is supported by: Mitsubishi Motors UK, Pirelli tyres, Sunoco fuels, JRM, Cyprus Automobile Association, Fairways Mitsubishi, Speedline Corse wheels, Murray Motorsport, CL brake pads, Sparco racewear and PIAA lights - who sponsor the junior award for under 25-year old drivers. The series was supported on the Isle of Man by the Mylchreest Group.

For the first time this season the winner of the Evolution Challenge in the UK, Ireland and Sweden, will win the same prize: A supported drive in the FxPro Rally Cyprus, the final round of the IRC (Intercontinental Rally Challenge). Then, whichever of the three teams are first home on this event will be crowned European Evolution Challenge Champions. Added to this, the winning driver in the UK will be a guaranteed nomination for the Pirelli Star Driver shoot-out.

Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge UK - Round 4 Results
1 Jonny Greer (Carryduff)/Gordon Noble (Omagh) 2:24:41.5
2 Euan Thorburn (Duns)/Paul Beaton (Inverness) 2:30:18.6

Retirements
SS6 Alastair Fisher (Trillick)/Rory Kennedy (Letterkenny) Accident
SS17 Daniel Sigurdarson (Iceland)/Asta Sigurdardottir (Iceland) Electrical

Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts bring JRM Mitsubishi home second on the Isle of Man

Posted: July 12, 2010 2:47 PM

Driving the JRM Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, Gwyndaf Evans, together with co-driver Gareth Roberts, battled through the difficult conditions on this year’s International Rally Isle of Man to finish second in round four of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship. The result sees JRM continue to top the table for the British Team’s Championship and Evans consolidate his second place in the driver’s standings.

Always a challenging event, this year’s visit to the Isle of Man was no exception, with crews not only having to deal with the demanding asphalt roads which criss-cross the length and breadth of the island, but the ever-changing weather conditions. And whilst most of the UK was experiencing a heat-wave, the same could not be said for the island in the Irish Sea, with wind, rain and fog making an appearance at various stages during the rally – a scenario that made tyre choice a key feature throughout the event.

After the well-attended ceremonial start overlooking Douglas Harbour on Thursday evening, the action got underway on Friday morning from the TT Grandstand, with a loop of three stages before the first service halt of the day. After a trouble-free run, Evans reported he was happy with the car – a factor that was endorsed by a healthy 16-second lead.

During the next loop of three stages the weather began to change and, as the mist and rain set in over the hills, the roads became more and more slippery. Not happy with the way his car felt as he embarked on SS6, a section of shiny tar saw the grip levels reduce even more and, near the end of the stage, the car suddenly snapped sideways, spun and dropped into a ditch. After a bit of coaxing, Evans and Roberts managed to extract their Mitsubishi and get going again but, as they were facing the wrong way, lost more time trying to find space to turn round.

Back at service inspection revealed that, as well as light body damage, the rear suspension needed attention having been damaged in the impact. However, the more significant damage - caused by the un-planned excursion - was the loss of two minutes, a delay which undid the good work already done by Evans and Roberts and plummeted them to seventh place – Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty consequently inheriting the lead.

Evans then began his fight back and at the end of SS10 was up to second place, albeit now one-minute 47 seconds behind Cronin. Although managing to improve the margin by three seconds by the time they reached the overnight halt, Evans and the JRM team knew it would be tough to regain the lead during Sunday’s eight stages – but on the Isle of Man anything can happen.

With this in mind, the team told Evans to push in the hope that he would start to close the gap on Cronin and would be ready to pounce if the reigning British Rally Champion hit problems. But, with monsoon-like conditions arriving on the island during the morning, the opportunity to attack and still stay on the road was reduced – as Evans found out when he aquaplaned through a gateway and into a farmyard on SS18.

Even after setting a time 23 seconds quicker than anyone else over the final stage, a 13.27-mile run which included a combination of the classic Manx stages of Druidale, Injebreck and The Baldwins, before a heading into Douglas for the flying finish right outside the TT Grandstand, Evans still had to settle for second. However, the result consolidated his second place in the Driver’s Championship and allowed JRM to retain its leading position in the Team’s Championship – even though team-mates Daniel Sigurdarson/Asta Sigurdardottir retired in the closing stages due to an electrical problem.

The next event for the JRM team will be round five of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, the International Rally Northern Ireland, which takes place on 20 & 21 August.

Team quotes
Gwyndaf Evans
“Of course we would have liked to have won, but second is still a big result – especially when you consider the conditions. Although we were unlucky to have spun into the ditch, we were also lucky to be able to keep going. It was a great shame, as I think it would have been a good battle for first place. I must thank the JRM team for providing me with an excellent car and for fixing the rear suspension during the service halt. It kept me in the rally.”

John Barnes – Team Manager
“This has been a very positive weekend for us. Yes, of course we wanted to win, but we were fastest on 11 of the 23 stages and on the Isle of Man in the constantly changing conditions, that’s a good performance in anyone’s book. It also keeps us well in the hunt for the championship.”

James Rumsey, Team Principal
“I am pleased we were able to achieve another good result and our car was 100% reliable – especially on the Isle of Man. Second gives us another good points score and helps us towards our target of winning the British Team’s and Driver’s titles.”

Cronin/McNulty win Isle of Man International Rally

Posted: July 12, 2010 2:33 PM

After 21 extremely challenging stages and 154 stage miles, British champion Keith Cronin and co-driver Barry McNulty have taken victory on the Isle of Man International Rally by 1m38s over former British champion Gwyndaf Evans and co-driver Gareth Roberts.

Both men experience problems during the event. Evans took the lead in stage two, despite a problem at the time card collection point. The lead was up to 16s at first service, but Cronin launched an attack on SS4 and SS5 cutting Evans' advantage to just 5.5s.

Both drivers hit trouble through SS6, Cronin hitting a bank but Evans came off far worse with a high speed spin leaving him stuck in a ditch, costing him two minutes, dropping him to seventh. Within four stages however Evans was back in second place after a string of fastest times and that's where he ended the night and the event.

Jason Pritchard and Robbie Durant took third place, a major achievement for the crew who are in their first year rallying a Subaru Impreza N2010. Northern Ireland's Jonny Greer came to the island leading the BRC points tables, and leaves in exactly the same position thanks to help from experienced co-driver Gordon Noble.

Finnish driver Jarkko Nikara and co-driver Petri Nikara just managed to hold on to fifth place after backing off in the final stage, their achievements also won Nikara the prestigious Pirelli yellow jersey. In the end they beat Dave Weston Junior and Ieuan Thomas home by a mere tenth of a second. However Weston was 29th overall at one point yesterday after a puncture, so sixth place is still a great achievement.

Elfyn Evans/Andrew Edwards were the victors in the Fiesta Sport Trophy, eighth overall. Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly rounded out the top ten and took the Citroen C2R2 Cup spoils.


Gale Stokes Barrett in Historic battle...
Jonathan Gale and James Whitaker have taken the crowns in Category One in their Sunbeam Tiger, beating regular winners Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride by 1m10s in their Porsche 911. Rikki Proffitt and Barry Green finished third in their Porsche 911.

In the Category Two class, David Stokes and Guy Weaver took the spoils by 1m45s in their Ford Escort RS1600, over the similar Escort of Rupert Lomax and David Alcock. Michael and David Pedley finished third in their Ford Escort MkI.

Ryan Barrett and Paul McCann took the honours in Category Three in their Ford Escort, winning by 1m04s over Darren Moon and Chris Parsons in their Ford Escort MkII. Will Onions and David Williams took third.


Archer lands the Challenge!
The second of the day-long Isle of Man Challenge rallies has been won by Richard Archer and Ashley Trimble, who were the first of a Vauxhall Astra one-two, beating Chris Peart and Jamie Forrest home by 24.3 seconds.

Jonathon Cunningham and Richard Milliner came home third in their Ford Fiesta ST, ahead of the similar Fiesta of Louise Cooke and Stefan Davies.

Day one winner Callum Black lost drive on his MG ZR in stage 16 and failed to finish.

The Manx Challenge Rally victory has gone to Martyn Jones and Martin Burns in their Vauxhall Nova. The crew took a comprehensive victory of 6m04s over the Vauxhall Nova of Stu Bainborough and Chris Heyes.

Guy Simpkiss and Debbie Perry finished third in their Vauxhall Astra.

CRONIN /MCNULTY TAKE MANX VICTORY

Posted: July 12, 2010 2:31 PM

TEG Sport team driver and co-driver and reigning MSA British Rally Champions, Keith Cronin and Barry McNulty reignited their championship hunt with a fantastic drive to a dominant victory on this weekend's Rally Isle of Man, the fourth round of the 2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship.

Conscious of the suspension-related dramas that the team had encountered during a test on the island earlier in the year Town End Garage, Cronin and TEIN Suspension had put a lot of effort into making the Subaru Impreza N15 behave over the notoriously tricky Manx lanes, and after some fine tuning during the first loop on Friday Cronin, the current Pirelli Star Driver recipient, never looked back.

Typically unpredictable weather during the event made tyre choice critical and for a long time Cronin traded times with former British Champion Gwyndaf Evans. But when Evans slid off and dropped a lot of time Cronin was able to control the pace, ending the opening day with a 1 minute 38 second advantage which he extended to an eventual winning margin of 1 minute and 44 seconds over Evans and co-driver Gareth Roberts.

Keith Cronin was all smiles at the ceremonial finish in Douglas:
"I am very pleased to be back here. The car worked well, in such treacherous conditions you need to have confidence and we were able to push when we needed to. TEIN and TEG Sport have worked wonders to the car!"

Adam Gould and Craig Drew almost made it two TEG cars on the podium when the young paring dragged their Subaru Impreza N11 up to second overall on Friday afternoon before an altercation with a telegraph pole damaged the radiator and ended their rally.

"Yes I am disappointed to be having an early shower, but once we had the car working for us I was so comfortable in her, winning the notoriously tricky Staarvey Stage was definitely a highlight! I have to say a massive thanks to TEG Sport for all their help and can't wait for Ulster!" said Gould.

Alan Cookson and Julian Wilkinson are rapidly attracting a fan club in their very distinctive Friesian-liveried Subaru Impreza N15. The TEG Sport prepared and Wiseman Dairies, Spar, Kick Energy and Speedline Wheels-sponsored Subaru Impreza N15 unfortunately crashed out on an extremely tricky second stage, ending up on its roof. Both Cookson and Wilkinson were unhurt but 'Moorial' will require a visit to the vet to restore her to full health!

TEG Sport Team Principal Stuart Newby was understandably happy with the result:
"One small step for TEG Sport, one GIANT leap for TEIN! After the Manx National we went away and scratched our heads a lot. TEIN have been fantastic and we are over the moon with how the car worked this weekend! To see the smile on Keith's face at the end of the first loop was a big relief! Adam once again proved that he is one of Britain's top young drivers and we will do all we can to help him make it to Ulster and Yorkshire!

The team will head across the Irish sea for the fifth round of the championship, the Rally Northern Ireland, which takes place on 20/21 August.

Photos

Posted: July 12, 2010 2:19 PM

Results

Posted: July 12, 2010 2:16 PM

1 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15) 2:19:00.3
2 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10) 2:20:38.4
3 Jason Pritchard/Robbie Durant (Subaru Impreza N16) 2:23:51.7
4 Jonathan Greer/Gordon Noble (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 2:24:41.5
5 Jarkko Nikara/Petri Nikara (Renault Twingo R2) 2:29:36.7
6 Dave Weston Jnr/Ieuan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N16) 2:29:36.8
7 Matti Rantanen/Mikko Lukka (Renault Twingo R2) 2:29:59.8
8 Elfyn Evans/Andrew Edwards (Ford Fiesta R2) 2:30:03.9
9 Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 2:30:18.6
10 Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly (Citroen C2 R2 Max) 2:30:20.9

Leaders After:
SS1 Alister Fisher/Rory Kennedy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
SS2-5 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
SS6-22 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)

Stage Winners:
SS1 Alister Fisher/Rory Kennedy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
SS2 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
SS3 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
SS4 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)
SS5 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)
SS6 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)
SS7 Adam Gould/Craig Drew (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS8 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
SS9 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
SS10 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
SS11 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
SS12 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
SS13 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)
SS14 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)
SS15 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
SS16 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
SS17 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
SS18 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)
SS19 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)
SS20 Jonathan Greer/Gordon Noble (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
SS21 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)

Evans to make R2 debut on the Isle of Man

Posted: July 9, 2010 11:08 AM

The 2010 Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy UK (FST UK) and Fiesta SportChallenge (FSC) championships venture half way across the Irish Sea next week to the Isle of Man for the fifth round of the season, The Isle of Man International Rally. The second of three all-Tarmac events is based at the TT Grandstand, Douglas, home of the legendary Isle of Man TT Motorcycle races.

FST UK competitors will battle it out over the full two-day event which features 21 stages and 153 stage miles around the island. The FSC competitors will compete on the Isle of Man Challenge Rally and will have the chance to score double points, with each day counting as a separate event. Day 1 sees the Challenge competitors competing over nine of the twelve stages used in the International event, totalling 67 stage miles; while on Day 2 they will compete over the same nine stages, a further 67 competitive miles as used by the International competitors.

Elfyn Evans 21, from Machynlleth heads to the event brimming with confidence having won all four events of the FSTUK championship so far in 2010. He and co-driver and Andrew Edwards hold a 29-point lead going into the event and with nearest rivals John Boyd and Craig Wallace opting to skip the event, they are perfectly placed to further extend that advantage. Evans makes his debut in the Fiesta R2 on the Isle of Man International Rally and will be out to show his pace in the new car after proving the class of the field in his trusty Fiesta ST.

Rally Team Scotland driver John MacCrone, 20, from the Isle of Mull won the Castrol Hard Charger Award for the most stage wins times on the Jim Clark Rally and will be hoping to carry that momentum over to the Isle of Man. MacCrone and co-driver Stuart Loudon had the measure of their competition on the Tarmac Scottish Borders Stages and would no doubt have been in the running for the win had he not been forced out early on.

Following his massive crash on the Jim Clark Rally, 18–year-old Peter Taylor from Carlisle is back in action in his rebuilt Fiesta R2. With regular co-driver Andy Richardson recovering well in hospital, Taylor has called upon Paul Hughes to co-drive for his return to action. Taylor will be looking to rebuild his confidence in the car in preparation for the final two rounds of the year.

Two FSC crews will cross the start ramp at the start of the Isle of Man Challenge Rally, with the remainder nominating the Ulster Challenge Rally as their points scoring round. Championship leader Jonny Cunningham, 26, from Workington is the only points scoring FSC entry on the Isle of Man Challenge Rally. Having only been beaten once in 2010, Cunningham knows that he only needs to finish both events to claim the championship victory. Cunningham’s co-driver Richard Millener will also be hoping for a double victory to regain his lead in the co-drivers’ standings having been forced to skip the previous round.

20-year-old Alex Laffey from Market Harborough also makes the trip across the Irish Sea although he has nominated the Ulster Challenge Rally to score points. Laffey and co-driver Peter Martin will use the two-day event to gain experience for the Ulster Rally and challenge for third place in the championship standings.

The championship competitors are also eligible to score points in the Dulux Trade British Rally Championship or the BRC Challenge and finishers will receive a share of the £2700 prize fund. The Muc-Off Motorsport Best Presented Car Award and the Castrol Hard Charger Award will once again also be up for grabs.

Rally Isle of Man drivers go back to school!

Posted: July 9, 2010 11:05 AM

Rally Isle of Man driver Alan Cookson and his co-driver Julian Wilkinson went back to school today to discuss the importance of road safety with the children of Manor Park School.

Alan and Julian spent time showing the children and Head Teacher Sue Moule around their Wiseman Dairies cow-liveried Subaru Impreza N15, and gave all the children flying cow toys.

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.

The team talked to the children about how they got started in the sport. The children enjoyed a question and answer session, the chance to sit in the car, and an opportunity to collect autographs.

Later in the day Alan took Ruth for a high speed run through the rally shakedown stage through Baldromma near Onchan.

Alan and Julian are also sponsored by Spar. The duo is seeded at number 15 on the Isle of Man International Rally.

Championship in Sight for Cunningham!

Posted: July 7, 2010 2:58 PM

This weekend will see the Workington based rally crew of Jonathan Cunningham (26) and Richard Millener (26) head to the middle of the Irish Sea and the picturesque Isle of Man where they will compete on the International Rally Isle of Man. The event is the fifth round of the Fiesta Sport Challenge series which is run by M-Sport Ltd, the team behind the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team and the employer of both Cunningham and Millener. The two day event counts for two rounds of the championship and if Cunningham and Millener can finish both days of the event it will mean they have done enough to wrap up the Fiesta Sport Challenge Championship and claim overall victory in their first year of full competition together.

The island is renowned for its tricky fast flowing roads with the stages held on closed public roads and some sections of the infamous Manx TT motorcycle track. Cunningham left for the Isle on Tuesday afternoon to complete the pre event reconnaissance of the stages prior to the event. his brother Patrick stepped in to help with this important task as Millener was forced to stay in the UK until Thursday due to work commitments but he will make the trip across the water on an early ferry to ensure that he arrives in time to start the event on Friday morning.

The event also counts as the fourth round of the British Rally Championship Challenge series, where Cunningham and Millener are battling it out for a second championship victory in one year. Currently lying third overall Cunningham will be hoping to score good points on both days to help him maintain his position in the series. Millener lies in 7th in the navigator standings due to having to miss the previous round as he was required to work at the World Rally Championship Portugal event. Millener needs some solid results from the weekend to help climb back up the leader board. With competitors in this series having to nominate either the Manx or the Ulster Rally to score points not all championship contenders will be present this weekend so it is even more important to finish well.

The pairing know that driving to a finish is always a tough challenge especially due to the importance of finishing this event but both parties are confident they can do what is needed and spray the champagne on Saturday to claim not only the Fiesta Sport Challenge win but also the championship title.

Driver Jonathan Cunningham said:
“I am really looking forward to competing on the Isle of Man, the event is stooped in Motorsport heritage and the rally is one of the most famous in the Championship. It is a tough event and knowing that I only have to finish both days to win the championship adds even more pressure. I will do my best and hopefully that will be enough!”

Navigator Richard Millener said:
“I have competed on this event before and know how tricky it can be, it’s a shame I cannot attend the recce but Patrick will do a great job in my place. I’m really looking forward to competing after a long spell off and I really hope we do well and seal the championship but you can never tell what will happen when the flag drops!”

Rally Isle of Man set to be a thriller

Posted: July 7, 2010 2:36 PM

Rally Isle of Man gets underway tomorrow evening (Thursday), with an intense battle in store for the leading crews over the island’s famed closed roads stages on Friday and Saturday, and a rally full of spectator appeal throughout.

The withdrawal earlier this week of Mark Higgins throws the event wide open. The only thing that’s guaranteed is that we’ll be putting a new name on the prestigious ‘Manx’ trophy, as there are no previous winning drivers on the entry list.

That said, five of last years top six finishers are on the list, and all but one of the top 15 drivers in the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship standings will take the start in Douglas, so there’s no shortage of quality.

So who are the most likely candidates to be spraying the champagne come Saturday tea-time?

Reigning British champion Keith Cronin (Cork) fought a great battle with Higgins last year, and began the defence of his title with victory on the Bulldog Rally in Wales. A non-finish and third place on subsequent rounds however leave the Pirelli TEG Sport Subaru N14 driver to lead the field in action with Barry McNulty, trying to put his campaign back on track.

Right behind will be Welsh legend Gwyndaf Evans and countyman Gareth Roberts for the JR Motorsport Mitsubishi team. Evans has won the last two rounds, the Pirelli and Jim Clark Rallies, to sit second in the table, enough to convince the team to commit to the rest of the series. He also put in a stunning display here last year in the Historic Rally and has led on the Isle of Man many times, and taken maximum BRC points before. Can this finally be his year?

Young Ulsterman Alastair Fisher (Revolution Wheels Mitsubishi) is followed by the history of his late Uncle Bertie almost everywhere he goes, but never more so than on Rally Isle of Man. Last years third place with Rory Kennedy (a winner in 2008 with Higgins) was an emotionally-charged result, and it would lift the roof if the names Fisher and Kennedy could claim success. A relatively disappointing BRC season so far has dovetailed with a superb run on the Irish Tarmac Championship, which they lead, so they will not be short of confidence on the black stuff!

Up against these three drivers, Belfast’s Jonny Greer (Mitsubishi) is almost a surprise leader in the standings. Consistent finishes, picking up the points, however makes him a genuine title contender. He’s likely to play a similar waiting game this weekend, and it could pay dividends even more so on such a long and testing event as Rally Isle of Man. Having the experienced Gordon Noble on the notes will also be a big bonus.

Young Scots Dave Weston Jnr (Ramsport Subaru) and Euan Thorburn will also be pushing for points, Weston in particular having a great season and boosted by having contested his first of four 2010 IRC events in Ypres just ten days ago.

The other leading Subaru’s are in the hands of Bristol’s Adam Gould (who pilots the very car Higgins drove to victory twelve months ago) and Jason Pritchard (Builth Wells), who sits third on the points table.

The locals too have crews to cheer on right at the sharp end, despite the lack of a Higgins challenge. Steve Quine finished a superb fourth overall last year, and along with Richard Skinner was beaten only by Paul Bird’s Focus WRC on May’s Manx National Rally. Some late engine work carried out earlier this week has hopefully primed the Evo 6 for a major attack.

Nigel and Michaela Cannell have a newer Evo 9 at their disposal and were in the top six early on last year. A recent win on the island shows that Cannell is adjusting nicely to his new stead.

Iceland’s Daniel Siguroarson (JRM Mitsubishi) heads the international visitors, with other entries from Finland, Australia and Belgium and Holland.

The Isle of Man International Rally is also a round of the Mitsubishi Evo Challenge, Citroen C2R2 Cup, Fiesta Sporting Trophy and Suzuki Swift Sport Cup, meaning highly competitive battles right throughout the field, with the current leaders of each all on the start list.

Scrutineering takes place at the TT Grandstand throughout Thursday, with the cars in action for the first time at tea-time on the Shakedown. That is followed by the all-new Launch Event in the centre of Douglas from 8pm.

The following morning at 10.30am the rally blasts into action with the opening stage starting from the TT Grandstand. In total the 11-hour day takes in 86 stage miles across the island over 13 tests on closed public roads, including the traditional night-time double header through the streets of Castletown (SS11/12), ancient capital of Man.

A further eight tests complete the event on Saturday, covering another 67 miles, with the Baldwin Classic stage (SS21) bringing crews quite literally to a Grandstand finish, covering the final miles of the TT course in full competition.

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.

Challenge Rally double-header drama in store!

Posted: July 7, 2010 2:26 PM

There’s plenty more drama likely in the double-header Isle of Man Challenge Rally too as Callum Black (MG ZR), Brett Griffin (Peugeot 106) and Jonathan Cunningham (Ford Fiesta) continue their battle for the BRC Challenge.

Don’t count out Jim Clark Rally winner Richard Archer (Vauxhall Corsa) though, who has substantial experience of the notorious Manx terrain, and local driver Kevin Vondy (Corsa), who could well set the benchmark as he tests the series with a view to further participation.

The event is also a qualifier in the Citroen C2R2 Challenge and Fiesta Sporting Challenge, which Cunningham could secure this weekend.

The Manx Challenge event caters for local crews not contesting the BRC Challenge, and includes the rapid Martyn Jones (Vauxhall Nova), who’ll start as favourite. Amongst those challenging him will be Andrew Holmes (Vauxhall Astra) and James Quirk (Vauxhall Corsa).

The Challenge crews contest the opening nine stages on Friday, and all of Saturday’s tests.

Add to all of this the visit of Patrick Snijers, legendary 1988 winner, in the Prodrive BMW M3 and a dozen Group B cars out on the stages and you have the makings of a great weekend of rallying.

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.

Home driver Corkill aims to make name on Rally Isle of Man

Posted: July 7, 2010 2:25 PM

The line-up assembled for the Isle of Man Historic Rally, which starts on Friday, a counter in the Dunlop/Wonago.com MSA British Historic Championship features plenty of familiar names, and some new challengers coming to the fore.

Former winners David Stokes (Ford Escort RS 1600) and Adrian Kermode (Porsche 911) head the pack on the entry list, but with a young pretender hunting them down!...

…21-year old Connor Corkill has shown real pace already this season, but now he and fellow local co-driver Rob Fagg have the bit between their teeth for their home event in a MkII Escort.

Ryan Barrett, Darren Moon, Rupert Lomax, Will Onions and Roger Kilty all drive crowd-pleasing Escort’s, as does Guy Woodcock who has had some great results on the main International down the years.

As ever Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride meanwhile head the true Historic (pre 1967) class in their Porsche, aiming for an incredible seventh victory on the event. If they achieve the amazing feat it would be five in a row and likely lift them to the top of the Championship chase.

The Isle of Man Historic Rally tackles 20 stages over Friday and Saturday, missing only SS13 West Baldwin on Friday night.

UK Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Preview

Posted: July 6, 2010 3:28 PM

This weekend’s International Rally Isle of Man hosts round four of the UK Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge - as well as the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship. It provides crews with what is likely to be their most demanding event of the season, the Manx lanes renowned for putting drivers, co-drivers and cars to the test.

With the commitment required to take part in this annual asphalt visit to the island, it is perhaps unsurprising that some of the Mitsubishi series regulars are choosing to sit this one out and use the rally as their one dropped score - competitors counting five of the six rounds towards their final championship points total. Therefore, the event will see the three leading Evolution Challenge drivers battling it out for honours.

First to leave the start will be round-three winners Alastair Fisher and co-driver Rory Kennedy. Being the only crew to have a tarmac victory in the series this year, they start as favourites and aim to further improve their standings in both the Evo Challenge and British Championship after DNFs in the first two rounds.

Second on the road will be current series leaders Jonny Greer who, for this rally, has enlisted the services of the highly-experienced Gordon Noble instead of his regular co-driver Dai Roberts. Following two wins and one second-place finish, Greer is in a commanding position for this year’s Mitsubishi crown, his success so far this season also seeing him at the top of the BRC points table.

Third of the Evolution Challenge crews this weekend is Icelandic brother and sister Daniel Sigurdarson and Asta Sigurdardottir. After crashing heavily on his one and only previous visit to the island in 2008, the former Iceland Rally Champion aims to finish the rally and finally lay the spectre of his Manx memories to rest.

This year’s rally features 143 miles in total and, following the ceremonial start on the North Quay in Douglas on Thursday evening, the competition gets underway on Friday with 13 stages, followed by a further eight on Saturday.

The 2010 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge UK is supported by: Mitsubishi Motors UK, Pirelli tyres, Sunoco fuels, JRM, Cyprus Automobile Association, Fairways Mitsubishi, Speedline Corse wheels, Murray Motorsport, CL brake pads, Sparco racewear and PIAA lights - who sponsor the junior award for under 25-year old drivers.

For the first time this season the winner of the Evolution Challenge in the UK, Ireland and Sweden, will win the same prize: A supported drive in the FxPro Rally Cyprus, the final round of the IRC (Intercontinental Rally Challenge). Then, whichever of the three teams are first home on this event will be crowned European Evolution Challenge Champions. Added to this, the winning driver in the UK will be a guaranteed nomination for the Pirelli Star Driver shoot-out.

Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge UK - entries
4 Alastair Fisher (Trillick)/Rory Kennedy (Letterkenny)
6 Jonny Greer (Carryduff)/Gordon Noble (Omagh)
12 Daniel Sigurdarson (Iceland)/Asta Sigurdardottir (Iceland)

JRM gets set to challenge for British Rally titles

Posted: July 6, 2010 1:55 PM

Following last week’s announcement that Gwyndaf Evans will contest the remaining three events in the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, the JRM team are now preparing for the fourth round of the series, the International Rally Isle of Man on the 9th & 10th July.

Having scored outright victories in rounds two and three, the Pirelli and Jim Clark Rallies, Evans currently lies second in the championship and is in an excellent position to mount a serious challenge for his second British title – his first claimed in 1996. Therefore, with the possibility of securing both the driver’s and team’s championships, JRM views this as a great opportunity to further increase its profile in the sport.

“After winning two out of the three rounds, we decided we would contest the rest of the season”, said Team Principal James Rumsey. “We are well-placed to take advantage of our current position in the championship and therefore will be doing all we can to win both titles.”

Following a test in Wales on Monday, Team Manager John Barnes commented: “We have done quite a lot of work to the car following its last outing in Donegal. I’m pleased to report it ran well throughout the test and, having made a few adjustments to the set-up, everything is looking positive for this weekend.”

In the absence of his regular co-driver this year Chris Patterson, Evans will be partnered on this occasion by Gareth Roberts, who has become available after Ford driver Craig Breen withdrew his entry from this weekend’s event. Roberts previously sat next to the experienced Welshman on the 2008 Rally GB.

“I’m sure it goes without saying that I am very pleased to be competing in the remaining three rounds”, said Evans. “For me, it’s great to think that I could be in with a chance of winning the British title again, but I’ve been in this sport long enough to know that it won’t be easy.”

The Rally Isle of Man in particular is one of the season’s toughest events, the high-speed and technically demanding Manx lanes having a reputation for pushing drivers, co-drivers and the cars to their limits.

One driver that understands this more than most is Daniel Sigurdarson, who crashed heavily on his one and only previous visit to the island in 2008. Co-driven on this occasion by his sister Asta Sigurdardottir, the Icelandic Rally Champion aims to lay the spectre of his Manx memories to rest and will again run under the JRM banner in order to increase the team’s chances of success in the team’s category.

This year’s rally features 143 miles in total and, following the ceremonial start on the North Quay in Douglas on Thursday evening, the competition gets underway on Friday with 13 stages, followed by a further eight on Saturday.

Mark Higgins not going....

Posted: July 5, 2010 7:51 PM

Mark Higgins will not be defending his Crown on this year's Isle of Man International Rally.

BHRC preview, round five: Isle of Man Historic Rally

Posted: July 3, 2010 2:35 PM

The 2010 Dunlop/WONAGO.com MSA British Historic Rally Championship switches to asphalt for round five, the Isle of Man Historic Rally on 9/10 July.
The challenging closed public roads of the island always make up one of the most spectacular events of the season and with extra championship points available on this round, there is everything to play for as the leading crews head for Douglas.

Category 1
Heading the category one field will be the Sunbeam Tiger of Jonathan Gale/James Whitaker, winners of the opening round in Wales in March. Consistent top finishes have put them well in contention for the overall title, but now comes the biggest challenge of the season. The Tiger crashed out on the island a year ago, and Gale knows well enough that a strong finish this weekend will really set-up his title bid.
The biggest challenge to the Tiger will come defending champions Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride in their Porsche 911 and no crew has more experience of the Manx roads than the Irish pairing. If Nutt is to retain his title, he needs to beat the Tiger this time. Joining the category one field is the Porsche 911 of Rikki Proffitt/Barry Green and the wonderful Austin Healey 3000 of Graham Goodall/Peter Gilbert.
In class B4, Isle of Man veterans John and Stephen Moxon field their Volvo Amazon to continue a run on the island that goes back more than 30 years. Against them will be the rapid MGB of David Mylchreest/Allan Cathers, while fellow local crew Tom Shimmin/Darren Leadley head class B3 in their Ford Cortina. Notable among the smaller cars is the flying Singer Chamois of Gary and Jane Edgington, which will humble some of the more powerful cars with its pace.

Category 2
Former champions David Stokes and Guy Weaver will head the category two field, for the post-historic cars, in their Ford Escort Mk1 and will be as spectacular as ever. After a troubled start to the season, they won on the Severn Valley and can win again the island, where they have traditionally been very strong. Prime rivals to Stokes will be Rupert Lomax and David Alcock, who will be just as entertaining to watch in their Escort Mk1. Having missed the first half of the season while sorting out a fresh engine, Lomax will be eager to get back into competition.
Chasing the Escorts will be the Porsche 911of Peter Smith/Russ Langthorne, which scored a famous victory in Kielder in April, while class C3 should be the domain of Andrew Siddall and Captain Thompson in their Pinto-powered Escort Mk1. Isle of Man debutants Jeremy Wells and Peter Phillips will chase Siddall in C3, but will be pleased to simply see the finish on Saturday afternoon after the toughest event of Wells' rallying career to date.

Category 3
The category three contest is very open with at least four crews firmly in contention for glory. In championship terms, Will Onions and Dave Williams have the most to gain as they enjoy their best season to date with Onions' Mk2 Escort. His friend and rival Darren Moon – partnered as usual by Chris Parsons – will be a major contender, as will local aces Connor Corkill and Rob Fagg, who are having a great season in their Escort Mk2. Local knowledge could just help them take a first major victory and there would be no more popular victor on Saturday afternoon than young Corkill.
But then there is the Porsche 911 of another local ace in the form of Adrian Kermode, partnered by Maurice Beckett. They could just be the crew to topple all the Escorts. But Kermode also has a strong D4 field to watch out for, including the Lotus Sunbeams of Adrian and Dan Seabridge and John Kirkpatrick/Martyn Quine, along with the Triumph TR7 V8 of Stephen Hall and Alan Jackson. Meanwhile, making a long overdue return to the island after more than a quarter of a century away is the Opel Ascona 400 of Theo Bengry/Les Forsbrook. More quick category three Escorts include those of Roger Kilty/Lynette Banks and David Pritchard/Emyr Hall.
In class D3, for the Pinto-powered Escort Mk2s, Mark Clifford and Graham Wild will start as favourites as Clifford tries to repeat his previous top 10 overall finish on the island. His rivals include son and father crew Matt and Dood Pearce in their Escort RS2000.

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

Belgian ace Snijers to relive Manx wonder-drive

Posted: July 3, 2010 2:23 PM

Belgian rally star Patrick Snijers will next week return to the stages on which he scored a legendary Rally Isle of Man victory in 1988…

…and he’ll do so back at the wheel of the BMW E30 M3 that took him to what is widely acknowledged as one of the great drives in British rallying history!

Snijers and co-driver Dany Colebunders contested the event as part of their challenge for the FIA European Rally Championship, and came into the event second in the standings behind Italy’s Fabrizio Tabaton for Lancia.

It was said at the time that the Manx terrain was so specialised, and the leading British and Irish crews so experienced here, that no driver could even hope to challenge on their first appearance. The Belgian duo soon dispelled that myth!

In a dominant display the pair swept all before them in the factory Prodrive machine, with a spectator pleasing sideways display of supremely committed driving. While Tabaton could only manage fourth place, they eased off on the final day to record a 21-second win over the Ford Sierra Cosworth of Jimmy McRae, what was then the closest finish in the history of the event. In truth however there was a far wider margin between the two, the BMW fastest on 25 of the 39 high-speed stages.

Patrick’s return comes courtesy of Evo magazine, who are making a feature article about the drive, and Prodrive, who are providing the genuine BMW M3.

The visit will feature the unique spectator stage at Castletown on Friday night, a stage that had been relatively newly-introduced to the event in 1988, with its now famous backdrop of the Castle, harbour side and town square run.

It’s one of the must-see features of this Rally Isle of Man – the words ‘Snijers’, ‘Prodive BMW’ and ‘Castletown’ set the pulse racing. Quite simply be there!

Roads close at 6.20pm for the always popular stage, which is a double-run for the crews of the International and Historic events. Please therefore arrive early and park sensibly.

Group B history returns to Rally Isle of Man

Posted: July 3, 2010 2:22 PM

Rally Isle of Man fans will have the chance to re-live one of the golden era’s of rallying on this years’ event, as some of the most famous cars in the sports history take to the islands unique stages one more time.

The organisers are delighted to announce that the awe-inspiring Group B cars of the 1980’s will bring their own jaw-dropping sights and sounds back to the event, with each of the 12 cars part of the folklore of rallying.

And it won’t simply be a static display; the cars will be driven on each of the 21 closed roads stages of the rally immediately before the present day stars of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship head into high speed action, a package that should be a huge draw for spectators.

Among them are an original works 1986 Peugeot 205 T16 Evo, the model that provided Finnish great Juha Kankkunen with the first of his four world crowns and swept the marque to the Manufacturers title too.

Also from 1986 comes a Rothmans Austin Rover Metro 6R4 as used at British Championship level by Jimmy McRae, and a Marlboro Nissan 240 RS from the world series.

Other vehicles include works specification Talbot Sunbeam Lotus and Ford Escort MkII’s from the famous Andrews Heat for Hire team synonymous with British rallying legend Russell Brookes, a Repsol Lancia Delta Intergrale Evo and a works Ford RS200.

It’s a stunning line-up assembled by the Rallying with Group B Club, and that list is only part of the visiting team!

Group B took rallying to a whole new level between 1982 and 1986, opening up the ease for manufacturers to join the sport. It had few restrictions on technology and design, leading to some of the quickest, most powerful and sophisticated rally cars ever built. Indeed the leading cars could out-perform Formula One cars of the time!

The genre’s biggest success on Rally Isle of Man came in 1986, when Tony Pond swept to his fourth victory with Rob Arthur in the Computervision Austin Rover Metro 6R4. Shortly afterwards the cars were banned following a series of accidents.

So make sure you find the time to catch the cars in action - as the group themselves say, once seen, never forgotten!

Rally Isle of Man comes to town

Posted: July 3, 2010 2:20 PM

Brand new for 2010, Rally Isle of Man will bring the stars of British Rallying and a whole lot more to the public as never before next Thursday evening, 8th July.

The Rally Isle of Man Launch Event will take place on North Quay in Douglas, and will bring the stars and their cars to the public, offering you the chance to get up close before they start the famous event the following morning.

A parade of cars from the famous Group B era of rallying will be on display from 8pm, a rally photographers dream in itself.

Then from 8.30pm the crews and cars of the Isle of Man International Rally will arrive, with the stars of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship.

They’ll be on hand for interviews and an autograph session, so bring your programmes along (also on sale at the event).

There’ll also be the opportunity to sign up to marshal on the event, or simply find out what’s involved.

So this is your chance to meet drivers such as Mark Higgins, the most successful in the events history, reigning British champion Keith Cronin and the Welsh legend Gwyndaf Evans, and a whole lot more besides…

…it’s the essential start to Rally Isle of Man, so don’t miss out!

Who will be BRC top dog on the Isle of Man?

Posted: July 3, 2010 2:16 PM

With just a week remaining before Rally Isle of Man, the fourth round of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, anticipation is mounting for the front runners on this, the fastest rally in the BRC calendar.

The event, which was historically the final round of the series, is now the second of three asphalt events and has seen one name dominate the top step of the podium during the last ten years.

Manxman Mark Higgins has five outright event wins and despite not fighting for the 2010 championship, he has registered to score points and will be a severe fly in the ointment for both reigning champion Keith Cronin, with co-driver Barry McNulty and the winners of the previous two events Welshman Gwyndaf Evans & Chris Patterson.

Evans is the only other driver in the field to have won the rally before, but he will have to cast his mind back to 1995 when he last won the event as part of the British Rally Championship. He does, however, have more recent experience of winning on this unique asphalt surface, blitzing the opposition on last year’s Isle of Man Historic Rally.

Taking into account his retirement on round one, the dropped score which is allowed at the end of the season, the 1996 British Rally Champion has a perfect forty points, but he certainly hasn’t had it all his own way. Irishman Cronin led the Pirelli Rally until the finish line was almost in sight, a flailing puncture tearing out the Pirelli TEG Sport Impreza’s wiring loom.

The reigning champion does have experience of leading the classic Isle of Man event, surprising many onlookers as he bettered Higgins in the early stages last year. But it was ultimately the Manxman who scored a record breaking victory and whilst unlikely to win the series, he could easily influence its outcome by taking points from the leaders.

The man leading the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship’s 52nd season and the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge at its half way point is Jonny Greer with Welsh co-driver Dai Roberts, but by the Northern Irishman’s own admission it is through consistency, his best BRC result this year a second place on the Pirelli Rally. He was on track for a podium finish in the Isle of Man in 2009, but he rolled the car into retirement on stage eight.

Young Scot Dave Weston Junior took a brilliant second on the first round in March, ably guided by Ieuan Thomas in the Ramsport Impreza, but he rolled on the Pirelli Rally and had gearbox problems last time out, hoping for better luck next weekend. The pair has plenty of recent mileage in the car, contesting Rally Ypres, a round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge last weekend.

2008 Pirelli Star Driver Adam Gould held a surprise third with new co-driver Craig Drew as they debuted their ex Mark Higgins Impreza in Wales. Now nominated to score points for Pirelli TEG Sport, the youngster’s return to the team in last year’s Manx winning car could prove a fruitful one.

Craig Breen and Gareth Roberts punctured during their fight for the lead in Cumbria. They continued with several fastest stages on asphalt, eventually succumbing to mechanical failure, their second retirement of the year. Sadly the youngster has withdrawn from next weekend’s event, damage sustained on an Irish Championship event unable to be repaired in time.

Alastair Fisher briefly led his first BRC event last time out. Another young Northern Irishman, co-driven by double British champion Rory Kennedy, has two retirements from the start of the season, but they weathered a late misfire to hang onto second ahead of Cronin. Leading the Citroën Irish Tarmac Championship and with a Manx podium last year, they are surely due a win on an event that eluded his famous Uncle Bertie.

Certainly worthy of note and currently third in the points table are the fast improving Jason Pritchard and Robbie Durant. The Welsh/English partnership is new for 2010 along with the Impreza N16 and the youngster has two Epynt event wins to his credit in the car.

JR Motorsports’ Daniel Sigurðarson and his sister Ásta don’t have good memories of rallying on the Isle of Man, crashing heavily on the 2007 national event. But they made some progress to overcome their asphalt trepidation, delighted to finish their first sealed surface event inside the top ten on the Jim Clark Rally.

Just outside the top ten but certainly capable of finishing well are Alan Cookson/Jules Wilkinson and Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton, both driving similar Subaru Imprezas. Cookson’s car, affectionately known as Muriel because of its distinctive Friesian cow livery, will be attending a Douglas school with the crew to help promote road safety and answers questions about the event on the Wednesday before the rally.

Dulux Trade MSA British Junior Rally Championship

The championship top ten is completed by Junior drivers. Eighth is leading BRC Junior crew Elfyn Evans/Andrew Edwards who also heads the Fiesta SportTrophy with four wins from four. Finnish newcomer and Rally2 leader Jarkko Nikara trails Evans by just three junior points in his Twingo and top Citroën Racing Trophy crew of Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly tie for third with fellow Citroën driver Mark Donnelly in the under 25s. Rounding off the top Juniors is another new Finnish crew of Mikko Pajunen/Janne Perälä who also lead the Swift Sport Cup.

Dulux Trade MSA British Teams Rally Championship

JR Motorsports currently lead the Teams tables ahead of Pirelli TEG Sport and Ramsport. In a change of lineup, Euan Thorburn is replaced for this event by Adam Gould, Thorburn prevented from starting his home event last month after a shakedown fault could not be diagnosed in time and Ramsport fielded just one car after Weston destroyed his on the Pirelli.

Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship Diesel & Ladies Cups

Both the Diesel and Ladies Cups can be sewn up on Rally Isle of Man with just one crew in each category. Brothers Steve and Tony Graham just need to finish to seal their second successive diesel title while the same applies to Australian Molly Taylor, this time joined in the co-driver’s seat by her multiple award winning mother Coral.

Pirelli Star Driver

The Pirelli Star Driver competition has three finalists, one from each of the events so far. They will be joined by the judges’ nomination from Rally Isle of Man and hopefully he or she will be able to take possession of the “yellow jersey”, Craig Breen awarded his place whilst on the ferry home after a galling retirement in Scotland.

Nominees:
Round 1: Elfyn Evans
Round 2: Mikko Pajunen
Round 3: Craig Breen

International Rally Isle of Man

International Rally Isle of Man is based at the TT grandstand above Douglas from where the event starts and finishes. A ceremonial start will take place on North Quay’s harbour side pedestrian area on Thursday evening from 8pm with the action starting at 10:30 on Friday morning. The final stage blasts past the TT Grandstand at around 3:45 on Saturday, the winners spraying champagne on the podium at 4pm.

COOKSON AIMS FOR MANX TOP TEN

Posted: July 3, 2010 2:14 PM

Saltash rally driver Alan Cookson and co driver Julian Wilkinson from Tunbridge Wells will be making the trip over to the Isle of Man next week to contest round four of the 2010 Dulux Trade British Rally Championship when the International Rally Isle of Man gets underway next Friday (9th July).

Fresh from their superb top ten placing on the Jim Clark Rally last time out, which heralded their tarmac debut in their TEG Sport prepared and Wiseman Dairies, Spar, Kick Energy and Speedline Wheels-sponsored Subaru Impreza N15, to go with the eighth place finish on the Pirelli International Rally which comprised round two, the pair arrive in Douglas in confident mood.

Alan said
"The car has been repaired by TEG Sport after our excursion into a stone wall on the Jim Clark Rally, returning 'Moooorial' to her best, for what we hope will be a fantastic trip over to the Isle of Man. She is now looking so good that we allowed her to go out to grass last week and have a holiday up at the Highland Games in Scotland, where she was on display in the main arena promoting main sponsors Wiseman Dairies and SPAR, we just hope she is well rested and ready for the longest and arguably the toughest event of the year!"

He continued:
"We are really looking forward to getting back out and competing around the Manx lanes, especially after finishing in tenth on the Jim Clark Rally back in May, and are hoping that we can maintain the consistency we have had on the last two rounds, as avoiding punctures and taking a measured approach has resulted in us climbing the leaderboard during the latter stages of these two events.

"The Isle of Man National Rally has been our favourite event over the last three years; despite not actually finishing on the last two events there, we have been in good positions before retiring so we know we can go well over there and stepping up to International level will suit us fine. The last time we actually managed to finish the event it was in 15th overall in an older GPN Subaru, so hopefully the return to a Group N car for this year will see us and 'Moooorial' cross the finish line in Douglas on Saturday evening."

Co driver Wilkinson added:
"We believe we can improve on our tenth place on the Jim Clark last time out as we have some knowledge of the bumpy tarmac roads on the island having competed there three times before, unlike on the Jim Clark which was very new to us so this should at least help our cause. The TEG Sport team have some good suspension set up information for the roads over there after recent tests on the Manx Telecom Rally in May, and that coupled with a new turbo and a few other bits of work the TEG Sport team has done, we hope we can put all this to good use and record a third top ten finish in a row."

The event is going to start early for 'Moooorial' as well, with a visit to a local school on the Island on Wednesday morning to promote the event to the youngsters and try to get them more involved in motorsport at an early age.

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.

Seeded Entry Lists available

Posted: July 2, 2010 5:06 PM

Entry List available on Competitors page of:

Swift Sport Cup Rally Isle of Man preview

Posted: June 30, 2010 6:33 AM

The 2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship’s Swift Sport Cup is looking like a one horse race ahead of International Rally Isle of Man, as Finnish hotshot Mikko Pajunen and co-driver Janne Perälä have dominated the series since the start of the season.

Their first year in the BRC was always going to a be a learning one, but with experience on the gravel roads of Finland the opening Bulldog Rally North Wales perfectly suited the pair, even catching Manxman David Harrison and reigning BRC Challenge co-driver John Connor on one of the longer Welsh stages.

Any chance of a fight on the Pirelli was ended when Harrison was caught out on a tricky left hander, rolling the little Suzuki down a step bank.
Although there wasn’t substantial damage, it put paid to his event and severely dented an already tight budget.
Pajunen went on to finish just outside the top ten overall, impressing the Pirelli Star Driver judges and winning him the Pirelli “yellow jersey”, his nomination to the end of season shootout for 2011 BRC funding.

Another newcomer to the Swift Sport Cup and the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship was youngster Tom Clark. He and Aggie Foster might be new to the series, but despite the youngest competitor in the BRC only turning seventeen a week before the rally, they have competed in Latvia for some time now, where drivers can compete from fourteen years old. A mature drive for one so young netted second behind Pajunen, the Fin quickly coming to terms with asphalt.

Both crews will have much to learn on the Isle of Man and although local lad Harrison will be in a different car, he will no doubt be keeping an eye on the crews in the Swift Sport Cup.

International Rally Isle of Man is based at the TT grandstand above Douglas from where the event starts and finishes. A ceremonial start will take place on North Quay’s harbour side pedestrian area on Thursday evening from 8pm with the action starting at 10:30 on Friday morning. The final stage blasts past the TT Grandstand at around 3:45 on Saturday, the winners spraying champagne on the podium at 4pm.

Higgins headlines strong entry for Rally Isle of Man

Posted: June 24, 2010 11:46 AM

Local hero Mark Higgins will after all bid for an incredible sixth Rally Isle of Man crown in early July after submitting a last minute entry for the event as the deadline loomed.

It had been feared that the driver, who last year took a record-breaking fifth win, would end a 20-year run of consecutive appearances on his home event, as he is not contesting the 2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship.

The three time BRC champion, down to drive a Subaru Impreza, is however sure to face strong opposition as every single one of the top 15 drivers in this years title hunt are also on the list!

They are headed by Welsh rally legend Gwyndaf Evans, who has taken victory for the JRM Mitsubishi squad on the last two rounds, the Pirelli and Jim Clark events, and will be desperate to finally put his name on the ‘Manx’ trophy after coming close so many times down the years.

Reigning champion Keith Cronin won much acclaim as he fought a tumultuous battle with Higgins last year, and going one better this time in his Pirelli TEG Sport Subaru would also put the Cork drivers’ title defence back on track.

Underlining the quality, all of last years top six return, with young Alistair Fisher aiming to better a brilliant third place. The Revolution Wheels Mitsubishi driver has declared a win on this event as one of his main career ambitions, with the obvious family history associated with it through his late uncle Bertie.

Add in current points leader and fellow Northern Ireland countryman Jonny Greer (Mitsubishi) and Craig Breen in the screaming state-of-the-art Ford Fiesta Super 2000, Scotland’s ‘young guns’ Dave Weston junior and Euan Thorburn along with England’s Adam Gould in Subaru’s, as well as the island’s own challenge headed by Steve Quine (a brilliant fourth last year), and Nigel Cannell (both in Mitsubishi’s), and there’s the makings of an absolute cracker…and that’s only the International event!

The top contenders for the hugely popular Historic Rally include many leading drivers from the Dunlop/Wonago.com British Championship. The spectator-friendly Ford Escort’s dominate, in the hands of Shrewsbury’s Will Onions, Omagh’s Ryan Barrett, rising local star Connor Corkill and former winner David Stokes to name but a few.

They’ll be joined by other former victors Adrian Kermode and Dessie Nutt in Porsche 911’s, and a returning Theo Bengry (Opel Ascona), who scored top six finishes on the International in the 1980’s.

The Challenge Rally category also features the main title contenders from the BRC Challenge. Entries are in from all the top three on the table; Callum Black (MG ZR), Brett Griffin (Peugeot 106) and Jonathan Cunningham (Ford Fiesta ST).

Jim Clark Challenge Rally winner Richard Archer (Vauxhall Corsa) however has a long record in the Manx lanes and will provide a stiff benchmark, as will rapid local driver Kevin Vondy (Corsa), who joins the fray for the first time. Many other local drivers are also entered for the non-Championship Challenge category.

In total just over 100 rally crews are set to tackle the islands famous closed roads stages on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th July, and the spread of quality looks set to make it an event not to be missed!

List of Entries Received

Posted: June 3, 2010 12:43 PM

Rally Isle of Man set for spectacular town centre start

Posted: May 19, 2010 11:13 AM

Competitors and fans alike won’t have to wait long for the action to start on this years’ Rally Isle of Man - the opening stage begins 50 metres into the event!

In fact the crews don’t even take to the public highway after crossing the start ramp before the countdown begins and the revs rise!

In an effort to improve still further the spectator appeal of one of the British isles major rallies, organisers have decided that it should, quite literally, fire into life! The first of the 21 high speed, closed roads special stages will therefore take place through the streets in Douglas, starting in the TT Pit Lane at the Grandstand Rally HQ.  

From the start, the crews will turn hairpin right, heading up Glencrutchey Road to Governors Bridge and then left towards the finish just before Bedstead Corner (the stage will be called ‘Governors’).

Clerk of the Course Les Postlethwaite is delighted that permission for the stage has been obtained from island authorities.
‘This will be something quite unique for the top British Championship stars. We’d like to thank both the authorities and the local residents for their co-operation’, he says.
‘We carried out a survey of the residents and have been delighted with the response. It should help give the event a real boost and add to what is already recognised by teams and competitors as one of the biggest challenges in the sport.’  

‘The teams in particular are delighted. They are normally stationed in service areas miles away from the action, but here they will be able to see their crews begin the event in earnest, and spectators will have plenty of time to take in the start before heading out to the following tests.’  

The stage and is actually a shortened version of the test used throughout the years the event was part of the European Rally Championship, with legendary names such as Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Tommi Mäkinen among the fastest drivers.

The move also means that for the first time ever spectators at the Grandstand will be able to witness both the start and finish of the rally, with the now traditional Saturday afternoon dash to the TT finish line also retained on the schedule…  

…and even more good news, access to the Grandstand is completely free on both days, so make sure you catch all the action from Britain’s fastest rally stars.  

It all gets underway on Friday 9th July from 10am.

Rally Isle of Man entries open

Posted: April 13, 2010 2:03 PM

Entries have now opened for the 47th Rally Isle of Man, which takes place from Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th July 2010.

Formerly the Manx International Rally, it once again features as a high profile round of the UK’s principal rally championships.

The Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship – Round 4

Reigning British champion Keith Cronin was narrowly denied victory on the Isle of Man International Rally last year after a stunning two-day battle with local hero Mark Higgins.

The Cork driver has already set down a marker in defence of his crown, but the islands roads will provide one of the toughest challenges of the year for all the competitors, across all the events.

In the International Rally that will include crews from the Citroën Racing Trophy, the Ford Fiesta SportTrophy, the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge and the Swift Sport Cup.

The Dunlop/Wanago MSA British Historic Rally Championship - Round 5

Gwyndaf Evans electrified the island in 2009 at the wheel of a MkII Ford Escort and the 25th year of the Isle of Man Historic Rally is once again set to be a highlight of the championship. In addition the event will welcome crews tackling the HRCR Cup and the Water End Asphalt Cup

The BRC Challenge - Rounds 4 & 5

Some of the closest competition in British rallying, incorporating the Fiesta SportChallenge and the Citroën C2R2 Challenge Cup, is set to become even tougher as local crews join the fray in numbers for the first time over the double-header Isle of Man Challenge Rally.

As in 2009 the action will this year take place over two days. In making this move the organisers have responded to the requests of competitors and officials to reduce the time required away from work and home.

However, as the old saying goes, ‘it’s an event that’s never easily won!’

The International Rally covers 153 stage miles over 21 of the islands famed closed-roads tests. The Historic Rally faces 20 of those covering 142 miles, while 17 stages covering 134 miles await the Challenge Rally crews.

Among the changes for 2010 is an extension to the reconnaissance period as a direct result of competitor feedback, with Wednesday 7th July included from the afternoon. Competitors will be allowed two passes of each stage, with four days available to choose from.

Also new is a ceremonial start on Thursday evening, 8th July.

The day will begin with scrutineering and documentation at the TT Grandstand in Douglas, which will be the Rally HQ and central service area throughout the event.

The action will then begin with the ‘shakedown’ stage, running that tea-time (5.15 – 7.30pm). It will be followed with the high-profile start in the centre of Douglas from 8pm.

The rally itself is set to depart Douglas at 10.30am on Friday at the start of a testing eleven hour day, taking in no fewer than 13 special closed public roads stages across the island.

A further eight tests follow on Saturday, and the winners should be spraying the champagne at around 4pm, having battled a 340 mile route.

Entries for all events close on Friday 18th June, so act now and join us in July - last year over 130 rally crews took up the unique challenge of Rally Isle of Man, come and be part of the buzz created by some of the fastest asphalt rallying in the world!

Regulations and entry forms are available now for download from the event website , or by contacting the rally office on +44 1624 852 440 / 01624 852 440.

In addition to the regulations, the event has also recently published the Rally Guide, which contains further information to help anyone planning to visit, and the Sponsorship Brochure with details of commercial partnering opportunities. Both are available via the website.

Event Website

Posted: January 1, 2010 12:01 AM






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