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Manx International Rally - 28-30 Jul 05

Posted: August 3, 2005 9:12 AM - 10443 Hits

Round 6 - 2005 Tarmac Championship
Round 5 - 2005 British Rally Championship

  • Jenning's Happy Hat-Trick
  • More Photos
  • Day Three: Record-breaking drive puts Higgins among the elite
  • Day 2: Higgins seeks perfection
  • Higgins survives scares to lead TOTAL Manx International Rally after Day One

GpN Winners Rory Galligan/Greg Shinnors
Photo: Roy Dempster

Posted: August 3, 2005 9:12 AM

Jenning's Happy Hat-Trick
The Total Manx International Rally was the venue for Garry Jennings third class win in a row in the Pirelli Irish Tarmac Championship. The classic event witnessed a battle for maximum points over 175 miles of closed public roads, the Fermanagh man taking the honours and tenth place overall.

It didn't all start so well though, with early concerns over a suspected faulty front strut and ineffective lights, leaving him and stand-in co-driver James McKee in 20th position at the end of the first batch of five stages. "The weather has been pretty grim," commented Jennings at the final service of the day, "and with the roads so wet and slippery, I'm actually quite pleased to be here at all." He continued, "We had a big overshoot on the last stage but luckily there was plenty of run-off and managed to rejoin without hitting anything."

Friday morning dawned equally wild and wet and after three weeks of dry weather, the Manx lanes continued to be more of a challenge than usual. Added to the treacherous conditions was a broken pedal which jammed the throttle wide open on the second Friday stage. "The pedal extension came loose, "explained a flustered Jennings, "it spun round on one bolt and wedged against the floor. We had an almighty moment at the finish of the stage but managed to fix it on the road section."

By the end of the 14 mile Round Table stage, the pair had climbed to 18th and just one stage later had climbed two further places. Aaron MacHale's engine had expired and with a time 7.4 seconds quicker than Alan Nesbitt, Jennings had eked a lead of 2.8 seconds from his nearest championship rival.

With a transmission scare and loose sump guard, Jennings managed to keep Nesbitt at bay for the next batch of stages but it got as close as it could. Back at service McKee explained, "We lost ground on those four stages and Alan got within 0.1 of a second of us. Hopefully the boys can sort the problems and we'll have a go on the final two of the day." At the end of stage 16 as the cars returned for overnight parc ferme, the gap had grown to 6.7 seconds with better weather promised for the final leg of the rally.

With 60 miles still to go, Jennings and McKee set about increasing the margin over Nesbitt. "Twelfth overall and fourth in class N4 on the event is a bonus," said Jennings, "We have to concentrate on championship points and the three guys in front of us are all British Championship regulars so they're no threat." After the first loop of three stages the gap had grown to just over fifteen seconds but it had nearly been a different and far more dramatic story. "We had a huge moment over the first crossing on the Cornaa stage, "explained Jennings, "It was one of those 100 mph things, keep it going or crash!"

The next pair of stages gave the crew the cushion they needed. Jennings remembered parts of the tricky 14 mile St Marks stage and set a ninth quickest overall time, 19 seconds quicker than Nesbitt. At the final service of the day the pair was nearly 35 seconds clear but the car had developed a clutch release bearing noise. Although it didn't affect the car's performance, both driver and co-driver were instructed to take it easy on the rally's sting in the tail.

Two stages totalling nearly twenty five miles of flat out motoring remained and the times on the first of the pair were close. Jennings needn't have worried though, as Nesbitt reported a bad final stage over a minute slower. This left Jennings and McKee to take maximum points in the Pirelli Irish Tarmac Championship N4 category and a fine tenth overall on the TOTAL Manx International Rally.

The next round of the series takes the crews home for the Ulster International Rally based in Armagh on the 2nd and 3rd of September. The summer break will give Jennings time to consider his strategy and with four wins and a second place, his twenty point lead means he can breathe a little easier. Although he can't relax too much as any of the top three in the N4 category could still theoretically lift the title.

Day Three: Record-breaking drive puts Higgins among the elite
Mark Higgins, the 1997 British Rally Champion, took a huge step towards landing a second title eight years on by scoring a dominant victory on the TOTAL Manx International Rally this afternoon.

On what is easily the longest event of the championship the Eddie Stobart Ford Focus driver re-wrote the record books by taking fastest time on all 23 stages, thought to be the first time the feat has been achieved on a Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Rally Championship round.

In addition it is a third Manx win for both Mark and co-driver Bryan Thomas, setting them among the elite such as Roger Clark, Jimmy Mcrae and Higgins’ former schoolmate Martin Rowe. To do all this in what were often horrendous weather conditions just underlined the outstanding ability that Mark possesses, especially since it became a full-on family occasion with no fewer than four generations represented at the TT Grandstand finish.

‘It wasn’t important at the beginning,’ said Mark of the record, ‘it was all about winning the rally, but as the event went on winning each stage became the target. It was a tough event, wet and slippery on Thursday and Friday, and treacherous in places, but Bryan and I found a pace we were happy with and stuck with it. It was hard to pick a pace at first, the Irish boys were all going hard at the start and in the slippery conditions it was easy to make mistakes.’ The eventual winning margin was 5 minutes 43 seconds, the fifth largest in the 42 year history of the rally, but the crew who finished as runners -up were delighted with their finish.

‘Mark’s a professional and you just can’t hold a light to him’, said Eugene Donnelly, who along with Paul Kiely took maximum Pirelli Irish Tarmac Championship points in his Toyota Corolla WRC to extend his series lead. ‘But it’s only our second visit here and the weather hasn’t suited us so I’m delighted really’.

Championship rival Derek McGarrity finished third in his Subaru Impreza with Dermot O’Gorman but admitted he now needs Eugene to have a non-finish to have any chance of the title, while Eamon Boland had his best ever Manx result in fourth in another Subaru.

Behind that was Mark Higgins team-mate Paul Bird, with Ian Windress in the sister Stobart Focus, and Paul did the job he came to do, taking points of the winners’ championship rivals, most notably Austin MacHale. Paul admitted he didn’t really enjoy the event, feeling the pressure of needing a finish and on this last day struggling with a hand injury from an incident on yesterday evenings last stage, the same place that put long-time second place man Kenny McKinstry out of the rally. The drive of the final day belonged to MacHale, surging back up the leaderboard in the 2003-spec Focus to finish sixth and salvage points in both the British and Irish series.

Rory Galligan and Greg Shinnors took a fine seventh overall, surviving a run into a bank on the penultimate test to win the Production category in the Mitsubishi Motors factory car, the crew thrilled to bits on what they term as their weakest event of the Kwik-Fit Pirelli Championship, having only visited once before.

The Total Manx International Rally saw the works Mitsubishi Motors UK crew of Rory Galligan (from Oldcastle) and co-driver, Greg Shinnors (from Limerick), score their fourth Production Class victory in this year's Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Rally Championship, a result which rockets them into the Production Category lead.

However, it was a different story for their Mitsubishi team mates, David Higgins (from Trefeglwys) and Daniel Barritt (from Burnley), who's season of bad luck continued when their car's engine expired on the 12th of the event's 23 stages.

The Championship's annual visit to the Isle of Man provided the Championship with it's second all asphalt event of the year, the 176 miles of closed road stages always providing a challenge, a feature which attracts strong competition from the UK and Ireland.

With Galligan feeling more comfortable on tarmac following his Production Category victory on the previous round, the Jim Clark Memorial Rally and Higgins familiar with the Isle of Man, having been born there, the Mitsubishi team were hoping for the one-two Class result which has eluded them so far this season.

Starting on Thursday evening the event began in the mist and rain, the conditions doing little to deter the two Mitsubishi drivers, Higgins setting fastest Group N time, just two seconds ahead of Galligan. Third in the category was local driver, Rob Watson, also in a Mitsubishi, who signalled right from the start that he was to be the works team's main contender.

Positions remained as they had started for the first four stages, Higgins just edging ahead of Galligan and then Watson, until the fifth and final stage of the day, when a ford served to damage all three of the car's radiators as they plunged through the water. Luckily, Higgins and Galligan only lost a few seconds and the team were able to rectify any problems at the service before the overnight halt.

With a car that was handling exactly to his liking, Galligan became the quicker of the two Mitsubishi drivers on Friday morning, pulling ahead of Higgins who was comfortable with his pace, just a handful of seconds behind his team mate. But then, on SS12, Saturday's seventh stage, whilst flat out on a long straight, a con-rod snapped in the engine of Higgins car.

With oil spraying all over the hot engine an under-bonnet fire was inevitable. Fortunately, Higgins brought the car to rest right in front of his service crew who had snatched a few minutes to spectate. Watson also sportingly stopped to assist by handing over a fire extinguisher, organisers seeing fit to not penalise his stage time in the circumstances.

It was then down to Galligan to uphold the Mitsubishi team's honours, which he duly did by setting the fastest Group N stage times for the day's remaining four stages. Therefore, as cars headed back to Douglas for Friday's overnight halt, Galligan led the Production Class by a margin of 62 seconds from Watson and held an overall position of sixth.

With weather conditions easing for the seven remaining stages on Saturday, Galligan felt confident with his pace and not wanting to 'break his stride' he opted to continue at similar speed. However, survival instinct began to set in as he saw the end in sight and just after the start of the penultimate stage the Irishman clipped a wall, luckily, the only damage being a small dent in the wing.

Although a little rattled Galligan kept it together for the remainder of the event and finally crossed the line first in the Production Class and in seventh place overall.

This result sees Galligan now lead the Production Category by four points and hold an impressive third overall in the British Championship. His performance also saw him presented with the 'Star of the Rally' award. In addition, Mitsubishi extends its lead in the Teams Championship to 18 points.

The sixth event in the eight round British series sees the team head to Northern Ireland for the Ulster Rally, the season's third and last all-asphalt encounter, which takes place on 2nd & 3rd September.

The two Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MRs are prepared by ADR Motorsport of Chesterfield on behalf of Cirencester based Mitsubishi Motors UK. The team is sponsored by: Pirelli, Shell Racing Fuels, Rampage Performance Motorparts, Speedline Corse, PIAA and ADR Motorsport.

Team Quotes

Rory Galligan - Driver
"I can't believe how well things went for us on this event. It could not have gone better. I really have to thank the team for giving me a car that not only handled well right from the start, but ran faultlessly throughout the event."
"There was not a moment when I thought there was a problem and I have to say the gearbox was perfect. Greg also did a great job. It's a tough event for co-drivers. It was a real shame for David who just doesn't seem to be getting any luck at all this season"

David Higgins - Driver
"This just isn't my year. It seems that if it can go wrong, then it does. Everything was going so well for us before we retired. I was very happy with the pace we were going, I even had a bit in reserve and we were just about to drive the stages I know well."
"The car was excellent before the engine went. I think that it may have been a result of the broken radiator following the ford on the previous night. I'll now just have to wait until the next round to put the record straight"

Paul Brigden - General Manager, Mitsubishi Motors UK Ralliart
"It was another impressive performance by Rory and I'm delighted he is now leading the Production Championship with an event in hand. I'm so disappointed for David. It's just not going his way this season, which is a great shame as we all know what he is capable of."
"The team did another great job of fielding two cars which performed superbly. If it wasn't for the damage done to the engine on Friday night I am sure we would have been on for the elusive one-two Production Category result we are looking for."

1 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 37m 27s,
2 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Toyota Corolla WRC) 2h 43m 10s,
3 Derek McGarrity/Dermot O’Gorman (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 44m 49s,
4 Eamonn Boland/Francis Regan (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 46m 55s,
5 Paul Bird/Ian Windress (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 47m 31s,
6 Austin McHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 48m 01s,
7 Rory Galligan/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.5) GpN 2h 49m 03s,
8 Robert Watson/Rob Fagg (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.5) GpN 2h 49m 37s,
9 Barry Clark/Neil Shanks (Subaru Impreza N10) GpN 2h 53m 56s,
10 Garry Jennings/James McKee (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6) GpN 2h 54m 37s.

Higgins celebrates!

Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely

Day 2: Higgins seeks perfection
Even by Mark Higgins own very high standards, tomorrow offers the prospect of a genuinely historic achievement. The Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Rally Championship leader has been in dominant form on the opening two days of the TOTAL Manx International Rally, fastest on every one of the 16 closed-public road stages.

There are seven more stages on Saturday’s final leg, and if Higgins can complete a full set of fastest times it’ll certainly be a Manx International first and may well be a British Championship first as well.

It is a fact not lost on Mark. ‘Bryan (Thomas, co-driver) said to me on the final road section ‘I know what your thinking’, and yes it’d be a lovely thing to achieve and I can’t deny I’m keen but we have to temper it against the need for a maximum points haul in the BRC.’

Despite another day of inhospitable Manx weather the leaders Ford Focus WRC had had little trouble, stretching the lead stage by stage and even a throttle body problem and a wrong tyre choice on the penultimate stage did nothing to halt the march.

Kenny McKinstry and Noel Orr faced up to the task of trying to keep the leaders honest in their Impreza WRC, and the times were very respectable all day long, holding onto second place right up until the final test when they crashed off the road on a slippery square left, and out of the rally.

The accident promotes Eugene Donnelly and Paul Kiely (Toyota Corolla WRC) to the spot, 3 minutes 5 seconds in arrears, but concentrating on those Pirelli Irish Championship points rather than any form of chase. In that regard they have a healthy 1:27 advantage over Derek McGaritty’s Subaru. Donnelly’s day didn’t get of to the best of starts. ‘I accidentally switched the fuel pump off, I was trying to turn off the anit-lag which was too aggressive and knocked the wrong switch, cost us about 10-seconds coasting’ A stage later it was McGaritty’s turn to give 15 back, misjudging a chicane and turning hard right straight into a bank, spinning‘ Eamon Boland has made quiet progress too, up to fourth, while Paul Bird is doing the job the Stobart Team asked of him, ahead of Austin MacHale, who is second in the BRC standings.

Both of Austin’s sons are out of the event, Gareth withdrawing the Toyota at morning service after failing to get anything like good suspension settings, while Aaron was also out at the same point with mechanical maladies.

Rory Galligan was having a great fight with team-mate David Higgins but that all came to an end at Jurby this afternoon when David’s Mitsubishi caught fire. The crew are ok and it leaves Robs’ Watson and Fagg in second and a fine seventh overall, with the new radiator shipped in and finally fitted in last service tonight. Sixty two seconds is the deficit but Watson is planning a big push tomorrow, even though he was ‘as fast I’d want to go’ in places today. the crew also did the gallant thing and stopped to give David their extinguisher at the fire. The top ten are rounded out by Mel Evans (Impreza), Austin MacHale (Focus) and Tony Davies (Impreza).

Barry Clark lies 11th despite having a conventional gearbox fitted last night and a front diff explode this afternoon, but team-mate and current Production standings leader Lorna Smith had to stop and change a puncture on the final stage, dropping her to 23rd place.

Locals Nigel and Michaela Cannell continue to lead the two wheel drive cars in 14th asn Simon Hughes now leads his class in the Clio. Other retirement s include Gareth Jones, the young Welshman crashing out of the top 6 and Andrew Leece, who blew his Clio’s motor to bits on the Jurby, 37 of the original 49 crews are set to start the final long day, which includes a sting in the tail with St Marks, Orrisdale and the Classic stage having not been used yet during the rally. Who knows, we may yet even see some sunshine on this 42nd Manx!

TOTAL Manx International Rally Leaderboard after Stage 16 of 23 (End of day 2)
1 Mark Higgins/Brian Thomas (Ford Focus WRC) 1 Hour 42 Mins 13.1 Secs
2 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Toyota Corolla WRC) 1:45:18.9
3 Derek McGarrity/Dermot O'Gorman (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1:46:45.9
4 Eamonn Boland/Francis Regan (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1:48:09.6
5 Paul Bird/Ian Windress (Ford Focus WRC) 1:48:36.0
6 Rory Galligan/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.5) 1:48:59.4
7 Robert Watson/Robert Fagg (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.5) 1:50:01.4
8 Melvyn Evans/Sean Mullally (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1:50:46.9
9 Austin MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC) 1:50:51.2
10 Tony Davies/Patrick Walsh (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1:51:02.8

Higgins survives scares to lead TOTAL Manx International Rally after Day One
Mark Higgins (Carno) and Bryan Thomas (Leominster) lead the TOTAL Manx International Rally after the opening days’ five rain-lashed stages despite being hampered by a spin and a puncture.

The Eddie Stobart Ford Focus WRC$pair, leaders of the Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Rally Championship, have a 19 second lead over the Subaru Impreza WRC of Northern Ireland’s Kenny McKinstry and Noel Orr, and the top two have remained unchanged since the tea-time start.

Higgins opened up an immediate lead of 4.2 seconds on the opening stage, but even so wasn’t happy. ‘It felt like a boat compared to the Jim Clark Rally, it’d the wrong set-up and felt really soft,’ he said after removing his crash helmet. In fact he had reverted to the settings he was unhappy with on the Roush Manx Rally in May, which he reckoned to be as much as 25% different from the Jim Clark.

As the event moved on to the double run of the Castletown spectator stage he added just a second to his lead as McKinstry matched him on the second run, allowing him to get back to service to make the much needed adjustments.

It worked up to a point. ‘The car's a lot stiffer now we've changed the setting - a lot happier,’ was the message at the end of the fourth test in horrendous misty conditions with driving rain at Brandywell. He had also been lucky, ’It’s very slippery and we had a spin in there at the hairpin left, I had to do the 'famous' Higgins recovery manoeuvre!’ They weren’t alone as most of the top crews had tales to tell of spins and overshoots.

McKinstry, putting a ‘rusty’ opening stage behind him, was on of them, ruining any chance of taking advantage of the leaders’ delay. ‘We spun in the same place as last time, Lovell’s bend’ he said, but he was to get another chance as the final stage of the night took the crews further north to Maughold.

Higgins punctured and had to drive the last 3 miles with it, but again Kenny had his own difficulty, thinking he too had a puncture and then a bad landing over a ford slowed him too.

Sitting nicely in third is Maghera’s Eugene Donnelly (Toyota Corolla WRC), the current Pirelli Irish Taramc Championship leader 13.6 seconds of second place on his 3-day, 23 stage event. That overnight position comes despite coming across Austin MacHale stopped after the ford on the final stage. Donnelly’s own screen had steamed up in the miserable conditions and they had to stop for 10-15 seconds while negotiating the MacHale Focus.

Donnelly’s nearest points challenger, Derek McGarrity, summed up his run as, ‘a good night's work, I’m annoyed at the spin on SS4 and absolutely detest the fog. We seemed to hit some debris from Higgins’ puncture and there’s a vibration in the rear to look at.’ Derek was using his familiar S9 Impreza rather than the rumoured new S10.

Wales’ Gareth Jones is having a great run in another Impreza, heading the Fous of Paul Bird, team-mate to Mark Higgins and whose job this weekend is as spoiler to the teams points-chasing rivals.

In the Production class battle Rory Galligan sneaked into the lead at the end of the day with the sister car of reigning British Champion David Higgins just 4.7 seconds behind and local man Rob Watson only another 3.1 behind that. Both the factory Mitsubishi’s have suffered damaged radiators, a fate also befalling Watson. ‘We hit a bale with the front end on SS4’, he said back at the TT Grandstand. ‘I thought I'd damaged the radiator, but it was only leaking slightly, and we were still fastest group N on the stage’, though in service he was desperately searching for a replacement and wasn’t sure he’d make the second day.

Elsewhere Barry Clark (Impreza) lost fourth gear on the very first stage, prompting a new box at the end of the night and a blown turbo pipe cost Tony Davies’ Impreza 2 minutes.

Husband and wife team Nigel and Michaela Cannell lead the front wheel drive machinery in 15th place overall in their Opel Corsa, just 2 seconds up on Guy Woodcock with another local, Andrew Leece a minute to the good in the Formula 2000 category over Simon Hughes’ similar Renault Clio.

The only major retirement so far has been leading Irish Production class runner Roy White, sidelined with a blown headgasket on his Mitsubishi.

Friday is the longest day of the Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Championship year, spanning 12 hours and eleven stages.

Positions after 5 of 23 stages (End of Day One) (mm.ss.0)
1st Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Ford Focus WRC) 26.14.5
2nd Kenny McKinstry/Noel Orr (Subaru Impreza WRC) 26.33.5
3rd Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Toyota Corolla WRC) 26.47.1
4th Derek McGarrity/Dermot O'Gorman (Subaru Impreza WRC) 27.08.6
5th Gareth Jones/Ieuan Thomas (Subaru Impreza WRC) 27.16.6
6th Paul Bird/Ian Windress (Ford Focus WRC) 27.41.3
7th Eamonn Boland/Francis Regan (Subaru Impreza WRC) 27.43.0
8th Rory Galligan/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.5) 27.47.7
9th David Higgins/Daniel Barritt (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.5) 27.52.4
10th Tim McNulty/Eugene O'Donnell (Subaru Impreza WRC) 28.03.6
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TOTAL Manx International Rally receives major TV boost
This week’s 42nd Manx International Rally, sponsored by TOTAL Isle of Man for the first time, has been given a major boost with news that the event will receive increased television coverage.

Sky Sports, who televise the Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Rally Championship, have allocated the spectacular event an hour and a half of prime-time coverage next week, more than any other event in the series.

The first screening of the first show will be next Monday, from 6.30pm, for a full hour on Sky Sports 2, covering all the thrills and spills of the battle for outright victory. Then on Wednesday a further thirty minute programme, ‘Rallyzone’, again on Sky Sports 2 at 6pm will feature the Production category and other classes. Both programmes will be repeated several times.

< The coverage will be produced by Greenlight TV, one of the worlds leading motorsports programme makers, who are based on the island.

Event Director Richard Bargery is naturally delighted. ‘It’s great news, the Manx is the longest round of the championship in terms of both days and mileage and this will allow for much more thorough coverage of the event to be seen by a wide audience. It’ll also help to give both the event and our island increased exposure, and we’d like to thank Greenlight TV and Sky Sports for their support.’

TOTAL Manx International Rally television transmission times are:
Monday 1st August 18:30-19:30 Sky Sports 2
Monday 1st August 22:30-23:30 Sky Sports 2
Tuesday 2nd August 03:30-04:30 Sky Sports 2
Tuesday 2nd August 08:30-09:30 Sky Sports 3
Tuesday 2nd August 11:00-12:00 Sky Sports 2
Tuesday 2nd August 15:00-16:00 Sky Sports 1
Wednesday 3rd August 18:00-18:30 Sky Sports 2 (Rallyzone)
Wednesday 3rd August 20:30-21:00 Sky Sports 2 (Rallyzone)
Thursday 4th August 01:00-01:30 Sky Sports 3 (Rallyzone)
Thursday 4th August 12:30-13:00 Sky Sports 2 (Rallyzone)
Thursday 4th August 15:00-15:30 Sky Sports 2 (Rallyzone)

Those on the island will be able to see the coverage at the Events Prize Presentation at the Villa Marina on Douglas Promenade this Saturday evening, adding to what is already a great party atmosphere to round off the event.

Fermanagh businessman Garry Jennings will contest the sixth round of the Pirelli Irish Tarmac Championship with a healthy 14 point lead in the Group N4 category.

Jennings has competed on the 170 mile all asphalt event twice before in 2002 and 2003. We took an Evo 6 in 2002 but the turbo let go on stage five, commented Jennings, But 2003 was really special. Running at car one in the works Peugeot we finished seventh overall, I can only hope we get somewhere near that again this year.

The team has a dilemma however. The trusty Mitsubishi Evo 6 is fuelled up and ready to go but KG Motorsport that supplies the car has a brand new Evo 8.5 waiting in the wings. Im off to do the recce on Wednesday, said Jennings, and I still dont know which car to take. I know the new car should be faster but I havent had chance to drive it or test it.

Whichever of the Kumho shod four wheel drive machines Jennings decides to take, the chasing pack has some ground to make up. Three wins and a second place from five rallies puts him in a commanding position in the series. But he knows that pride can easily come before a fall and the unforgiving Manx lanes can catch out the most experienced crew, so speed and accuracy are required to stay on the black stuff.

The classic event which is also a qualifying round of the Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Rally starts from the famous TT Grandstand in Douglas on Thursday afternoon, using it as a base until the finish on the pit lane podium on Saturday.

  • Galligan eyes fourth PBRC victory.
  • Higgins aims to put title chase back on track Round five of the Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Rally Championship takes place this weekend (28th, 29th & 30th July) with the series' annual trip to the Isle of Man, the Total Manx International Rally providing the Mitsubishi Motors UK works team with its second asphalt event of the season.

    With three Production Class victories to his merit so far, one being last time out on the closed roads of the Jim Clark Memorial Rally, Rory Galligan, from Oldcastle and his co-driver, Greg Shinnors, from Limerick, can't wait to get back into the car and carry on from where they left off in Scotland, as Galligan explains:
    "We had an excellent run on the last event and I was very pleased with the set-up of the car, bearing in mind that was our first tarmac event in the works Mitsubishi. If it feels the same on the Manx roads then I know we'll be competitive, but needless to say, my main competition for Production Category honours is going to come from David."

    Galligan is currently second in the PBRC standings, just one point behind Launa Smith who has scored on each round, but with competitors counting six scores from the season's eight events, the Irishman currently holds the advantage having already dropped a round.

    Being born on the island, David Higgins, who now lives in Trefeglwys, North Wales, needs no introduction to the Manx lanes and he and co-driver, Daniel Barritt, from Burnley, will be looking to use this to their advantage this weekend.

    For Higgins, the Jim Clark Rally was nothing short of disappointing. Having to contend with a fractured right arm (not easy in a left had drive car!) and his car drowning out in a deep ford, Higgins admitted it was a difficult event and is determined to get his season back on track this time.
    "It's been a frustrating year so far. I've had two retirements and not yet won a round of the PBRC for a number of different reasons. However, stage times reflect that if we don't get any problems we should be on for a top result and it would be great to record our first victory of the year on the Isle of Man."

    Higgins currently holds an uncharacteristic eighth in the Production Class standings and could also benefit from the six out of eight score ruling if the remainder of the season goes according to plan.

    For Mitsubishi, the season is already looking good, not just because the two Lancer Evolution VIII MRs have shown such impressive speed, but the UK team now holds a 15 point lead in the Teams Cup.

    Paul Brigden, General Manager of Ralliart, is also optimistic about the forthcoming event:
    "We are still looking for the elusive one-two in the Production Class this season. Because of the current points situation is important that both cars finish on the Isle of Man and I am sure that if both crews get a good run we can achieve our objectives."

    The Total Manx International Rally gets underway from the Douglas TT Grandstand at 6.30 pm on Thursday with five special stages that evening. The rally restarts on Friday for a full day of competition featuring 11 stages and concludes at 3.00 pm on Saturday following another seven stages - the sum total of which provides teams with a challenging 176 miles of competition.

    The two Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MRs are prepared by ADR Motorsport of Chesterfield on behalf of Cirencester based Mitsubishi Motors UK. The team is sponsored by: Pirelli, Shell Racing Fuels, Rampage Performance Motorparts, Speedline Corse, PIAA and ADR Motorsport.

    Quality entry sets up a magical ‘Manx’
    Next weeks 42nd Manx International Rally, sponsored for the first time by TOTAL Isle of Man, has attracted a high quality line-up that ensures the event looks set to be a great spectacle.

    The favourite will be a local hero; Manxman Mark Higgins. The Eddie Stobart team driver is a twice former winner and the current Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Championship leader. He’ll once again have Bryan Thomas alongside in the 2002-spec Ford Focus WRC.

    A quality field however means that the pair will have a battle on their hands. Kenny McKinstry remains determined to take the one big win to elude him in his illustrious career, and the Banbridge man and Noel Orr have no championship concerns to hold them back in their Subaru Impreza WRC.

    The other leading Irish drivers are involved in a dog-fight at the top of the Pirelli Irish Tarmac Championship standings. The reigning joint champions both return to the notoriously fast and bumpy Manx lanes, Derek McGarrity from Glengormley (Subaru Impreza WRC) leads his defence bid by a solitary point from co-holder Eugene Donnelly (Toyota Corolla WRC). McGarrity has finished on the podium for the last two years and will be aiming higher, but Donnelly took an excellent fourth on his first visit in 2004.

    On the recent Jim Clark Memorial Rally the Irish contenders proved that they have strength in depth as Summerhill’s Tim McNulty pushed Higgins all the way in another Impreza, the car that is also the weapon of choice for Eamon Boland.

    The MacHale family come to the event triple-handed. Irish legend Austin has a 2003 version of the Focus WRC in his bid to land a British crown that he so narrowly missed out on last term, while at the same time keeping more than an interested eye on the Irish points battle too, making him a busy man this year. Results to date have him second in Britain and third on the other side of the Irish Sea and with this event offering points for both a good result is a must.

    Son Gareth has lit up the stages in his first year in a WRC (Toyota Corolla) and we can expect more of the same, while his brother Aaron is set to challenge for the showroom Production class.

    Penrith’s Paul Bird, who always goes well on the island, will contest the event as Mark Higgins team-mate in a similar Focus while Welshmen Mel Evans and Gareth Jones add their Impreza’s to the fray as well.

    With all those top names the event looks one not to miss, but the battle in the Production class is, if anything, set to be even more intense on the 23-stage, three day event.

    Once again a Higgins will be favourite, reigning British champion David in his factory Mitsubishi, but he’ll have to fend off team-mate Rory Galligan, last years winner and home bred Rob Watson, Ireland’s top runners such as Roy White, Gary Jennings, Willie Fannin and Colm Murphy and from the British side add in Scotland’s Lorna Smith, who leads the standings in the category, Barry Clark, Stephen Petch and Robert Swann and you have the makings of an absolute thriller. The class battles are set to continue further down the entry list too, and eager anticipation awaits the start next Thursday afternoon, 28th July.

    Full details will be available in the souvenir event programme with entry lists, stage maps, when to catch the action and features on the leading crews. Programmes will be on sale across the island throughout rally week, or order your copy on the rally Website.

    Top 20
    1 Mark Higgins / Bryan Thomas Ford Focus WRC A8
    2 Kenny McKinstry / Noel Orr Subaru Impreza WRC A8
    3 Derek McGarrity / Dermot O'Gorman Subaru Impreza WRC A8
    4 Austin MacHale / Brian Murphy Ford Focus WRC A8
    5 Eugene Donnelly / Paul Kiely Toyota Corolla WRC A8
    6 Tim McNulty / Eugene O'Donnell Subaru Impreza WRC A8
    7 Eamonn Boland / Francis Regan Subaru Impreza WRC A8
    8 Paul Bird / Ian Windress Ford Focus WRC A8
    9 Melvyn Evans / Sean Mullally Subaru Impreza WRC A8
    10 Gareth Jones / Ieuan Thomas Subaru Impreza WRC A8
    11 Gareth MacHale / Paul Nagle Toyota Corolla WRC A8
    12 David Higgins / Daniel Barritt Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 8 MR N4
    14 Rory Galligan / Greg Shinnors Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 8 MR N4
    15 Robert Watson / Robert Fagg Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 8 N4
    16 Tony Davies / Patrick Walsh Subaru Impreza WRC A8
    17 Roy White / Stephen McAuley Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 8.5 N4
    18 Richard Gower / Mark Solloway Hyundai Accent WRC A8
    19 Nigel Hicklin / Sam McMullan Skoda Octavia WRC A8
    20 Gary Jennings / Rory Kennedy Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 6 N4
    21 Willie Fannin / Brian Duggan Subaru Impreza N9 N4
    TOTAL Manx International Rally just three weeks away
    With a few days still to go before the close of entries, more than 150 crews have already submitted applications for a place on the start list of TOTAL Manx International Rally and its supporting events, the Conister Trust Manx Historic Rally, Star Services Manx Trophy Rally and the Manx Landrover Rally, meaning that the 42nd renewal of the event looks like being another fantastic weekend of closed-roads motorsport.

    It’s now just under a month until the three day rally begins, taking place from Thursday July 28th to Saturday 30th July 2005, and the TOTAL ‘Manx’ once again features as a high profile round of several major championships:
    • The 2005 Kwik-Fit MSA Pirelli British Rally Championship – Round 5
    • The 2005 Pirelli Irish Tarmac Rally Championship – Round 6
    • The 2005 West Euro Cup – Round 5
    • The Fiat Rally Cup - Round 4
    Among the entries received is that of local hero Mark Higgins as he continues his British Championship bid at the wheel of Ford Focus WRC. We must wait to see if Mark’s team-mate Matthew Wilson has recovered sufficiently from injuries sustained earlier in the year to attend, but Northern Ireland’s Kenny McKinstry plans to return for another crack at the elusive Manx win.

    The event retains the format that in 2004 saw it named ‘Rally of the Year’ in the Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Rally Championship, beginning with a pre-event BBQ, sponsored by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, and featuring free entry to all competitors and officials on the evening of Wednesday 27th July at the TT Grandstand in Douglas, which will be the Rally HQ and central service area throughout the week.

    Scrutineering and documentation will take place from Thursday morning with the rally itself firing into action at tea-time for the first 5 of 23 special closed public roads stages. Two of those Thursday tests are the ever popular dash through the streets of the ancient capital of the island, on the HSBC Castletown stage.

    A further 11 high-speed runs follow on Friday across the island, including a new version of the town stage in Ramsey, starting at the Grand Island Hotel, and similar to Castletown run twice with excellent spectating opportunities.

    The remaining 7 timed to a tenth of a second tests on Saturday close with the Barclays Classic stage over Druidale and through the Baldwins before arriving at the TT Grandstand where the champagne will be sprayed at around 4pm.

    A major change this year are regulations that will allow competitors who retire on the first two days to re-start the next day, which will hopefully offer even more action for competitors and spectators alike.

    Entries remain open for all events for the next few days, so act fast and we look forward to seeing you in late July!

    Entries Open for TOTAL Manx International Rally
    Entries have now opened for one of the highlights of the British Isles rally calendar, the TOTAL Manx International Rally, which takes place from Thursday July 28th to Saturday 30th July 2005.

    The event ones again features as a high profile round of several major championships, including:
      • The 2005 Kwik-Fit MSA Pirelli British Rally Championship – Round 5
      • The 2005 Pirelli Irish Tarmac Rally Championship – Round 6
      • The 2005 West Euro Cup – Round 5
      • The Fiat Rally Cup - Round 4
    The event retains the format that in 2004 saw it named ‘Rally of the Year’ in the Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Rally Championship, beginning with a pre-event BBQ featuring free entry to all competitors and officials on the evening of Wednesday 27th July at the TT Grandstand in Douglas, which will be the Rally HQ and central service area throughout.

    Scrutineering and documentation will take place from Thursday morning with the rally itself firing into action at tea-time for the first 5 of 23 special closed public roads stages. A further 11 stages follow on Friday across the island and the winners should be spraying the champagne at around 4pm on Saturday after the concluding 7 timed to a tenth of a second tests. In total crews will tackle a 405 mile route, 177 of which are on stages.

    A major change this year are regulations that will allow competitors who retire on the first two days to re-start the next day.

    In total last year over 180 rally crews took to the world famous Manx stages, and three major support events are retained for 2005, the Conister Trust Manx Historic Rally, the Star Services Manx Trophy Rally, and the Manx Landrover Rally. The Conister Trust Manx Historic Rally is a qualifying round of:
      • The Armajaro-MSA British Historic Rally Championship 2005 - Incorporating the HRCR Historic Rally Challenge and the HRCR Classic Challenge supported by Mintex - Round 6
      • The Pirelli Irish Tarmac Historic Rally Championship - Round 5
    Historic competitors will tackle 21 stages across the three days, while the Star Services Trophy Rally will take in the last 9 stages of the event, starting on Friday afternoon. The ever popular Manx Landrover Rally crews will contest the whole event.

    Entries for all events close on Friday 1st July, so act fast and we look forward to seeing you in late July!

    Ground-breaking TOTAL Manx International Rally to allow crews to re-start
    This years’ TOTAL Manx International Rally, which takes place from Thursday July 28th to Saturday 30th July, is set to break new ground in British international rallying by allowing crews who retire to re-start subsequent days of the event.

    Following consultation with senior figures in the sport, including its governing body the MSA and leading competitors, the organisers have framed new regulations that will allow crews who retire during the first two days of the rally to re-start on the remaining days.

    Competitors using these rules to re-join the event will continue to be shown in the event classification, but will receive a penalty of 30 minutes and an additional 30 seconds per stage mile missed.

    Clerk of the Course Richard Bargery explains the reasoning behind the initiative. ’As we are all aware the costs of running any car in international rallying are high and it therefore makes sense for us to allow competitors the opportunity to get the best value for their money that they can.’

    ‘The best way that we can do this is to allow them to maximise their involvement in the event with the opportunity to tackle as many stages as possible. We very much hope that this will add extra interest for competitors and spectators alike and may encourage entries from crews who haven’t previously considered tackling the ‘Manx’.’

    It is very much a new concept for the sport and these regulations differ significantly from those employed in the World Rally Championship.

    Prior to re-starting, vehicles will have to receive the approval of event Scrutineers and Stewards, but the teams can work on the cars until within an hour of the start of each leg to maximise their opportunity to put them back into action.

    Although crews re-starting won’t be eligible for championship points in any of the qualifying series they will still be able to fight for event awards.

    TOTAL to sponsor Manx International Rally
    The organisers of the Manx International Rally are delighted to announce that TOTAL ISLE OF MAN LTD, part of the world’s fourth-largest international oil company, are to sponsor the 42nd running of the event later this summer.

    TOTAL have been involved with the rally for many years, principally acting as a stage sponsor. The extension for them to become the headline sponsor of the main International Rally, one of the Isle of Man’s biggest sporting events, is extremely welcome.

    Total have been present on the Isle of Man since 1989, employing 70 people and supplying twelve retail forecourts. They are also the leading provider of heating fuels for both home and commercial use.

    Confirming the company’s involvement with the event, John Ryder, General Manager of TOTAL ISLE OF MAN LIMITED commented, ’The opportunity to extend our relationship with the Manx International Rally provides a wonderful opportunity for us to illustrate our commitment to the Islands motor sport’s community. Furthermore TOTAL’s commitment to excellence is mirrored by the award winning rally team, and I believe our partnership will make for another exciting Manx International.

    Event Director Richard Bargery believes the news has come at just the right time. 'As the organisation of the event gathers pace towards July it is wonderful to be able to welcome such a high profile new sponsor. The TOTAL name and brand is known worldwide, and their involvement can only strengthen the events status as one of the most important rallies in the British Isles. We thank the company and look forward to our association with them.’

    TOTAL are well known sponsors in motor sport, and rallying in particular, with their support of the Peugeot World Rally Championship team as just one example, but the agreement marks the first time they have sponsored a British Isles rally.

    The Manx International Rally began in 1963, making it one of the longest-standing events on the international rally calendar, and its organising team was awarded the prestigious ‘Rally of the Year’ title by the British Rally Championship earlier this year. In 2005 it will once again be a qualifying round of both the British and Irish Rally Championships and the West Euro Cup.

    The event will be known as the Manx International Rally, sponsored by TOTAL, and takes place from Thursday 28th to Saturday 30th July.
    Manx International Rally thrilled to be named ‘Rally of the Year’
    The 2004 Manx International Rally was last week named ‘Rally of the Year’ at the Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Rally Championship Awards Presentation evening in Birmingham.

    The prestigious award is voted for by a selection of competitors, championship officials and personnel who attended all eight events in the 2004 calendar, and Championship Manager Mark Taylor was quick to praise the event that topped the poll.

    ‘I want to congratulate the Manx International Rally organising team for their success in winning the 2004 BRC Rally of the Year award’, he said after presenting the trophy to Event Director Richard Bargery.
    ‘The event has made many improvements that have been popular with its customers in recent years. Being centrally based at the TT Grandstand, the 2004 rally had great atmosphere and the organisational attention to details was second to none. The British Rally Championship Rally of the Year trophy truly recognises their strengths in organisation and they should be very proud of their achievements.’

    The event organisers are naturally thrilled to have won the title. ‘It’s a huge reward for the entire team involved in putting the event on’, says Richard Bargery. ‘We are extremely fortunate to have such an experienced and dedicated team from both on and off-island behind the rally and it is particularly thrilling that those most closely involved with the championship, especially the competitors, hold the ‘Manx’ in such high regard.’

    There were several innovations for the 2004 event including a hugely successful pre-event social barbeque for all officials and competitors that set the tone for the week, as well as having the entire event based at the TT Gramdstand, including scrutineering and all servicing. As a result the rally received unanimous praise from competitors, media and spectators alike, and this acknoweldgement is a boost as planning for the 2005 event gathers momentum.

    The organisors would like to thank the Isle of Man Department of Tourist and Leisure for their support, and in particular the Special Events Unit based at the TT Grandstand.

    The 42nd Manx International Rally takes place from the 28th to 30th July.

    2005 Key Dates:
    April 8th - Regulations posted / available on line @ website below
    July 8th - Entries close

  • Topics: Rally Isle of Man 

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