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Rally Isle of Man (Manx) - 19-21 Jul 07

Posted: July 25, 2007 5:37 AM - 16130 Hits

Round 6 - 2007 Tarmac Rally Championship
Round 3 - 2007 British Rally Championship
Round 6 - 2007 Armajaro MSA British Historic Rally Championship

  • Eugene Donnelly make it 2 in row on the Manx
  • BHRC report, round five: Isle of Man Historic Rally
  • Bird Claims Fourth in Manx International Rally

Posted: July 25, 2007 5:37 AM

It was three days of mixed emotions for the TQ RED crew of David Higgins and Ieuan Thomas on Rally Isle of Man last weekend.

The crew showed exactly what they were capable of when things fall into place by setting three fastest stage times in the British Rally Championship section of the event. One was second fastest overall behind Andreas Mikkelsen in his Ford Focus WRC, and the other two were third fastest overall behind Andreas and Eugene Donnelly in his Subaru Impreza WRC.

“When things worked well we showed the real promise the car has,” says David. “But we need to continue working on developing that promise. We had a problem with the car where it was pulling to the right when we accelerated on slicks, so we could only run on inters which were not the right tyre choice for most stages.”

The crew also suffered from overheating problems during the rally which resulted in them having to top the car up with water after every stage. David and Ieuan handled the problem well, but the car finally cried enough as it returned to service after stage 19.

With only three stages to go, they were forced to finish the rally under superally regulations. David picked up three championship points.

“When we had to retire we were set to pick up third placed points in the BRC,” says David. “After the problems we had that would have been fantastic, especially after our second place finish on the Jim Clark. The team are now planning a two-day test ahead of the Ulster Rally in September.”

It was a better weekend for David’s TQ RED team mate Hugh Evans. Hugh and his co-driver Iestyn Williams finished ninth in the British Rally Championship points. It is a fantastic achievement for Evans who was contesting the notoriously challenging event for the first time.

David and Ieuan will now switch back to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9 they use in the Chinese Rally Championship as they prepare for the Kaiyang Rally on 4th/5th August. The WY rally team they drive for leads the teams championship thanks to David and Ieuan winning all three rounds of the championship so far.

Nineteen year old Darren Gass from Markethill in county Armagh and Scottish co-driver Neil Shanks scored their second straight fifth place in the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship this weekend.

In doing so, the youngest driver in the 2007 Championship moved within seven points of triple champion Mark Higgins and was nominated as the third Pirelli Star Driver finalist. The award means he will go into a shoot out with five other nominees for the inaugural Pirelli Star Driver prize, a fully funded drive in the 2008 British Rally Championship.

However the result and subsequent selection was not without its dramas. They were bettered by fellow C2 driver Conrad Rautenbach on the first stage by just 1.4 seconds but pulled ahead by 0.6 of a second on the next stage. The opening spectator special through Castletown was rerun as stages three and four and by the overnight halt Darren lay sixth, still less than two seconds adrift of the Zimbabwean class leader.

With the prospect of rain all the drivers gambled on their tyre choice being correct and the youngster chose well for Friday’s opening 7.38 mile stage. Darren extended the tiny third of a second advantage to two thirds by the next stage, but he lost the advantage when the handbrake failed to slow the car on the first run through Ballig. “We hadn’t used the handbrake until that point,” he explained, “so it was a bit of a surprise when it didn’t work and we ended up hitting a bale. It was superficial damage but we dropped over eight seconds to Conrad.”

Any threat from Stefan Davis faded on the same stage when he retired, only continuing on Saturday using Super Rally rules. This left the way clear for a straight fight with Rautenbach, but stage twelve was about to prove their worst. A front puncture on a very fast section caused them to stop to change the tyre. “It went down almost immediately,” said Neil, “but we managed to change it really quickly and only lost two minutes twenty seconds. We got plenty of practice in Belgium last month so we both knew exactly what to do.”

The puncture left them seventh BRC crew overnight, after the final test was cancelled due to the discovery of an unexploded WW2 bomb. More critically they dropped out of contention for the class win, or so they believed.

The opening stage of Saturday would throw up an opportunity as Rautenbach went off, losing almost nineteen minutes and promoting Darren and Neil a place to sixth. Unable to make any impression on the cars ahead in the remaining stages, Darren took the decision to consolidate the position, pushing to maintain concentration when the conditions allowed.

Their excellent result promotes them to fourth in the overall Championship, Darren leading both the Junior Driver and Rally 3 categories. “We could have been third overall if it wasn’t for the puncture,” he said at the finish, “but to get the Pirelli Star Driver award is fantastic, I’m made up. The car has run without a hitch and we worked really well together on what is a really tough event.”

The series moved to Northern Ireland for the next round on the last day of August and first day of September for the Ulster International Rally, an event Darren is especially looking forward to. “I can stay in my own bed every night.” he smiled, “The rally starts and finishes in Armagh about six miles from my house so we should have a lot of local support.”

Darren would like to thank Quarryfix Ltd, Cheevers Chemists, Dalzells of Markethill, Haffey Plant Hire, Killycarn Sand & Gravel , EMC Autopax, AC Vehicle Components, Sligo Pallets, Castrol, ID Graphics (NI) and Crozier Motorsport Engineering for their support in 2007. You can check on the team’s progress at www.darrengass.com

Round six of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, the Rally Isle of Man was a superb event for the Reid Motorsport team with Eugene Donnelly and Paul Kiely in their Reid Subaru taking overall victory, and James Cullen and Reba Graham in the Reid Mitsubishi Evo 9 taking Irish Group N victory and a fine seventh overall.

For Eugene Donnelly the rally was crucial for his championship hopes. “For us a win on the Rally Isle of Man was just what we needed for full points in our Irish Tarmac Championship assault, and to score our second consecutive win on the rally was superb.” Eugene started the rally in superb fashion leading after the first four stages on the Thursday evening and confessing to be much happier with his S12 Impreza. “We had a very constructive test the week before, and went back to our settings from Galway and worked again from there as we felt we hadn’t progressed on the last three events, and Derek McGeehan and Eddie Corr did a fabulous job here and on the rally.” But on Friday the real meat of this tough event started and the clouds threatened. “Starting day two I was a little unadventurous with my tyre choice, going for a soft cut tyre as rain threatened, but Andreas Mikkelsen had a better choice on a medium slick and took some time. We also clipped a bank on the third stage out, damaging a tyre and we had to run two inters on the back for the Mines test, but I was confident that once we got back on the right rubber we would be able to take back time, as we weren’t at ten tenths.” But Andreas ended his chances against a bank, and then championship leader Mark Higgins ended his chances by slipping into a ditch. It left Eugene with over a three minute lead on day two over Eamon Boland, and having to pace himself to the finish.

“The Reid Motorsport team worked brilliantly. I had great information from Padraig and Richard Price in our gravel crew, and Ian Howard co-ordinated the team very well. They had a few things to sort out like a power steering belt which got damaged, and we had to hope it didn’t slip until we managed to successfully acquire another belt.” Indeed they even had time to check out the local wildlife on the last day. “Then we had the fright of our lives on the second last stage coming round a flat 2 left and bang! I thought the car had blown up but a pheasant nearly went through our windscreen, and if it had of hit the grille we would have been out I think. We plan to do some more testing before the Ulster but it’s difficult for me to find the time to do everything as it’s hard to get the time to the proper testing and spend as much time in the car as some of our rivals would.” Eugene was also experimenting with his driving style using a little left foot braking on the fast stuff to stabilize the car, something which he felt was working. The next round is the Ulster International on August 31st. “I hope Mark is out in the WRC car on the Ulster as if I’m going to win the championship I want to win in proper, not in any way related to Mark being in a Group N car.”

For James Cullen and Reba Graham seventh overall, third in Group N and first Irish Group N was a superb result after a trying year so far for James. “We have had three non finishes so far this year so a finish was very important for us to have any hope in the championship race. On the Isle of Man for once luck seemed to go our way, so maybe things are changing.” Group N Irish Tarmac Championship leader Colm Murphy was absent from the Manx lanes, and second placed championship runner Kevin O’Donoghue was a very early retirement, but right from the word go James and Reba were on a fantastic pace, storming into the top ten.

“I really enjoyed the event. It brought back a lot of memories on those stages. They are fabulous stages, like the final stage of the event from Brandywell down, it would be hard to get a better bit of road.” It had been thirteen years since James had contested the Manx and on that occasion he was sixth overall and first in Group N ahead of Gwyndaf Evans, and this year he scored a similar result seventh overall and first Irish Tarmac Group N. “The boys at KG Motorsport have done a great job to rebuild the car in two weeks after my Jim Clark crash, get it to the finish in Donegal and now finish the Manx in one piece. We’ve had no major problems, despite having to revert back to our old suspension after an unsuccessful experiment in Donegal.” James now moves into third in the championship, just twelve points behind Colm Murphy in the lead. “Anything is possible and with points and a half in Cork it could still be possible to win the series, but we have to see how things go up to the Ulster.”

For Shaun Reid and Damien McAuley the Rally Isle of Man was a new experience in the Reid Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo 9 but unfortunately their Evo 9 decided to quit on the start line of stage nine with gearbox and rear driveshaft failure. ”Things were going fine for us up to that. We were getting our confidence back after our crash in Donegal, and we set some respectable times through the Castletown streets which were great fun to drive. It was annoying when the car broke down but we got it going for Super Rally on Saturday to gain a bit more experience for next year. I must admit the stages and organization were excellent, some really fast stuff” quipped Shaun. The next outing for Shaun and the rest of the Reid Motorsport team will be the Ulster Rally starting on Friday August 31st in Armagh, with a possibility of Eugene contesting the Lurgan Park Rally on 11th August.

BHRC report, round five: Isle of Man Historic Rally
Richard Tuthill and John Bennie scored a resounding victory on the Isle of Man Historic Rally, round five of the 2007 Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship (19-21 July). Once the Escort Mk2 of Martin McCormack/Liam Moynihan had gone out with engine failure on Friday, Tuthill/Bennie swept to a clear victory in their Porsche 911. Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James (Escort Mk2) and Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911) claimed their respective categories, while third place overall kept David Stokes/Guy Weaver (Escort Mk1) at the head of the championship. Once again, the Isle of Man rally had been a real test and the BHRC crews that finished the event were elated at having survived the toughest event on the calendar. For the thousands of spectators on the island, the historic crews provided some memorable action on classic asphalt stages.

  Category 1
Nutt/McBride came out fighting on Thursday evening and took an early lead. "We took it easy on the first stage and lost 20s to Dessie," admitted Patrick Watts at the end of the leg. "I'm surprised at the time; I thought I could have gone quicker," said Nutt. On the dry stages of Friday, Watts/Elgan Davies powered the Sunbeam Tiger ahead, but some rain showers in the afternoon allowed Nutt/McBride to come back fighting. "Hot and sweaty tells the story," said Nutt at the end of the Friday leg. However, when the Porsche hit rear suspension problems on Saturday morning it seemed that the battle had gone to the Tiger. That was until Watts suffered a major engine failure with two stages to run and Nutt swept back ahead for a hard-earned victory. The battle for what become second in the category and class B4 victory ebbed and flowed between the Lotus Cortinas of Philip Atkinson/Nicholas Kaighin and Jonathan Gale/Graham Gale. Brake and diff problems cost the Gales a lot of time in the Messagelabs-backed car, but they were fighting back into contention when Atkinson struck major gearbox dramas. Eventually, Atkinson headed into the final loop of stages with only third gear and head-butted a bank when trying to build up enough speed to climb the hairpins in Glen Roy in third gear. That put them out after a mighty effort, and elevated Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell (Lotus Cortina) to second in class. Nutt/McBride took class B5, well clear of Phil and Barbara Smith (Porsche 911) who were glad to finish their first asphalt event in the Porsche. A broken steering arm put Matt and Dood Pearce out of the B2 contest in their Mini Cooper, leaving Glenn Leece/John Tarrant well clear, while Gary and Jane Edgington got their Singer Chamois home to win B1.  

Category 2
Tuthill/Bennie took control of category two from the start and ended the rally back in Douglas on Saturday with over two minutes in hand after a stunning performance. "To win here is fantastic and the car has been perfect," said Tuthill at the finish. Stokes/Weaver went out with the intention of bagging another strong finish and did just that, although David did play to the gallery in Castletown and was reported to be one of the best sights of the event as he oversteered the Escort through the town. "That's the best we could have hoped for," he said after a faultless performance. Third in category two were Steven Smith and John Nichols (Porsche 911), glad to be finishing an event after a rather torrid season. Chasing Stokes in C5 were the Escort Mk1s of Frank Cunningham/Arron Forde and Craig Salter/Graham Wride. "It's like two rallies in one," said Cunningham after fighting back from a troubled opening leg. "It can't get any better than that," said an elated Salter after the opening leg ran in beautiful sunshine on Thursday evening. In C3, local crew John Corlett/Roy Sweetman took the spoils in their freshly built Escort RS2000. Class C2, meanwhile, was always going to be a battle between the Escort Mk1s of Ken Forster/John Stanger-Leathes and Vince Bristow/Dean Mitchell. On the island for the first time, Bristow really took the fight to Forster and was well within reach when a halfshaft failure put them out on Friday. Bristow/Mitchell rejoined on Saturday to win the trophy rally. "After non-finishes in the last two years, there's nothing like coming down that last stage; it's fantastic," said Forster.  

Category 3
"We're not in the wall, so that's a good start," joked McCormack at the end of Thursday evening. His pace was stunning on his first visit to the island and he maintained that pace until the engine let go near Foxdale on Friday and their rally was over. Instead, Lloyd/James swept ahead, but they could never relax for a moment as Martin Freestone/Michelle Calvert were having a mighty run in their Escort Mk2. Even at the end of 19 stages, the gap was little more than 40s. "Fantastic," said Lloyd on the finish ramp. "It’s so nice to come back after the problems on the last round. But Martin has kept us pushing all day," he added. Freestone was justifiably pleased with second in category three and one of his best results for several seasons. He was also quick to point out that cars carrying the colours of the Gambia took second, third, fourth and fifth places in the overall standings. Leading the chase of Lloyd and Freestone was the Escort of Dick Slaughter/Geoff Dearing and they rivaled Lloyd/James as the most spectacular car of the rally in the view of the spectators. Adrian Kermode/Maurice Beckett were the first crew to field a D4 class Porsche 911 on a BHRC round and coped with some teething problems to win the class and take third in category three, while class D3 was won by Mark and Brett Clifford (Escort Mk2) after an action-packed rally. Exhaust and oil cooler problems kept them busy on Saturday and they did the 14-mile Round Table stage dragging the exhaust under the car, but loved every minute of the event.  

Bird Claims Fourth in Manx International Rally

Penrith rally driver Paul Bird just missed out on a deserved podium finish when he posted fourth place overall after the three-day Manx International Rally.  

Driving the Stobart backed and Pirelli shod Subaru with co driver Andy Richardson, Bird was holding third place with just a couple of stages to go when he spun and lost time meaning after 168 miles of tough Manx lanes, he had to settle for fourth overall and an impressive third in the Irish Tarmac Championship.  

   “The suspension was too soft on Thursday and Friday so we stiffened it up and that made a difference.  But these guys are so fast, I can’t seem to catch them.”    

Bird pushed hard on the final day, including setting fastest time on one of the stages but on the last corner of the penultimate stage, a spin cost him the chance of a podium.    

“I threw it away, I made a minor mistake and blew it but I’m pleased enough with the result after not rallying on dry tarmac for over two years” concluded Bird.    

1 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 16m 23s,
2 Eamonn Boland/Francis Regan (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 20m 45s,
3 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) GpN 2h 21m 22s,
4 Paul Bird/Andy Richardson (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 21m 27s,
5 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 21m 36s,
6 Gwyndaf Evans/Hew Lewis (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) GpN 2h 22m 09s,
7 James Cullen/Reba Graham (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) GpN 2h 29m 42s,
8 P J McDermott/Sean Harris (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 30m 03s,
9 Wyn Humphreys/Ally McKay (Subaru Impreza) GpN 2h 30m 43s,
10 Robert Swann/Darren Garrod (Subaru Impreza) GpN 2h 30m 44s.

Group N Production class:
1 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh,
2 Gwyndaf Evans/Hew Lewis,
3 James Cullen/Reba Graham.

Class winners:
Steve Graham/Tony Graham (MG ZR),
Lorna Smith/Joanne Oakey (Suzuki Swift),
Andreas Sjolander/Hakan Jacobsson (Ford Fiesta ST),
Darren Gass/Neil Shanks (Citroen C2),
Toni Kelly/Joe Hunter (Honda Civic).

  Leaders After:
SS1 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS2-17 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)

Stage Winners
SS1 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS2 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS3 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS4 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS5 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS7 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS8 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS9 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS10 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS11 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS12 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS13 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS14 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS15 Cancelled
SS16 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS17 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS18 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS19 Paul Bird/Andy Richardson (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS20 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS21 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
SS22 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)

Full Results and Times on the Rally website
  • Entry lists available
  • BHRC preview, round five: Isle of Man Historic Rally
  • Revamped opening night adds to spectator appeal
  • Shakedown stage re-introduced
  • Swedish PWRC driver Per Svedlund enters Isle of Man
  • List of Entries to Date
  • Entries Open for RALLY ISLE OF MAN
    Shakedown stage on the Wednesday

Full Entry Lists on Event website:
Connor McCloskey and co driver Robbie Durant Had a tough decision to make ahead of this weekend’s Rally Isle of Man, round three of the British Rally Championship.

The event is on the same weekend as a round of the Mitsubishi Evolution Challenge which takes place in Swansea, making it impossible to contest both rallies. “We discussed this at the beginning of the season,” explained Connor, “as it was obvious there would be a clash. We decided that we would choose which event to contest depending on our position in the relevant championships. Unfortunately we’ve had a difficult season but as we aren’t fighting for position it made the decision easy.” He added, “The Manx is just one of those events you have to do and I love it. It hasn’t been particularly kind to us but we’ve hopefully got a new car coming and I’m really confident.”

The rally is based in Douglas and the Northern Irish youngster will have a chance to shake the new car down on Wednesday evening at a nearby test stage. “It is only a short blast but it will give me and Robbie the chance to familiarise ourselves with the new car. It is touch and go if it will be ready in time but whatever happens we will be pushing to improve our pace and get to the finish.”

The rally starts on Thursday evening with 165 miles of fast asphalt between them and the finish on Saturday afternoon. The start is on Douglas promenade and the centralised service is at the famous TT Grandstand above the Island’s capital.

Connor and the team would like to thank Egger (wood based panels), Euro Components, KBB Doors, Pirelli and Shell Racing Fuels for their continued support in 2007

After taking the Rally 3 class win and fifth place in the BRC’s Jim Clark Rally, Northern Irishman Darren Gass and his Scottish co-driver Neil Shanks had some extra practice in Belgium before this weekend’s Rally Isle of Man.

They set some excellent times their newly acquired CitroEC2 S1600 on the Belgian Ypres Westhoek Rally, even posting a couple inside the top twenty and impressed many with local knowledge. Despite several punctures Darren pronounced himself happy and ready for the third round of the British Rally Championship. “The rally was a great experience,” said Darren,” and it has given us more time on tarmac ready for the Manx lanes.”

Still the youngest driver in the series, Darren hopes the CitroEwill be better suited to the Isle of Man than last year’s Ford. Although his times were still impressive in 2006 until suspension damage forced the youngster out. “So far the car has been 100%.” he said, “I’m sure it is a better car but I’m also more comfortable in it and I think that counts for a lot. We managed to play with suspension settings in Belgium where there was less pressure than on the BRC events. There were more S1600 cars competing so it made us push harder which I hope will make the Isle of Man an easier event.”

Darren reckons there is more to come from the little CitroEC2 and he will get a chance to shake test the car on Wednesday on the official pre-event shakedown. The action starts on Thursday evening with the bulk of the stage mileage on Friday and Saturday. Start, finish and centralised service are at Douglas’s famous TT Grandstand with a prize giving and party on Saturday evening. 165 Stage Miles on some of the fastest asphalt in the world awaits the crew and they will be ready to tame the Manx tarmac on Thursday.

Darren would like to thank Quarryfix Ltd, Cheevers Chemists, Dalzells of Markethill, Haffey Plant Hire, Killycarn Sand & Gravel , EMC Autopax, AC Vehicle Components, Sligo Pallets, Castrol, ID Graphics (NI) and Crozier Motorsport Engineering for their support in 2007. You can check on the team’s progress at www.darrengass.com www.darrengass.com

The Mitsubishi Motors UK Rally Team will be back in action next week for round three of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship, the Rally Isle of Man, which takes place on 19th – 21st July.

After proving that its cars are currently the quickest in the British Championship by setting more fastest stage times than all of the other teams put together, the Mitsubishi team is eager to post a good result with both of its Lancer Evolution IXs on the Isle of Man.

Guy Wilks and his co-driver Phil Pugh could not have got off to a better start this season when they won the opening round – April’s Pirelli Rally. A month later, after leading round two - the Jim Clark Rally - for over half of the event, inconsistent weather conditions caught them out and they went off the road. Although they still recorded a strong fourth-place finish, their re-start under SupeRally regulations meant only one point scored in the driver’s championship.

Team mates Gwyndaf Evans and Huw Lewis have also headed the field during the first two rounds, but transmission issues have not allowed them the finishes they have deserved.

Both drivers have recently tested their Mitsubishis and each has been pleased with the set-up achieved in readiness for the demanding Manx roads.

Following his test Wilks said: “Gwyndaf had been testing the week before me, so the car was already set-up very well when I drove it. I really enjoy the stages on the Isle of Man and know most of them fairly well, but this will be the first time I have competed there in anything other than a front-wheel-drive car – but I won’t let that slow me down, that’s for sure.”

With unpredictable weather conditions a hallmark of the island, both Wilks and Evans are aware that having the right tyres at the right time plays a major part in the final outcome. However, Evans had the opportunity of testing in wet conditions last week which, added to his extensive experience of Manx rallies, he has an excellent chance of getting his title hopes back on track this time round:
“After the test I feel more comfortable with the car than I ever have. I’m now not worried about what the weather chooses to do, it’s just about making sure the car copes well with the island’s bumpy roads. I really hope my luck changes for this event and I can have an untroubled run, for both my sake and the team’s.” Having not scored as highly as they would have liked in the British Team’s Championship last time out, Mitsubishi are aware that it has to get both it’s cars home in high points scoring positions next week, as General Manager for Ralliart Paul Brigden explains:
“For Mitsubishi the Team’s Championship is just as important as the Driver’s championship is to Guy and Gwyndaf. Therefore, we need a solid performance on the Isle of Man to bring us back on track for both titles - and I know we can do it as our cars have consistently proved they can our perform the others.”

The Rally Isle of Man kicks off on Wednesday (18th) with a shake-down stage. The rally itself commences on Thursday evening with four stages, followed by another 11 on Friday and seven on Saturday, the total of which provides a competitive distance of 168 miles over the island’s closed public roads.

The Cirencester-based Mitsubishi Motors UK rally team is supported by HKS, Pirelli, Sparco, Speedline Corse, PIAA, Ricardo and Performance Friction Brakes. The team’s two Lancer Evolution IXs are built and run on events by ADR Motorsport of Chesterfield. Guy Wilks is supported by Mobil 1.

BHRC preview, round five: Isle of Man Historic Rally
Round five of the 2007 Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship is the toughest on the schedule as crews head for the Isle of Man for two and a half days of flat-out asphalt rallying (19-21 July).

The daunting closed roads of the island provide a massive test for man and machine and the Isle of Man Historic Rally marks the start of the second half of the BHRC season.

Current overall championship leaders – and 2006 winners - David Stokes and Guy Weaver will lead the field away from Douglas on Thursday evening, while the survivors will finally finish back in Douglas on Saturday afternoon after classic stages on the island roads.

Stokes and Weaver are having a superb season and already have four strong scores to their credit in their Ford Escort Mk1. Having recently reached his 60th birthday, Stokes is driving with commendable restraint as he mounts a very serious title bid. Now comes one of the toughest events of the year and if they can bag another strong finish in the post-historic category on the Isle of Man, they could tighten their grip on the title.

Currently chasing Stokes in the overall points is Jimmy McRae who, partnered by Andy Richardson, won the recent Mid Wales Stages in the Prepfab Ford Escort Mk2. However, McRae is switching to a category 2 Porsche 911 for the asphalt event and will be tough to beat on stages he knows so well. With McRae not running in category 3, the pacesetter could well be young Irish ace Martin McCormack. Partnered by Liam Moynihan in another Escort Mk2, Martin has been sensationally quick on his first events outside Ireland and will surely fly on the island, even though the stages will all be new to him.

Equally quick in his Mk2 will be Gareth Lloyd, co-driven by Ryland James. They were leading on the Mid Wales when they rolled, but the damage to their car was not enough to keep them away from this event. Other quick Escorts in category 3 include those of Dick Slaughter/Geoff Dearing and Martin Freestone/Michelle Calvert. As championship joint sponsor, through his holiday business in the Gambia, Freestone will want a strong result on his home rally.

Former BHRC champions Steven Smith and John Nichols will start second in their Porsche 911RS. It's been a pretty torrid season for them so far, so a good run on their favourite rally would be perfect for the XS Racing entry. However, 2007 pacesetter Richard Tuthill will also be in action in his 911RS and, partnered by John Bennie, is another contender for overall victory.

Ranged against Stokes in category 2 are more Escort Mk1s for Craig Salter/Graham Wride, Neil Parsons/Chris Parsons, Graham Samuel/Tony Phillips and Frank Cunningham/Arron Forde. Packing out the typically strong Porsche entry will be Peter Lythell/Gill Cotton and James Sutherland/Howard Pridmore.

Class C3 for the 2-litre cars could be headed by the Escort of Drew Wylie and Dean Beckett, while C2 for the 1600cc cars is shaping up to be a battle between Ken Forster/John Stanger-Leathes and Vince Bristow/Dean Mitchell. Forster missed the Mid Wales after a roll on the previous event, but is aiming to be back as quick as ever.

Patrick Watts/Elgan Davies, the 2006 BHRC champions, will set the pace among the category 1 cars (pre '68) in their mighty Sunbeam Tiger, but Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride are always quick on the Manx lanes and will really take the fight to the Tiger in their Porsche 911.

More category 1 Porsche 911s are in the hands of Philip Smith/Barbara Smith and Geoff Stewart/Bill Stevenson, while the very quick Lotus Cortinas of Philip Atkinson/Nicholas Kaighin and Jonathan Gale/Graham Gale will be right on the pace. Among the smaller cars, making a welcome return to the BHRC will be Matt Pearce and his father Dood in their Mini Cooper S. Matt is spending most of this year co-driving in the Ford Focus WRC of Michael O'Brien, but is wheeling his Mini out for this event.

Add in a gaggle of very quick crews from the Irish historic scene and the stage is set for another cracking Isle of Man Historic Rally. Half a dozen drivers have realistic hopes of victory, and several of them will not be overly concerned by the need to score championship points.
Following a successful yet fraught Donegal International Rally where Letterkenny Teenager Toni Kelly(18) and co-driver Joe Hunter finished a creditable 28th overall and 2nd in class despite having no clutch for most of Saturday and all of Sunday, the pair are now heading for the Isle of Man to compete in the Manx International Rally!

Having taken delivery of the New Honda Civic TypeR-R just before the Donegal International Toni used the event to test different set-ups on the suspension and different Engine Management settings and is is now hoping that she has the mix sorted for the trip to the Island. Toni stated "I would have liked more time before Donegal to do all the setting up but with my leaving cert I was very limited to time so we used the time we had to develop the car even further, the surface in the Isle of Man is a lot different to Ireland and no doubt we will be changing settings again but this is all part of rallying. I am really looking forward to getting back to the Isle of Man as we had a great time last year besides a few hiccups and hopefully we can bring back a trophy or two.

Toni and Joe are competing in the Global Group Irish Tarmac Championship and are currently in 3rd position in class after their result in Donegal and the pair are hoping for maximum points in the Isle of Man having dropped points in the Circuit of Ireland due to mechanical failure.

The event which is based in Douglas starts on the 19th July and takes the competitors through some fantastic stages including the town stage of Castletown where thousands of spectators gather to the famous stages that run on the same roads as the Isle of Man TT. It is set to be a fantastic event.

More Details:
Revamped opening night adds to spectator appeal
A revamped opening night of action is set to make Rally Isle of Man 2007 even more spectator friendly.

The organisers have made several innovations to take the event, which is supported by TOTAL, still closer to the public.

The first of those is the start of the high profile, three day international event. That will take place from a new venue on the seafront in Douglas, the islands capital.

From 6pm on Thursday 19th July the leading drivers will be on hand for an autograph session at the car park on Loch Promenade. That will give rally fans, families and particularly children the chance to meet the stars of the event just minutes before they head for the first stage.

Among those top names are expected to be local heroes Mark and David Higgins, plus last year’s winner Eugene Donnelly, teenage Norwegian sensation Andreas Mikkelsen and Swedish world championship driver Oscar Svedlund.

Then from 6.45pm, the drivers will take to the ramp for the ceremonial start of the event from the adjacent Sea Terminal complex.

From there they’ll head to the traditional Thursday night special stage through the streets of Castletown in the south of the island. Again here there are changes to add increased spectator value.

The crews have traditionally tackled the stage twice virtually since it was introduced in the mid-1980’s. This year though in addition to becoming the high profile first stage of the event an extra run is added. Crews will first take to the streets at 7.20pm and then they’ll return again just over an hour later to tackle it twice more in quick succession.

Add in the competitors from the Conister Trust Historic Rally, who’ll roar through the stage twice after the main international field, and it all adds up to an evening of non-stop action.

And there’s more…
…to give the drivers a new challenge on the unique test it will be run in the opposite direction to usual for the first time!

That means the stage will start at Castle Rushen School, then thread its way through the main square, past the castle, around the harbour and then onto the promenade to finish at historic landmark Hango Hill.

‘International rallying is always spectacular and we believe that this will offer the best possible package for spectators to enjoy the wonderful Rally Isle of Man event at its very best’, says Brian Walton, Chairman of the event. ‘We particularly hope that families will be attracted to come and see the sport, perhaps for the first time’.

Shakedown stage re-introduced
Before that opening evening’s entertainment, two important aspects of ‘rally week’ take place 24 hours earlier, on Wednesday 18th July.

From 7pm to 9pm the event re-introduces a ‘shakedown’ stage, an opportunity for drivers to finalise preparations for the rigours of the three day rally, renowned as one of the biggest challenges in the British Isles calendar.

Up until five years ago the event was unique as being the only British or Irish championship round to have a shakedown, a legacy of its 1990’s status as a top ranking round of the European Championship. It was removed in order to make for a more compact timetable for competitors, but they have now asked for it to return.

‘We always try to deliver an event that fits competitors needs’, says Event Director Richard Bargery, ‘and a shakedown is something that has been requested, so we’re happy to re-introduce it within the existing compact timetable.’

Immediately following ‘shakedown’ the pre-event BBQ will kick-start the social side of the rally. With free entry to all competitors and officials, it again takes place at the TT Grandstand in Douglas, which will be the Rally HQ and central service area throughout the week.

Swedish PWRC driver Per Svedlund enters Isle of Man
Per Svedlund and co-driver Bjorn Nilsson have entered this year's Isle of Man rally is to prepare for November’s Rally Ireland,

In addition to winning their home round of the PWRC in February, the pair have also shown their asphalt form with victory in Catalunya last year, as well as having a top three result on Wales RallyGB. They currently hold fifth place in the 2007 PWRC standings, and took outright victory on the recent Rally Poland, a WRC candidate event.

More details and list of entries to date on the event website:
Entries Open for RALLY ISLE OF MAN
Shakedown stage on the Wednesday

Entries have now opened for one of the highlights of the British Isles rally calendar, Rally Isle of Man, which takes place from Thursday 19th to Saturday 21st July 2007.

Formerly the Manx International Rally, it once again features as a high profile round of several major championships, including:
The Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship – Round 3
The Global Group Irish Tarmac Rally Championship – Round 6
The West Euro Cup – Round 5

The event enjoys welcomed continued support from TOTAL (Isle of Man) and largely retains the popular format of recent years.

New however for this year is a ‘shakedown’ stage, which will run on the evening of Wednesday 18th July. ‘We always try to deliver an event that fits competitors needs’, says Event Director Richard Bargery, ‘and a shakedown is something that has been requested, so we’re happy to re-introduce it within the existing compact timetable.’

Immediately following ‘shakedown’ the pre-event BBQ will kick-start the social side of the rally. With free entry to all competitors and officials, it again takes place at the TT Grandstand in Douglas, which will be the Rally HQ and central service area throughout the week.

Scrutineering and documentation will be held from Thursday morning with the rally itself firing into action at tea-time for the first 4 of 22 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 406 mile route, 168 of which are on stages.

The rally once again adopts ‘Super Rally’ rules, a feature highly appreciated by competitors that allows crews 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 Isle of Man stages, with the event particularly popular with the crews of the Isle of Man Historic Rally sponsored by Conister Trust.

This year Historic competitors will tackle 18 stages across the three days, and the event is again a qualifying round of:
The Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship - Incorporating the HRCR Historic Rally Challenge - Round 6
The Global Group Irish Tarmac Historic Rally Championship - Round 5

The return of the Silverstone Tyres Stars of the Future Championship is also warmly welcomed, with the Isle of Man Stars Rally featuring as a crucial double header round. Crews will tackle 12 stages on Friday and Saturday.

This event will also incorporate the Trophy Rally, which the organisers have worked hard to retain. The number of start places available for the Trophy Rally will depend upon the number of entries in the other events.

Entries for all events close on Friday 29th June, so act now and join us in July for the unique challenge that is Rally Isle of Man!

Regulations and entry forms can be downloaded from the event website

Topics: Rally Isle of Man 

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