Rallye Sunseeker - 27-28 Feb 09

Posted: March 2, 2009 6:03 PM - 15676 Hits

Round 1 - 2009 MSA ANCRO Gravel Rally Championship
Round 1 - 2009 UK Evolution Challenge

  • Will Nicholls/Nick Broom win Sunseeker Rally 09


Barry/Brady win Evos in Bournemouth

Posted: March 2, 2009 6:03 PM

After a day-long battle in the opening round of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge, Daniel Barry from Eniskerry, together with his co-driver Martin Brady from Navan, blasted through the final stages of this weekend’s Bournemouth-based Rallye Sunseeker to snatch victory by just 2.8 seconds.

The first round of the Mitsubishi series also represented the opening round of the Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship and the event saw 80 cars in total line up at the start. For Daniel, this was the second outing in his new-for-this-year Evolution IX, having driven it to an excellent second place overall behind fellow Evo Challenge competitor Nik Elsmore in the recent Wyedean Rally.

The Rallye Sunseeker began with two runs of its popular spectator stage on Friday evening, which starts in the host town’s botanical gardens and then continues along the sea front. However, an earlier accident meant that these stages had to be abandoned and therefore, the competition for Daniel began on Saturday morning.

With 11 stages in forests to the north and west of Bournemouth ahead of him, Daniel was quick off the mark and set the fastest Evo Challenge times in the first two. However, what appeared to be an intermittent fault with his car’s anti-lag system (a device which keeps the turbo on boost) meant that his progress was slowed.

When teams arrived at the first service halt of the day, the 24-year old Irishman found himself in second place. But it was close – Elsmore was only 0.5 second ahead and championship newcomer Simon Hughes was just 0.9 seconds behind Daniel in third.

The next loop of five stages saw Elsmore’s pace drop away and Daniel was able to edge ahead on stage seven. But, as he admitted later, he had taken his eye off Hughes’ times and on stage nine the series debutant took the lead. Not to be outdone, Daniel fought back and, with just two stages to go, he regained his advantage.

But in rallying it’s never over until it’s over and in the final pair of stages following the final service halt, the earlier anti-lag problems re-emerged. Added to this, in his haste to make up for lost time he overshot a junction, making his final push for victory even harder.

As competitors crossed the finish line in Bournemouth’s town square, the timesheets revealed that Daniel had done enough and he not only claimed victory in the Evolution Challenge, but also won the Group N class and finished an impressive fourth overall.

"It's great to have won the first round of the Evo Challenge - and to finish so high up in the overall places”, said Daniel. “We had a great battle all day and it was very close at the end, although the problems in the final stages meant that it was it harder work than it should have been. However, it’s just the start we were looking for and there’s no doubt we have an exciting season ahead of us.”

Daniel and the Barry Motorsport team now turn their attentions to round two of the Evolution Challenge and Gravel Rally Championships, the Border Counties Rally, which takes place on 21st March in the infamous Kielder Forest.

Daniel’s 2009 campaign is supported by: Tech-Plus, Irish Shipping and Transport, BPI Telecom and SC Signs.


Posted: March 2, 2009 5:59 PM

Although not winning the event outright, Irishman Sean Devine took maximum points on the opening round of the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship after a concerted effort on Rallye Sunseeker.

Driving the ex Mikko Hirvonen Subaru WRC S11, the Ulsterman from Strabane and co-driver Francis Regan showed no ill effects from not competing on gravel since last September to claim third place overall on the Bournemouth-based event.

Following Devine home in fourth place overall was the first of the Mitsubishi Evo Challenge drivers Dan Barry who overcame late problems along with co-driver Martin Brady, and Welshman Simon Hughes claimed third place ANCRO points on his debut on the event along with co-driver Patrick Walsh. They edged out the local crew of Anthony Willmington and co-driver Andrew White who were making a welcome return in their Mitsubishi Evo 6.

Swede Andreas Magnusson, West Country driver Nik Elsmore and Yorkshireman Charlie Payne were next up ahead of Alan Cookson, Owen Murphy and Alan Carmichael.

Following on from last night's drama which saw Geoff Underhill and Adrian Grinsted crash out in their Subaru, three of the main Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship contenders never saw the finish ramp either.

Defending champions Marcus Dodd and Andrew Bargery were blazing a trail at the front in their Hyundai Accent WRC when cambelt failure forced them out on SS6.

2004 Champion Steve Perez along with co-driver Paul Spooner retired their Ford Focus WRC 07 on only the third stage of the day after heading into a ditch.

The third of the former champions to go out was Paul Bird and co-driver Ian Windress in the newly acquired Ford Focus WRC, when an electrical problem forced them out on SS10 when leading.

The rally was won by local driver Will Nicholls who, along with co-driver Nick Broom, took a debut victory on the event in their Subaru with former ANCRO Champions Roger Duckworth and Mark Broomfield second in their Subaru but neither were eligible for points due to not being registered in the Championship.

The battle now moves on to Kielder Forest in three weeks' time with the Brick and Steel Border Counties Rally and with Devine unsure as to his participation, and the 'Big Three' looking to make amends, it is expected to be a great battle as the Championship hots up.

Barry/Brady battles through to win Evo Challenge opener

Posted: March 2, 2009 4:38 PM

Daniel Barry and co-driver Martin Brady got their bid for the 2009 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge title off to a flying start when they won this weekend’s opening round on the Bournemouth-based Rallye Sunseeker, finishing just 2.8 seconds ahead of series newcomer Simon Hughes, who was accompanied by 2007 Champion co-driver Patrick Walsh.

Since it first started on this same rally in 2001, the Evolution Challenge as earned itself a reputation of being one of the most competitive rally championships in the UK – and this year’s round one did not disappoint. Ten Evo Challenge crews started the event, which although is less than the championship is used to, did not detract from the intensity of competition, with just a few seconds separating the front-runners all day and the lead changing five times.

Making things even more interesting was the appearance of drivers from outside the UK and Ireland. These included 2008 Swedish Evo Challenge Champion Andreas Magnusson and runner-up Hans Erik-Weng, plus the re-appearance of Icelandic Rally Champion Daniel Sigurdarson and Barbados driver Neil Armstrong.

As is traditional with the Rallye Sunseeker, the event began with two runs through the host town’s botanical gardens and along the sea front. However, an accident meant that these popular spectator stages had to be abandoned and therefore, the competition began in earnest on Saturday morning.

The day was to feature 11 stages in Ringwood and Wareham Forests and first to set the pace was Barry. However, an intermittent problem with the car’s anti-lag system saw him lose time during the first four stages and, when crews arrived at the first service halt, time sheets showed Nik Elsmore in the lead, albeit just half a second ahead of Barry.

Only a further 0.9 seconds back was Hughes, who was making an impressive Evo Challenge debut. Magnusson was next and admitted he was off to steady start, having not driven his Evo since the final round of the Swedish series in September. Switching from the Irish series to the UK for this season, Owen Murphy was in fifth, but hampered by a car that was handling as if it were rear-wheel rather than four-wheel drive.

Next was Weng, who also stared cautiously, this being the first event in his brand new Evo X – and the first time Mitsubishi’s latest version of the Lancer had been seen rallying in the UK. Another ex-Irish Evo Challenge front-runner Alan Carmichael was disappointed to find himself seventh, but knew that most of his time had been lost when his intercom had failed during the morning’s stages.

Armstrong was eighth of the Evo runners at this point and was clearly enjoying his first ever rally on British soil – albeit quite different to the conditions he is used to when rallying in the Caribbean.

More unfortunate was Evo Challenge regular Jonathan Sparks, who retired after exceeding his maximum lateness during the road section on the way to service. But by far the worst luck of the day was reserved for Sigurdarson, when his car’s rear differential broke just a few 100 yards into the first stage of the day.

Four of the next loop of five stages took place in Wareham Forest and saw Elsmore drop back, last year’s runner-up putting his loss of pace down to pushing too hard on what was a softer surface. Seeing his rival’s speed reduce, Barry edged ahead on stage seven, but admitted he had taken his eye off Hughes’ times and on stage nine the series debutant took the lead.

Surprised not to be in front Barry fought back, but a repeat of the earlier anti-lag issues - plus an overshoot - in the final two stages meant that it was a neck-and-neck battle to the finish between him and Hughes. Just behind the leading pair a fight was also going on for third. Magnusson had now found his feet and was flying, recording the fastest Evo Challenge times in both SS12 and SS13, which was enough to nudge him ahead of Elsmore by 4.4 seconds.

Murphy was fifth, still having to cope with a car that went sideways at every opportunity, which did little to help his progress, but a lot to entertain the spectators. Carmichael got quicker as the day progressed, but could not make up for the lost time in the morning, whilst Armstrong was seventh and delighted to get to the finish, reporting he had thoroughly enjoyed his new experience.

In contrast it was disappointment for Weng when his new car’s turbo lost it’s boost in the final stage and, not wanting to do any more damage, he decided to stop rather than try to make it to the finish. However, his team was delighted with the potential the Evo X showed.

"It's great to have won the first round of the Evo Challenge - and to finish fourth overall”, said Barry. “We had a great battle all day and it was very close at the end, although the problems with the anti-lag system made it harder work than it should have been. However, it’s just the start we were looking for and there’s no doubt we have an exciting season ahead of us.”

From an initial field of 80 cars, the overall results saw four Evo Challenge competitors finish in the top ten and the first six home were also the first six Group N runners. The Evolution Challenge now moves north for round two, the Border Counties Rally, which takes place in Kielder Forest on 21st March.

The 2009 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge is supported by Mitsubishi Motors UK, Ralliart, Pirelli tyres, Sunoco fuels, JR Motorsports, Speedline Corse wheels, Carbone Lorraine brakes, Walkinshaw Performance, Sparco racewear and PIAA lights - who sponsor the junior award for under 25-year old drivers.

Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Round 1 – Results
1  Daniel Barry (Enniskerry)/Martin Brady (Navan)  58:43.0
2  Simon Hughes (Abergle) /Patrick Walsh (Aberystwyth)  58:45.8
3  Andreas Magnusson (Sweden)/Henrik Hulterskog (Sweden) 58:57.8
4  Nik Elsmore (Coleford)/ Craig Drew (Bream) 59:02.2
5  Owen Murphy (Cork)/Dai Roberts (Carmarthen) 1:00:01.9
6  Alan Carmichael(Ballymena)/Ivor Lamont (Ballymena) 1:00:52.6
7  Neil Armstrong (Barbados)/Max Ferri (Barbados) 1:03:36.8

SS3   Daniel Sigurdarson (Iceland)/Isak Gudjonsson (Iceland) Transmission
SS6   Johnathan Sparks (Glastonbury)/Chris Davies (Abergavenny) OTL
SS13 Hans-Erik Weng (Sweden)/Roger Gunnarsson (Sweden) Turbo


Posted: March 2, 2009 3:56 PM

Double Barbados Rally Club (BRC) Group N Champion Neil Armstrong and Rally Barbados 2005 winning co-driver Max Ferri finished 17th overall and ninth in Group N on Rallye Sunseeker, the opening round of the UK's Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship, which finished in the English south coast resort of Bournemouth yesterday (February 28).

  Shortly before driving over the finish ramp, Armstrong said: "I can't even begin to explain the experience. Its like my first rally again, a whole completely new experience." Driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII, prepared by North Yorkshire-based MSR Motorsport and carrying Sol Rally Barbados 2009 livery, Armstrong had faced a multi-national class of Group N drivers from England, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and Wales on his first-ever rally in Europe.

  Rallye Sunseeker is the only mixed-surface round of the Pirelli Championship, with two Friday evening 1.6-mile tarmac SuperSpecials in the centre of Bournemouth, where it has been based for the past 24 years; the organisers were forced to abandon these stages before they were completed after a major incident in which a Subaru Impreza WRC struck an electricity pole, resulting in damage that could not be repaired easily.

  Armstrong was classified 24th overnight - those crews which had not passed through both SuperSpecial stages were given notional times so, for many, the rally only really began on Saturday morning. The schedule covered 11 stages in the nearby Ringwood and Wareham forests, plus Somerley Park, home of Event Patron Lord Normanton, where an all-day Motorfair attracted thousands of spectators and featured a display of MG Metro 6R4s, marking the 25th Anniversary of the iconic Group B car's launch.

  As the day progressed, Armstrong worked his way slowly up the order, in part through the problems experienced by his competitors, in part through his own determination. He earned the cheers of the Motorfair crowd on stage six, when he demolished the wall of straw bales at the popular ninety-right in front of Somerley House, by which time he had progressed to 22nd overall.

  Among his ambitions was to finish higher than the same car had achieved in 2008, when Miles Johnston finished 19th; by the second service, mid-afternoon on Saturday, he had matched that position, and that was how it seemed set to stay. A big effort on the final stage of the day, when he was 16th fastest overall, his best of the weekend, promoted him two slots up the order to 17th.

  Describing the experience, Armstrong said: "I can compare rallying in Barbados to track racing - you know the roads, you know what you're doing, you just drive it without notes. This is a whole different skill altogether. I need to come back and do some more."

  Of his co-driver Ferri, who won Rally Barbados 2003 alongside Roger Mayers, Armstrong said: "He was amazing, hasn't called a wrong note all weekend; if it wasn't for him, I'd still be knocking around somewhere in Ringwood."

  From the other side of the car, Ferri noted: "It was brilliant, we had a fantastic time, the stages are amazing, it's a fantastic experience. Neil drove perfectly, he's definitely a gravel expert for sure."

  Group N and the opening round of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evo Challenge was won by Ireland's Daniel Barry and Martin Brady (Evo IX) in a time of 58 minutes 43 seconds;
Armstrong's time was 63m 36.8s. The overall winners were Will Nicholls and Nick Broom (Subaru Impreza WRC) in a time of 56m 14.0s.

  Two of the most enthusiastic supporters of Rally Barbados, Steve Perez and Paul Bird, were also locked in battle in Bournemouth, each equipped with a 2007 version of the Ford Focus World Rally Car. Despite the machinery at hand, however, neither of the former National Champions (Perez in 2004, Bird in 2005) would prevail - Perez retired when he ran off the road and could not rejoin, while Bird suffered an electrical failure following a heavy landing a few stages later.

  Sol Rally Barbados 2009 (May 29-31) and Shell V-Power King of the Hill (May 23) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; title sponsor is the Sol Group, the Caribbean's largest independent oil company, and both events are rounds of the Virgin Atlantic BRC Driver's Championship. Associate sponsors include the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association.


Posted: March 2, 2009 3:27 PM

Kick Energy Rally driver Steve Perez saw his hopes of a decent points haul in the opening round of the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship disappear when he was forced to retire from Rallye Sunseeker today.

Driving the recently acquired ex Marcus Gronholm Ford Focus WRC 07, the Chesterfield businessman and welsh co-driver Paul Spooner were holding second place behind defending champion Marcus Dodd in the early stages when he retired on the morning's third stage.

Halfway in the long Ringwood stage Perez slid wide at a hairpin and in an attempt to rectify the situation used a nearby earth bank to try to continue.

Normally the incident would have cost a few seconds at most but the softly constructed bank caused the car's wheels to drop into a ditch and with no help on hand, he was left stranded.

"I'm obviously disappointed and I have a good record on Rallye Sunseeker and I really felt I could challenge for victory this year having never won the event. It was so innocuous but these things happen and I can only take consolation in the fact that my other two title rivals, Paul Bird and Marcus Dodd, also retired. I think it may be a fairly quiet night in Bournemouth tonight!" said Perez.

Perez aims to make amends next weekend when he tackles the Malcolm Wilson Rally based in the Lake District.


Posted: March 2, 2009 3:26 PM

2005 National Rally Champion Paul Bird's bid to regain the Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship got off to the worst possible start when he retired from the opening round on Rallye Sunseeker.

Driving the brand new www.supercasino.com Ford Focus WRC, the Penrith driver and co-driver Ian Windress from Northallerton were gradually getting to grips with the car and were leading at half distance when on the short tenth stage, a heavy landing near the end of the stage caused the car to cut out.

With the aid of spectators the car was pushed the 200m to the finish line but by the time the problem in the wiring loom was traced and fixed, they were out of time so had no option but to retire.

The only consolation for Bird was that his two main rivals Marcus Dodd and Steve Perez also retired meaning there is all to play for in the next round of the Championship with the Brick and Steel Border Counties Rally based in Jedburgh on March 20th/21st.

In the meantime Bird will contest the Malcolm Wilson Rally next weekend in his native Lake District hoping for better luck.

"Despite it being the first time I've driven the car I was delighted with my pace and was taking quite a lot of time out of the other drivers. But then we hit this bump, the car cut out and I coasted to a halt. I reckon it was looking good and I was increasing my lead so obviously I'm devastated, so I'll just have to make amends next weekend by winning the Malcolm Wilson Rally." said Bird.


Posted: March 2, 2009 3:25 PM


Posted: March 2, 2009 3:21 PM

Overall Result
1, Will Nicholls/Nick Broom - Subaru Impreza WRC- 56:14.0 2, Roger Duckworth/Mark Broomfield - Subaru Impreza WRC - 56:36.7 3, Sean Devine/Francis Regan - Subaru Impreza WRC - 58:05.2 4, Daniel Barry/Martin Brady - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 GpN - 58:43.0 5, Simon Hughes/Patrick Walsh - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 GpN - 58:45.8 6, Anthony Willmington/Andrew White - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 - 58:52.9 7, Andreas Magnusson/Henrik Hulterskog - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 GpN - 58:57.8 8, Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 GpN - 59:02.2 9, Charlie Payne/Craig Thorley - Mitsubishi Lancer WRC - 59:02.9 10, Alan Cookson/Julian Wilkinson - Subaru - 59:30.5

Owen Murphy is ready for the loose .

Posted: February 27, 2009 6:48 PM

Owen Murphy and Dai Roberts will commence their Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge UK on the Sunseeker rally in Bournemouth on the weekend of March 1st with last years car having been sold.

Owen and Dai will use a West Midlands supplied and built Evo 9. Painted in the familiar yellow that has become Owens trademark for the last 2 years.
The car will again be sponsored by O Flynn construction with support from Nyhan Motors, O Brien Crowley, Murray Motorsport, and Sunoco fuels.

Having competed in the Irish Evo challenge last year Owen is returning the forests of the UK for the first round of the Uk Evo Challenge.

Owen may be a bit rusty in the wood but anyone who saw his pace on a one off event the Cork Forestry Rally the only loose event Owen contested in 2008 showed he has real pace in the wood,Owen was second overall on the event beaten only by Ray Breen in his WRC Focus. This was a fantastic result in a hired car from SP Motorsport and considering the first time Owen saw the car was the morning of the rally and with a new co driver the result was even more astounding first in GpN and second overall.

Owen said this is a new year a fresh start a new car and I am really looking forward to going back into the wood thats where the real driving is,I am feeling good going to the gym a few nights a week and just going to take things calm on the first few events.I tested the car last week at sweet lamb rally complex and it feels good i am confident of a good result the weekend.

Owen is looking forward to the Sunseeker having competed previously here in his 206 super cup car in the past.

Owen Murphy's new EVO 9

Photo - Steve Perez Focus

Posted: February 27, 2009 6:46 PM

Steve Perez's new Ford Focus WRC
Photo: M-Sport

M-Sport Focuses on national rallying success

Posted: February 27, 2009 2:08 PM

The title-winning Ford Focus WRC will be at the forefront of the battle for the 2009 ANCRO rally championship.  

The ANCRO season starts on February 27/28 with the Bournemouth-based Rally Sunseeker and one of the leading title contenders who will open his campaign at the event is Steve Perez in his Kick Energy liveried vehicle.  He will contest the series using the last rally car that double world champion Marcus Grönholm drove in the FIA World Rally Championship.  

The car - which won back-to-back Manufacturer titles in the WRC – has been developed by M-Sport, the Cumbrian firm that has masterminded Ford’s assault on the WRC since 1997.  

Perez will renew his rivalry at Rally Sunseeker with long-time friend Paul Bird – who will also contest the rally in an M-Sport prepared Focus WRC.  The drivers have tested their vehicles in the build up to the event in a bid to gain an edge in the forthcoming battle, and both will be keen to ensure they are the one who comes out on top on the final day of the rally.  

With two of the biggest names in the ANCRO championship opting to run in M-Sport prepared vehicles it has underlined the status of the Focus as the car of choice for top-level national rally competitors in the UK and Ireland.  Among those to have demonstrated its prowess are the McHale family from Dublin, with Austin, Gareth and Aaron all successfully campaigning Focus WRCs over the last few years and Hugh Hunter who claimed overall honours in the 2008 BTRDA Rally series.  

The combination of the tried-and-tested Ford machine – with its proven pace, sharp handling and outstanding reliability record – and the cost-effective support package offered by M-Sport have all contributed to its popularity among those seeking success on the stages.

Evo Challenge gets set for ninth consecutive season

Posted: February 27, 2009 2:07 PM

The first round of the 2009 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge kicks off today with its now traditional season-opener at the Bournemouth-based Rallye Sunseeker.

Once again, the official series for homologated Group N Lancer Evolutions has attracted a high-quality entry and, in true Evolution Challenge fashion, it is going to be difficult to predict a winner.

This year sees ten crews line up for the start which, in comparison with other years, is a reduction in entries – a factor in no doubt due to the current economic climate. However, for 2009 there’s a twist to the proceedings, with over half the drivers coming from overseas.

First off the line is last year’s runner up Nik Elsmore, who will be starting his sixth full season with the series and is one of the favourites to take the title. Right behind him is young Irish charger Daniel Barry, who has the pace to win events and will now also be looking for consistency in his newly built Evo IX.

Third in line is series newcomer Simon Hughes, who is another driver to watch, but admits he is still getting used to his Mitsubishi in his first full-season of four-wheel-drive. He is followed by another quick young Irishman Owen Murphy, who proved his pace on asphalt last year by being a front-runner in the Irish Evo Challenge and now turns his attentions to gravel.

The next two entries are from Sweden: Andreas Magnusson, who won the 2008 Swedish Evo Challenge and was awarded a free entry to the Rallye Sunseeker and Hans-Erik Weng. Having finished just behind Magnuson in his home series, Weng was also keen to experience UK rallying for the first time and is looking forward to debuting his Evo X – the first time Mitsubishi’s new Lancer will be seen in competition in Britain.

Having contested the UK Evo Challenge in 2007 and then being a leading light in the Irish version in 2008, Ulsterman Alan Carmichael returns to the British series for 2009, determined to put his experience and recent top form to good use.

Another Evo Challenge returnee is the charismatic Icelandic Rally Champion Daniel Sigurdarson, who has vowed to show just what he is capable of this weekend. He is followed by a driver who has travelled even further to be part of the Evolution Challenge, Neil Armstrong from Barbados. 

Challenge regular Jonathan Sparks sets off on his fourth consecutive season in the Mitsubishi Championship and hopes that his knowledge of the events and experience in the series will stand him in good stead this season.

The Rally Sunseeker gets underway at 7.00 pm tonight, when the 80-car field tackles the two spectacular night-time stages from the centre of Bournemouth, through the botanical gardens and along the sea front road.

Saturday sees a further 11 timed special stages, all of which take place on gravel roads in the forests around Ringwood, Verwood and Wareham. The event finishes back in Bournemouth town centre at 6.00pm.

The 2009 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge is supported by Mitsubishi Motors UK, Ralliart, Pirelli tyres, Sunoco fuels, JR Motorsports, Speedline Corse wheels, Carbone Lorraine brakes, Walkinshaw Performance, Sparco racewear and PIAA lights - who sponsor the junior award for under 25-year old drivers.

Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge entries
(in start number order)
9    Nik Elsmore (Coleford)/ Craig Drew (Bream)
10  Daniel Barry (Enniskerry)/Martin Brady (Navan)
12  Simon Hughes (Abergle) /Patrick Walsh (Aberystwyth)
17  Owen Murphy (Cork)/Dai Roberts (Carmarthen)           
21  Andreas Magnusson (Skeppshult, Sweden)/Henrik Hulterskog (Stensjön, Sweden)
22  Hans-Erik Weng (Säffle, Sweden)/Roger Gunnarsson (Sweden)
24  Alan Carmichael(Ballymena)/Ivor Lamont (Ballymena)
33  Daniel Sigurdarson (Iceland)/Isak Gudjonsson (Iceland)
35  Neil Armstrong (Barbados)/Max Ferri (Barbados)
36  Johnathan Sparks (Glastonbury)/Chris Davies (Abergavenny)

Barry / Brady well prepared for the season ahead

Posted: February 23, 2009 3:47 PM

Eniskerry rally driver Daniel Barry could not be better prepared for the start of his 2009 rally campaign, when he contests the highly competitive Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge which kicks off in Bournemouth on Friday 27th February.

During the winter, Daniel and his team built a brand new Group N (production specification) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, to replace his similar but older car from last year. Wanting to give it a shake-down before the first round of the Evo Challenge, Daniel and co-driver Martin Brady from Navan got off to a near perfect start, when they finished an impressive second overall on the recent Wyedean Rally.

Taking place in the Forest of Dean on 7th February, the event was almost cancelled due to the heavy snow-fall the week before. Therefore, not wanting to be caught out by the conditions, Daniel opted to run on special ice and snow tyres, which even without studs, proved to be ideal for the conditions.

However, it was no easy drive, as one mistake on the ice could spell immediate retirement. Adopting a cautious approach and, with a lot of side-ways progress, Daniel and Martin made it through the stages unscathed and were delighted, if not relieved, to get to the finish ahead of many of the far more powerful cars.

“Even though we had the best tyres for the job, it was still extremely slippery”, said Daniel. “However, we were able to get grip where others didn’t and it was a case of going as fast as we could when the conditions allowed. Second overall was a great way to start the season and I’m also pleased that the new car ran perfectly throughout the event – and I really must thank the team for that.”

So, armed with his new Mitsubishi and a podium finish already behind him, Daniel gets set for what will be his third season in the Evolution Challenge and starts as one of the favourites. If he wins, he will be awarded a brand new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, which can subsequently be exchanged towards a supported drive in the 2010 British Rally Championship.

The first round of the high-profile series for Group N Mitsubishis starts with two night-time stages along Bournemouth sea front on Friday evening, followed by a full-day of rallying in the forests north of the town.

Daniel’s 2009 campaign is supported by: Tech-Plus, Irish Shipping and Transport, BPI Telecom and SC Signs.


Posted: February 22, 2009 10:51 PM

The eagerly anticipated battle for the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship gets underway next weekend when crews from all over the UK converge on the seaside resort of Bournemouth for the annual ANCRO season opener as the 24th annual Rallye Sunseeker bursts into life.

Six-times event winner and very much the local hero Marcus Dodd from nearby Poole along with co-driver Andrew Bargery from just down the coast at Hove, are looking to defend their title once again in their Hyundai Accent WRC and whilst the pair will start the Southern Car Club and Croydon & DMC organised event as favourites, there is the usual class entry following Dodd away from the start in Bournemouth on Friday evening.

Whereas Dodd is the reigning Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Champion having landed the crown four times in total, he faces stiff opposition as heading the challenge will be three former champions who are making a welcome return to the fold.

Roger Duckworth took the honours in 1998 and he's back for another crack at the title in his venerable Subaru and having missed last year due to injury, 2004 winner Steve Perez has a latest version Ford Focus WRC at his disposal. Paul Bird sat out most of last year but the flamboyant chicken farmer is back for a full season this year in his Subaru and hoping to reclaim the title he last won in 2005.

The rivalry between Perez and Bird is legendary in recent Rallye Sunseeker history - the loser traditionally pays for Saturday night out - but they, as well as Dodd and Duckworth, will be having to look to their rear view mirrors with the likes of Will Nicholls (Subaru WRC), Charlie Payne (Mitsubishi WRC) and Steve Hendy (Ford Focus WRC) as well as the Subarus of Irishman Sean Devine and West Countryman Alan Cookson.

Once again, the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge kicks off in Bournemouth with a host of drivers intent on emulating David Bogie's 2008 success. England's Nik Elsmore and Simon Hughes as well as Irishman Daniel Barry lead the field as all the contenders set out on the long road to success.

Other drivers who could make a splash on the two day event include Peter Egerton (Hyundai), Geoff Underhill (Subaru) and Melis Charalambous (Skoda Octavia WRC) plus there's a pair of iconic MG Metro 6R4s competing in the hands of Stuart Larbey and Richard Smith who take part in the festivities that aim to traditionally celebrate the legendary marque on Rallye Sunseeker.

The international flavour is represented by a trio of Icelandic visitors in the shape of Andreas Magnusson, Hans-Erik Wung and Daniel Sigurdarson whereas Barbados driver Neil Armstrong will be behind the wheel of another Mitsubishi as part of a Rally Barbados promotion.

In the Mintex Two Wheel Drive Championship, the likes of Tom Walster (Renault Clio), Tony Jardine (Ford Fiesta) and Rod Bennett (Fiat Stilo) will be battling it out and as well as the main field, there are a dozen spectacular Land Rovers set to entertain the huge crowds expected on the South coast.

Throw in the cosmopolitan mix of 71-years-young veteran Harry Dodd (Hyundai Accent WRC), fast lady Shelley Taunt (Subaru) and Doctors Simon Dowdeswell and Keiron Bhargavar (Land Rover) and the scene is set for a typically exciting curtain raiser to the National rally scene.

The event gets underway from Canford Arena at 18.25hrs on the Friday with crews tackling the Bournemouth seafront stage twice in reverse order from 19.00hrs before the event proper starts on Saturday morning with the traditional loops around the forests and stately homes of Ringwood and Wareham.


Posted: February 22, 2009 10:49 PM

As his riders are lining up on the grid for the opening round of the World Superbike Championship, team owner Paul Bird hopes to have already sampled the winner's champagne himself.

The Penrith driver won't be making the trip to Australia with his team; instead he'll be contesting the opening round of the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship which gets underway with Rallye Sunseeker in Bournemouth on Friday evening (February 27th).

Driving his Subaru WRC with Northallerton's Ian Windress as co-driver, the pair are hoping to reclaim the title they last won in 2005 and have their sights firmly set on winning the rally.

Traditionally fastest on Friday night's town centre and seafront stages, Bird will have to see off some of the UK's top drivers in the forests around Ringwood and Wareham on Saturday if he's to pull off his inaugural win on the event.

One of the main threats to Bird will be his friend and sponsor, Steve Perez of Kick Energy, who has just taken delivery of a latest version Ford Focus WRC and the pair's traditional rivalry will be in evidence with once again, the loser having to pay for the other team's post rally party so there's much more than pride and honour at stake!

"I've been away from the sport for a couple of years as we strove to make our Superbike team more competitive and now we are doing that, I can spend a bit more time having a play in my car. Steve's gone out and bought himself a new car to try and beat me but he's going to have to go some to match my ageing Subaru! I'll be in touch with the boys in Australia throughout the weekend and I've told them that if the boss can bring the champagne home, I'm expecting them to also!"

Entry List

Posted: February 15, 2009 9:42 AM

Armstrong to promote Sol Rally Barbados

Posted: February 12, 2009 10:27 AM

Neil Armstrong, one of the rising stars of rallying in the island, is joining forces with the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) to promote its premier event, Sol Rally Barbados 2009, in the UK; the hat-trick BRC Group Champion is entered for the opening round of the Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship, Rallye Sunseeker 2009 (February 27/28), based in the English south coast resort of Bournemouth.

Driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII, prepared by North Yorkshire- based MSR Motorsport, Armstrong will represent the island against a multi-national cross-section of Group N drivers from England, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and Wales, many of whom are competing in the ninth year of the UK's Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge, targetting the year-end prize of a new Evo X.

Armstrong's car will carry Sol RB09 livery, as part of the BRC's extended programme of promotion, while his management team for the event will include Ryan Champion; winner of Group N on Sol RB08, Champion has a long-standing relationship with MSR, with whom he won the Evo Challenge in 2005, so Armstrong is in good hands.

It is not only 27-year-old Armstrong's first rally in the UK, but also his first trip to Europe, although he has done his homework: "I've been checking the area out on Google Earth, and I've downloaded every bit of in-car footage I could find on YouTube, so I think I'm reasonably well-prepared. I just need to get into the car as soon as I can."

Armstrong's co-driver will be fellow-countryman Max Ferri, who currently lives in England; an accomplished co-driver, he is a former winner of Rally Barbados, having sat alongside Roger Mayers in his Ford Focus in 2005. Ferri, who has also played a pivotal role in rally timing in Barbados, is looking forward to the experience: "I've never rallied outside the island, so it's a first for me, too! I think it should be a great experience."

Rallye Sunseeker is the first of eight rounds of the Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship, organised by ANCRO, the Association of National Championship Rally Organisers; the biggest event of its type in the south of England, it is recognised as one of the UK's best- organised and promoted rallies and presents an ideal opportunity for the BRC to promote Sol Rally Barbados to both potential competitors and spectators, not least because two of the event's most enthusiastic supporters, Steve Perez and Paul Bird, will be on hand to help. Both are former ANCRO Champions (Perez in 2004, Bird in 2005), but neither has yet won in Bournemouth, something each is hoping to change.

The event is the only mixed-surface round of the ANCRO Championship, with two short floodlit tarmac stages in the centre of Bournemouth on Friday evening, which attract thousands of spectators; on Saturday, there are 11 stages in the nearby Ringwood and Wareham forests, plus Somerley Park, where an all-day Motorfair will feature a display of MG Metro 6R4s, marking the 25th Anniversary of the iconic Group B car's launch.

Since his debut in a front-wheel-drive Toyota Starlet in 2002, Armstrong has earned the respect of Barbados fans with his press-on driving style; he won the local Modified 6 category in Rally Barbados 2004, and was lying in the top 10, harassing some much more powerful machinery, two years later when he was removed from the event, and the Starlet severely damaged, following an accident on a road section.

The Starlet was replaced with a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, Armstrong's first experience in competition of four-wheel-drive; he quickly put his stamp on the production category, with Group N wins in Rally Jamaica 2006 and Rally Barbados 2007, also winning Group N in the BRC's Driver's Championship in both years.

The Evo was upgraded to Group A spec for 2008, but teething problems in the early part of the season threatened his continued success; despite that, with backing from Shell V-Power, he went on to claim a Group title for the third consecutive year, winning the Club's M8-A category with his regular local co-driver, Barry Ward.

List of Entries to date:

Posted: January 27, 2009 12:16 PM

Regulations and Details

Posted: January 13, 2009 4:43 PM

Event Website:

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