The Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland returns to the South East of the country this weekend for the fourth round of the series, Carrick-on-Suir Motor Club’s Ravens Rock Rally. 2010 sees this classic event host a round of the Mitsubishi series for the first time and, with the leading three cars all Evolution Challenge entries, the event promises to be a high profile occasion for the Group N Lancer championship.
With the original number-one seed Craig Breen unable to start the event in his Ford Fiesta S2000, current Evolution Challenge series leaders Neil McCance and co-driver Jonny Hart head the 110-car field. After winning rounds one and two at the Circuit of Ireland on aggregate and then scoring a resounding victory in round three – which also netted his first ever overall victory in 21 years of rallying – McCance will be hoping for a repeat performance this weekend.
He and Hart are followed off the start ramp by John McGlaughlin/Crawford Henderson. Although having won the opening round in April, McGlaughlin/Henderson have had a frustrating time ever since, their car not performing as it should in rounds two and three due to a down-on-power engine. They are now aiming to put their title hopes back on track and give McCance/Hart a run for their money as have on a number of occasions before.
Making up the leading trio of Evos are Brendan Cumiskey/Conor Foley. After topping the Mitsubishi time sheets in round two and finishing second in round three, they now hold second place in the series and are another crew in with a chance of winning both the Evo Challenge and the overall event on Sunday.
Running a few cars behind on the road – and seeded in the top-ten – are Sam Moffat/James O’Reilly. Getting quicker all the time as they become more-and-more familiar with their Mitsubishi, they finished third in round three and are expected to be challenging for a podium position again this weekend.
Having missed round three, Stanley Ballantine/Donnacha O’Callaghan make a welcome return to the fold for this event. Always full of surprises, Ballantine and O’Callaghan are also expected to feature well in both the Evo Challenge and overall positions.
This year’s Ravens Rock Rally starts and finishes in Kilkenny and features a traditional Irish format of three stages run three times and a service halt after each loop. The rally starts at 9.00 am and, after covering 114 competitive kilometres over the nine special stages, finishes at 4.30 in the afternoon.
For the first time this season, the winner of the Evolution Challenge in each of the three countries it takes place, UK, Ireland and Sweden, will win the same prize: A supported drive in the FxPro Rally Cyprus, the final round of the IRC (Intercontinental Rally Challenge). Then, whichever of the three teams are first home on this event, will be crowned European Evolution Challenge Champions.
The 2010 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland is supported by: Mitsubishi Motors, Pirelli tyres, Sunoco fuels, JRM, Cyprus Automobile Association, Fairways Mitsubishi, Donnelly Group, James Foley Rallysport, Speedline Corse wheels, Murray Motorsport, CL brake pads, Sparco racewear, Pacenotes and PIAA lights – who sponsor the junior award for under 25-year old drivers.
Evolution Challenge entries
2 Neil McCance (Comber)/Jonny Hart (Carryduff)
3 John McGlaughlin (Cookstown)/Crawford Henderson (Magherafelt)
4 Brendan Cumiskey (Dundalk)/Conor Foley (Ballinode)
9 Sam Moffett (Monaghan)/ James O’Reilly (Monaghan)
10 Stanley Ballentine (Strabane)/Donnacha O’Callaghan (Mallow)