Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland – Round 3 Report


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Lord Bagenal Hotel Stages Rally – 9th May 2010
Neil McCance wins Evo Challenge and takes overall event victory.
Brendan Cumiskey claims second with Sam Moffett third.

Engine problems force John McGlaughlin into early exit.Neil McCance and co-driver Jonny Hart recorded a double-victory this weekend on the Carlow-based Lord Bagenal Hotel Stages, by not only winning round three of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland, but also winning the event overall – the first time McCance has achieved an outright victory in 21 years of competing. Brendan Cumiskey/Conor Foley claimed second in the Evo Challenge, with Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly third, both finishing in the top-ten overall.

The event comprised eight stages on closed roads south of the host town of Leighlinbridge. A loop of three stages were held before the first service halt and then the same three were repeated before the second with a final loop of two before the finish.

Although just four of the eight crews registered for the Mitsubishi series had entered this one-day event – others unable to compete due to a variety of commitments – Evolution Challenge officials were delighted that rally organisers had seeded them all at the front of the 114 car field.

Dry and sunny conditions greeted crews for the start in Leighlinbridge, the first car away that of John McGlaughlin/Crawford Henderson. However, their place at the front of the field was short-lived, when – on the very first stage – they felt the car handling strangely, the fault traced to a detached plug in the wiring for the diff control.

In contrast, McCance/Hart were flying and posted a time 13 seconds quicker to lead the Evolution Challenge charge and the overall event.  With their car back to 100% for SS2 McGlaughlin/Henderson exited the stage in equal second place with Cumiskey/Foley, but on SS3 things became decidedly worse, when McGlaughlin felt his car rapidly looking power before the engine stopped completely towards the end of the stage.

Although unsure as to the cause, he and Henderson managed to get going again and nurse the car back to the service area. However, the team were unable to rectify the problem and therefore had no choice but to retire.

After the first loop McCance/Hart had extended their Evo Challenge lead to 52 seconds, while Cumiskey/Foley were 37 seconds ahead of Moffett/O’Reilly who were getting to know their new car, Moffett only taking delivery of his replacement Evo IX the evening before the rally.

The second loop of three stages saw the leaders extend their lead further, leaving Cumiskey/Foley and Moffett/O’Reilly swapping stage time behind them. However, in the battle for overall positions the array of Mk II Escorts that followed McCance/Hart were beginning to chip away at the Mitsubishi crew’s advantage and, when crews came into the second service halt, time sheets showed their lead in the Evo Challenge was now nearly two minutes and 23 seconds in the overall event.

With just two stages to go, McCance/Hart were determined to finish what they started and, following a faultless drive through SS7 and SS8, they emerged from the final stage to win the Evo Challenge by over two-and-a-half minutes and the overall event by 15   seconds, providing them both with their first ever outright victory which, in McCance’s case, was after 21 years of rallying.

“My main aim this weekend was to win the Evolution Challenge, but to win the event overall as well is a fantastic bonus,” said McCance, “I tried to put the thought of the outright win to the back of my mind and concentrate on the Evo Challenge, but I must admit that as we got near the finish I did quietly hope that we would do it and therefore I’m delighted with the result.”

Cumiskey/Foley held their sound second place in the Evolution Challenge and finished sixth overall, 53 seconds ahead of Moffett/O’Reilly who were third and eighth overall – all three Mitsubishi crews scoring a top-ten result

The fourth round of the Mitsubishi series sees crews return to South West Ireland for the Ravens Rock Rally, the Carrick-on-Suir event taking place on 27th June.

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 round three results
1  Neil McCance (Comber)/Jonny Hart (Carryduff) 1:10:03
2  Brendan Cumiskey (Dundalk)/Conor Foley (Ballinode) 1:12:37
3  Sam Moffett (Monaghan)/ James O’Reilly (Monaghan) 1:13:30

SS3  John McGlaughlin (Cookstown)/Crawford Henderson (Magherafelt) Engine

Championship positions after round 3

1 Neil McCance 32
2 Brendan Cumiskey 30
3 Sam Moffett 22
4 John McGlaughlin 17
5 Geoff McMahon 14
6 Stanley Ballantine 7
7 Willie Mavitty 5           
1 Conor Foley 30
2 James O’Reilly 22
3 Sean Ferris 20
4 Crawford Henderson 17
5 Rob Graham 14
6 Jonny Hart 12
7 Donnacha O’Callaghan 7
8 Brian Daniels  5