The 2010 UTV Drive Circuit of Ireland Rally, which is an Intercontinental Rally Challenge support event, is shaping up to provide spectators with a thrilling finale!
Two of today’s six stages have been completed, and overnight leader, Alastair Fisher, is coming under increasing pressure from second placed Derek McGarrity.
Three-times winner McGarrity has whittled Fisher’s overnight advantage of 13 seconds down to four seconds. But that’s not the whole story…
Gareth MacHale has been on a major attack this morning, and his one minute deficit to the event leader has been transformed into a 28.8 second deficit after the opening runs through Fincarn Hill and Coolcair.
Meanwhile, Tim McNulty is a further 16 seconds adrift, and was fastest over stage 10. He was less than four seconds behind MacHale at that point but lost some ground through stage 11.
Outside the battle among the leading crews, Richard Cathcart and Martin Brady hold fifth ahead of Aaron MacHale and Eugene O’Donnell. Aaron moved into sixth on stage 11 after Daragh O’Riordan lost more than one minute when he had an altercation with a bale chicane.
The National Rally crews are now on the stages, and times should start filtering through shortly. Meanwhile, the International Rally competitors are heading towards the Park Hotel sponsored stage 12, before they return to service in Newry.
UTV Drive Circuit of Ireland Rally leg two itinerary
Stage 10: Talk to me mobile phones Fincarn Hill 1 – 11:07am
Stage 11: Reach EPS Ltd Coolcair 1 – 11:36am
Stage 12: The Park Hotel Cornoonagh Hill 1 – 12:11pm
Service: Newry (sponsored by KDM Hire) – 1.24pm
Stage 13: Talk to me mobile phones Fincarn Hill 2 – 2.51pm
Stage 14: Reach EPS Ltd Coolcair 2 – 3.20pm
Stage 15: The Park Hotel Cornoonagh Hill 2 – 3.55pm
Service: Newry (sponsored by KDM Hire) – 4.53pm
Finish: Town Hall, Newry – 5.15pm
Derek McGarrity and James McKee have snatched the UTV Drive Circuit of Ireland International Rally lead after stage 12, the Park Hotel Cornoonagh Hill!
Overnight leaders, Alastair Fisher and Marshall Clarke, lost their advantage when they were forced to complete the final four miles of the test with a puncture.
Young gun Fisher, who is driving a production category Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, now holds second overall, less than three seconds in front of Gareth MacHale.
MacHale has also been on a charge this morning. He started leg two one minute adrift of the leader but has rapidly moved closer to the top spot, although he lost eight seconds to McGarrity over stage 12.
In the National Rally, after stage 11 (Reach EPS Ltd Coolcair), Kenny McKinstry and Noel Orr have extended their lead to more than seven minutes.
Kenny’s daughter, Emma, holds third but she is coming under increasing pressure from John Waring and Alan Whyte. Only six seconds separate the two crews.
The National Rally competitors will complete one more stage before returning to service in Newry. Afterwards, all crews will tackle the final loop of three stages before the winners are crowned at Newry’s Town Hall, shortly before 5pm.
Derek McGarrity is on the verge of sealing his fourth UTV Drive Circuit of Ireland Rally victory!
The Subaru Impreza WRC pilot and navigator James McKee are almost 25 seconds ahead of Gareth MacHale and Brian Murphy going into the final stage.
Overnight leaders, Alastair Fisher and Marshall Clarke, have decided to settle for third in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. They are also the leading production category crew, and have more than four minutes in hand over their nearest category rivals.
The big news from the final loop of stages comes from Tim McNulty’s camp. Unconfirmed reports suggest the Impreza pilot, who led the event until he lost time with a puncture during leg one, was off the road on stage 13.
Martin McCormack and Dai Roberts also hit trouble, losing four minutes as well as the two-wheel-drive category lead. Mark Donnelly and Paddy Robinson are now out in front with their Citroen C2 R2 Max, just outside the top 10 overall.
Crews are now on their way to the final stage. Once completed, they will return to service in Newry before heading to the finish ramp at the town hall.
Derek McGarrity has secured the 2010 UTV Drive Circuit of Ireland International Rally laurels!
The win marks McGarrity’s fourth ‘Circuit’ victory, while navigator James McKee will etch his name on the prestigious roll of honour for the first time.
McGarrity has registered for the 2010 Citroen Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, so he also secures maximum points in the series.
Gareth MacHale and Brian Murphy had to settle for second. After a troubled start, they fought their way through the order, finishing 33.5 seconds adrift of the winners.
Third placed Alastair Fisher and Marshall Clarke can be extremely proud of what was an astonishing drive in their production category Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. It was 11 years ago that Alastair’s late uncle, the famous Bertie Fisher, sealed his third victory on the event.
For a time, it looked as though Alastair may have been on course to follow in his uncle’s footsteps but today’s dry weather saw the powerful World Rally Car crews close the gap. When Fisher lost time with a puncture, it was all over, and he was forced to settle for third.
Aaron MacHale and Eugene O’Donnell recovered from their stage one incident to take fourth. Richard Cathcart and Martin Brady had been on course for fourth but they retired less than one mile from the finish of the final stage with mechanical trouble.
With Cathcart out of the event, Daragh O’Riordan and Tony McDaid completed the top five, while Neil McCance and Sean Ferris completed the top six in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
The National Rally crews have still to complete the final stage, but Kenny McKinstry and Noel Orr are on the verge of an emphatic win over John Waring and Alan Whyte. Waring is going into the final test with 12 seconds in hand over Emma McKinstry and Kenny Hull.
The International Rally crews are arriving into final service in Newry, and will shortly arrive at Newry’s town hall for the champagne spraying finish!