Irish drivers make steady start to Pirelli Rally

Four Irish drivers are amongst the top ten at the overnight halt in the Carlisle-based Pirelli International Rally, the second round of the British Rally Championship.

The event is being led by Briton, Guy Wilks in his Proton Satria S200 car, he was fastest on both of this evening two stages.

There, the reigning British champion opened up a lead of 18.1 seconds over former champion, Mark Higgins in a Subaru.

Northern Ireland's, Philip Morrow (Mitsubishi), returning to the sport after a brief absence, is the top Irishman, he's third overall - just eleven seconds behind Higgins, despite having to drive almost a mile behind another competitor on the second test.

Cork ace, Keith Cronin, who won the opening round of the series last month and has no real experience of the stages, finished the opening test in fifth place after an anxious moment at the second corner on the stage.

He also experienced a spin onboard his Mitsubishi and took a cautious approach on the second stage but still moved up one place to fourth overnight.

Elsewhere, Northern Ireland pair, Jonny Greer and Alastair Fisher, both in Mitsubishi's, ended the leg in eighth and ninth places respectively.

Kilkenny's, Craig Breen leads the Fiesta SportingTrophy category and Northern Ireland driver, Marty McCormack (Citroen) heads the R2 category.

Tomorrow's second and final leg of the rally, will encompass the Mitsubishi Evo Challenge UK series featuring several Irish drivers including Daniel Barry and Owen Murphy. It will consist of a further ten stages.

1. Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh (Proton S2000) 17m. 52.2s.

2. Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru) 18m. 10.9s.

3. Phillip Morrow/Simon Morrow (Mitsubishi) 18m. 21.9s.

4. Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi) 18m. 27.8s.

5. Adam Gould/Seb Marshall (Subaru) 18m. 32.8s.

6. David Bogie/Kevin Rae (Mitsubishi) 18m. 33.2s.

7. Dave Weston/Dave Robson (Subaru) 18m. 49.7s.

8. Jonny Greer/Anthony O'Conaill (Mitsubishi) 18m. 49.8s.

9. Alastair Fisher/Rory Kennedy (Mitsubishi) 18m. 50.4s.

10. Danny Sigurdarson/Andy Bull (Mitsubishi) 19m. 04.0s.

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