Clonmel’s Roy White (Ford Fiesta WRC) claimed his first victory in a round of the Irish Tarmac Championship courtesy of his win on the Macroom based CBtooolhire.com Cork “20” International Rally.
Co-driven by Dromtarriffe’s James O’Brien, they finished 27.8 seconds ahead of the Fiesta R5 of Ballylickey’s Daniel Cronin and his Killarney co-driver Shane Buckley. Welsh crew Meirion Evans/Jonathan Jackson (Hyundai i20 R5) were 38.8 seconds behind in third.
The prospect of a close contest loomed as the top four were within a 4.1 second time frame after the first stage that finished near Kilmurry. White was best with Cronin 1.4 seconds behind followed by Greer and Evans.
Greer had an issue with the brakes as the pedal went soft towards the stage end. On the second stage, the loss of second gear didn’t really hamper White, who had a new gearbox fitted at the Macroom service park.
Cronin in second - 1.8 seconds in arrears - struggled for top speed on S.S. 2 where Evans punched in his first ever-fastest stage time on an International event. Greer in fourth was six seconds off top spot.
On the repeat of both stages White’s more powerful World Rally Car dominated the time sheets and by S.S. 4 the Clonmel driver led Cronin by 8.8 seconds, the latter remarked that he pushed hard but was looking forward to the stages at Kilnamartyra and Lough Allua.
Evans and Greer tied for third and were 4.8 seconds further behind, Evans reckoned a delay at the start of S.S. 4 took its toll and it was a few kilometres into the stage before he got the tyres to work properly.
Greer stole a march on his opponents through the classic Kilnamartyra stage where he set a cracking time to move into second - 3.8 seconds behind White, who was at a loss to comprehend where he dropped time.
However, he also acknowledged that he was fortunate not to have punctured as he clipped the rear left wheel off a rock.
Regaining his composure White set the pace on Lough Allua and arrived at the day’s final service leading Greer by ten seconds. Cronin - 5.4 seconds off the lead after S.S. 5 - fell 17 seconds adrift by the conclusion of S.S. 6 where the loss of brakes close to the stage finish and a blocked air vent didn’t help his cause. Evans admitted that he lacked the experience of his rivals on both stages.
Another fine performance on the stage at Kilnamartyra saw Greer trim the deficit to 4.1 seconds but White again reigned on the repeat of Lough Allua to end the day with an 8.9 seconds lead.
Cronin’s bid to stay pace with his rivals took a major blow as he arrived at the stage finish with little rubber on the front right wheel rim.
Evans held fourth ahead of the Skoda Fabia S2000 of David Guest who had no intercom for two stages and also burst an oil cooler.
Frank Kelly (Escort) led the Modified section after Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla) retired with transmission woes when an input shaft broke.
On yesterday’s opening stage (S.S. 9) Greer sped into a 2.8 second lead but it all went awry a stage later when he crashed his Fiesta out of the rally.
That gave White a cushion of a 37.2 second lead. On S.S. 13 White was lucky to survive an altercation with a chicane where he stalled and some twenty seconds. However, he went on to claim the spoils with Cronin and Evans completing the top three. Guest was fourth.
In the Modified category, Tyrone’s Frank Kelly (Escort) took the event honours and when John Bonner retired his Escort, ITC honours went to pre-event leader Eves.
In the ITC Historic series and having replaced a halfshaft and the fuel tank, Ovens driver Owen Murphy (Sunbeam) did enough to claim the title.