EVEN though he had to replace the power steering pump on three separate occasions, Meath’s, Tim McNulty (Subaru WRC) maintained his unbeaten sequence in the Dunlop National Rally Championship.
Yesterday, at the Mount Wolseley Country Resort Carlow Rally (Round 3), he finished 25 seconds ahead of the Skoda Fabia S2000 of Robert Barrable with the Escort of Daniel McKenna a further 40 seconds behind in third.
The Group N category was won by Andrew Cullen (Subaru). McKenna topped the timesheets on the opening stage that saw both Kevin Barrett and Colm Murphy lose time with off road excursions. Sam Moffett (Mitsubishi) retired with rear differential trouble as Trevor Mulligan crashed his Escort soon after the start.
McNulty, down in fifth after the opening test, made some suspension adjustments and led at the Tullow service halt. McKenna, Niall Maguire and Robert Barrable shared second spot, eight seconds behind the leader. As McNulty continued to set the pace (McKenna did equal his stage time on S.S. 5), the rally leader led Barrable by 20 seconds at the penultimate service where he had to borrow a power steering pump from Kevin Barrett. Maguire was five seconds further behind in third followed by Gary McPhillips (Escort) and the Subaru of Stephen Murphy who clipped a minute and one second off his times on the second loop of stages.
Maguire retired with transmission woes on the seventh test. McNulty went on to record his third straight win with Barrable second and McKenna in third. Murphy came through to take fourth with McPhillips fifth. Kevin Barrett (Subaru) and Liam McCarthy (Toyota Corolla WRC) completed the top seven. Cullen had an untroubled run to claim Group N, Colm Murphy, who lost fifth gear on the final stage, was second in the category.
Sam Smyth (Escort), who was eighth, won the Dunlop “Driver of the Day” award.
In Rally Italy, the fifth round of the World Rally Championship, Sebastien Loeb (Citroen DS3) finished 11.2 seconds ahead of the Ford Fiesta of Mikko Hirvonen, who netted maximum bonus points in the rally’s Power Stage. Loeb is seven points ahead of Hirvonen. Petter Solberg and his Irish co-driver, Chris Patterson (Citroen DS3) were third. The Irish pair of Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle didn’t re-start yesterday, the team felt it was safer not to risk a recurrence of the problem they had encountered on the first two days. In the Academy series, Craig Breen (Fiesta R2) was seventh overall, along the way, he punched in four fastest stage times.
Kenny McKinstry’s late decision to compete in the Tour of Sperrins Rally was well rewarded as he powered his Subaru WRC to a 17 second victory over the Mitsubishi of Donagh Kelly with Jonny Greer (Skoda Fabia S2000) coming home third, a further 42 seconds. Kelly took a 5.5 second lead on the opening stage with Greer second and McKinstry third. Neil McCance (Mitsubishi) lost time with a puncture. Seamus Heron (Toyota Corolla WRC) punched in the best times on the second and third stage to move into second – 5.2 behind leader, Kelly with Greer and McKinstry third and fourth. On S.S. 4, McKinstry slotted his Subaru into second and by the completion of S.S. 6, he had moved 6.9 seconds ahead of Kelly. Despite a moment on the final stage, McKinstry took victory to extend his lead in the Hankook Tyres Northern Ireland Championship. Kelly was second while Greer had a skirmish with the scenery on the final stage, but he still held onto to third.
Meanwhile, Dunlop National Rally champion, Mel Evans (Subaru WRC) took a comprehensive victory on the Manx National Rally, he finished three minutes and 46.8 seconds ahead of the Mitsubishi of Nigel Cannel. Andrew Lecce, also in a Mitsubishi, was third.
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