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Good results for Rally Academy members participating in Rally Belgium this weekend

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

Motorsport Ireland licence holders took the top three places in the Junior British Rally Championship element of the Ypres Rally in Belgium over the weekend.

A total of six Motorsport Ireland crews tackled the legendary event in West Flanders over the weekend.

Casey Jay Coleman paired up with Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy co-driver Lorcan Moore for the first time and netted almost instant results.

The Ford Fiesta crew were the top-placed BRC Junior team after 18 stages and two days of rallying in the area famed for World War 1 history.

It was Coleman’s biggest result to date and came on the back of a bad run of luck.

He inherited the category lead of Friday night after rivals hit trouble and a mature drive on Saturday ensured he held station and secured the category win.

They were the only Irish crew that did not use Rally Two rules to get to the finish.

“Me and Lorcan gelled very well,” he said at the finish, “We learned a lot, it was great to experience a rally as big as Ypres.”

Kyle McBride and Liam McIntyre were second in the category, but much like the Jim Clark Rally last month, they did so the hard way.

An off-road excursion on Friday night left their Ford Fiesta badly damaged. A huge effort from almost all of the service park had them back out on Saturday morning.

The ECU failed on Saturday morning meaning they had to rely on Rally Two rules for a second over the weekend.

“It was a tough weekend with a lot of mistakes and issues,” he said. “A huge thanks to the whole team and all the other lads for keeping us going on Friday night,”

He retains second in the Junior category of the British Rally Championship.

The category is being led by Kyle White and Sean Topping who finished third in Belgium.

Like McBride, they had a difficult weekend and overcame several issues, including an engine fire and an off-road incident on Friday. Nevertheless, they were happy with their pace and the result opens up the title fight in the British championship.

Johnnie Mullholand and Eoin Treacy were fancied frontrunners in the rally but an engine problem on Saturday put an end to their rally. The Ford Fiesta crew reported a smokie engine on Saturday morning and when their team examined it they found a damaged spark plug which indicated an internal issue and they elected to withdraw the car.

Niall O’Sullivan and Rally Academy co-driver Grace O’Brien were another Irish crew to rely on Rallu Two rules to get to the finish. They found one of many Flanders ditches on Saturday but after being recovered from the stage they were able to continue.

“This is my third attempt at the Ypres Rally and my first finish,” said the Clare driver.

James Boland and John McCay had the honour of being the top Irish driver on Friday night but a broken wishbone on Saturday paid to their maiden attempt at a Belgian Rally.

Co-driver Darragh Mullen was another Irish co-driver on the lengthy retirement list.

He and his driver Fraser Anderson had mechanical trouble in their Ford Fiesta at the event’s first service on Friday night and retired on the spot.

However, they were able to donate parts to McBride’s effort to keep him in the rally.

Meanwhile, in Kenya, Irish co-driver Aaron Johnston helped Toyota to a one-two-three-four result in the Safari Rally. Sitting alongside Takamoto Katsuta, the Tyrone co-driver finished fourth after setting several fastest over the gruelling four-day event.

Text by: Sean Moriarty



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