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INTERIM REPORT: Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy on Rali Bae Ceredigion in Wales

Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy members contesting this weekend’s Rali Bae Ceredigion in Wales find themselves in strong positions as they prepare for the event‘s second day of competitive action.

Two Irish drivers are in a position to lead the British Junior Rally Championship come Sunday evening and regardless of what happen on the second day it looks certain that title is coming to Ireland for the third year in a row despite two rounds remaining.

Overnight the category is being led by Kyle White and Sean Topping in their Peugeot 208 Rally4.

The Ulster Rally category winner have enjoyed a day-long battle with local Welsh crew Ioan Lloyd and Sion Willians in their similar machine. The Irish crew sit 11th overall after Saturday’s eight stages of competitive action. However, Lloyd cannot score championship points due to his late registration.

“It is a very tricky rally,” said White at the event’s midday service halt, “I felt I was very cautious, I slid wide too and stopped on one stage.”

That incident damaged the steering but his team were able to rectify the issue during the 30-minute break.

“If Ioan wants to go for the class win, well so it is, I have to be realistic and think about the championship,” he added.

White could also lead the junior element of the Tour European Rally Series, an FIA-sanctioned pan-European championship after the weekend.

If the results stay as they are on Sunday evening, White will have overtaken fellow Irish driver Shaun Quinn for the championship lead.

Several other rounds will take place in various countries, including Slovenia, Switzerland, and Germany between here and the season end but an Irish champion is now a distinct possibility.

Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy member Kyle McBride and his co-driver Liam McIntyre hold third in the category overnight but are in line for second-place points.

The Donegal driver is playing his joker round on this event meaning he will score bonus points, enough to put a dent in White’s championship advantage but not enough to take the series lead.

“It is a very fast rally and you have to be committed to get your lines right. I spun on stage two and lost a load of time but otherwise, I am keeping it nice and clean, he said after the opening loop.

Adding: “We had a very good afternoon; I haven’t done a dry rally in a long time and I am trying to get used to the feel of the car again.”

Galway’s Aoife Raftery, another Rally Academy member, holds fourth in the category overnight.

A spin on stage two cost valuable time but a very committed run over the daunting 17-mile Cwm Ystwyth stage got her back on track.

The Craughwell woman is contesting this year’s FIA Junior European Rally Championship in a PCRS Rallysport run Peugeot 208 Rally 4 but is using an older and less powerful Ford Fiesta Rally 2 1600 for this rally.

“Stage three was crazy, I have no problems with the distance, I have that experience from previous [European] events, but we are going from corner to corner flat out, it is all going well.”

She continued her strong push over the afternoon stages, clearly missing the additional power of her usual Peugeot, and with her Fiesta showing battle scars – a testament to just how hard she was trying.

“We are happy with our pace, we are here to learn the roads and the technical stages,” she added after six of the day’s eight stages.

“The lack of power means we cannot keep up with the Rally4 boys.”

She and co-driver Geraldine McBride hold fourth in class overnight.

Rising Waterford star, 19-year-old Jack Brennan is contesting just his second rally outside of Ireland and his first overseas tarmac event.

Driving the same Renault Clio Rally 5 that he drove nine class wins on Irish National and Forestry events this year, he and co-driver John McGrath are leading the Rally 5 class.

“I was lacking a bit of confidence on the long stage,” he said. “The length of it caught me out, I am enjoying it, it is all about seat time and to learn these bigger rallies. Hopefully, we can do more of them in the future. Our pace improved, it felt better and more enjoyable in the afternoon.”

Sunday brings more closed road stages, a loop of three in the morning, followed by a lunchtime service halt, then the same three stages repeated in the afternoon, after which the ceremonial finish will take place on the promenade in Aberystwyth.

Irish co-driver Richard Crozier leads his class alongside William Hill in a Ford Fiesta R200. They will start Sunday’s rally one place behind Raftery and one place ahead of Brennan.

Rally Bajo Aragon Spain

Meanwhile, in Spain, Irish rally team PCRS Rallysport won Rally Bajo Aragon.

The team were running a Hyundai i20 Rally 2 for rising finish star Benjamin Korhola.

It was his first-ever outing in a Rally 2 car but the latest Flying Finn – with ten stage wins - beat local driver Carlos Moreno in a Skoda Fabia Rally2 by over three minutes

The Irish team were also running Northern Ireland’s Phillip Allen. Although he slid off the road, during a heavy thunderstorm earlier in, he was able to re-join under SuperRally Rules.

Between Korhola and Allen, the cars maintained by the Irish team set the fastest time on all 11 stages.

Text by Sean Moriarty



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