Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland Victory for Carney On The Ulster International
August 20, 2012 by Andrew Bushe
The penultimate round of the Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland, took place on the Ulster International Rally. It was a drama filled event for the C2 R2 Max mounted runners, who were competing against the best of the British Rally Championship driver’s in the R2 class. Mayo’s David Carney took his second victory of the season, with series leader Kevin O’Connor in second despite taking the majority of fastest stage times. Adrian McElhinney took third and he too lead at one point in this see-saw battle.
The opening Knockboy stage saw David Carney take the jump, 1.8 seconds faster than Adrian McElhinney, and a full 17.3 seconds faster than Kevin O’Connor. “That first stage wasn’t good” commented Kevin. “I was nervous before the start, something I’m not usually, but I guess I had competing against all of the top British driver’s in my head and I was far too cautious on the first stage. That was certainly my own fault, but our luck didn’t get much better after that.” Indeed after three stages David Carney had a 1.7 second advantage over Adrian McElhinney, making his return to the Trophy for this event, with Kevin O’Connor 14.8 seconds behind, despite a car which wouldn’t rev above 6000rpm on the second half of the Glendun stage, the problem being traced to a throttle body plug which had vibrated loose. Newcomer to the series James Ford was next up, after a good stage time on Glendun, moving ahead of Steve Wood who was now fifth.
On stage times at the end of the day’s six stages, it was Kevin O’Connor who led overnight, by exactly 10 seconds, but a minute road penalty was incurred for being late at the final service. The C2 was pushed into the Junction One service area after a misunderstanding translating the fuel usage figures, meant that it had run out of fuel. So it was Carney who led, by 9.6 seconds from last year’s champion, Adrian McElhinney who had his cousin Damien on the notes, O’Connor third, James Ford fourth on his first ever Irish rally, and Steve Wood in fifth. Steve however had suffered a front right puncture on Torr Head, running over a rock in the middle of the road that was displaced by one of the leading WRC cars. The time loss was seven minutes, the car even slipping off the jack at one point, and it wasn’t the best of events for Steve and co-driver Johnny Baird, with clutch and throttle issues on the second day. Steve’s persistence however looks to have almost secured the Welsh driver third place in the series this season.
Onto day two and Adrian McElhinney moved into the lead immediately on the opening Langford Lodge stage, but David Carney replied on the following Tardree test and re-took the lead in what was shaping up to be a great battle.
It was nearly all over in Tardree for Kevin O’Connor whose C2 arrived at the stage finish with the bonnet peeled right back. “It was a tight second gear left into a square right corner, and we got round the left ok, but on the right hander there was a lot of mud. We slid on and went into a gate, and luckily the gate stopped us from hitting a farmer’s shed. We were extremely lucky however in respect that the bonnet took most of it, and that the radiator was intact. It could have so easily been the end of our rally, and really it cost us any chance of a win.”
The ding-dong battle continued however, as Adrian McElhinney promptly put the yellow C2 back in front on the following Lisnamuck test, and extended it to 12.5 seconds after the long Slieve Gallion stage. Kevin O’Connor was now one minute and twelve seconds off the lead. By the end of stage 12 the second run over Tardree, David Carney had closed the gap back down to 5.8 seconds, Adrian perhaps being a little distracted, by of all things a streaker running alongside the stage!
All would change on stage 13, which was to prove unlucky for McElhinney. He picked up and puncture on the second Lisnamuck test, dropping almost two minutes, and third place would be end result for the returning Donegal man. James Ford was delighted to finish fourth in his first season in a front wheel drive car, and Steve Wood scored those valuable points in fifth. For CRT Ireland Trophy leader Kevin O’Connor, it was another second place with one round remaining in Cork. It was to be David Carney’s rally once more however. The young Westport driver and his co-driver Ray Fitzpatrick had driven a good rally, making no mistakes, and set a fast pace once more. As he crossed the finish of the final stage, he was understandably pleased. “Absolutely delighted” quipped David. “I drove that one there like I have never driven before.”
One round remains on the Cork 20 International, and although Kevin O’Connor is in the best position to take the series, he knows there are two tough days of rallying to complete. “It’s not over until we cross the finish line of the last stage in Cork. We need to finish to claim the Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland title, and that is our aim.”
To keep up to date check www.citroenracingtrophy.com or type Citroen Racing Trophy into Face-book for more details.
Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland Round Five- Positions
1 David Carney/ Ray Fitzpatrick 1hr 54m01.6s
2 Kevin O’Connor/ Gerard Conway +1min 01.4s
3 Adrian McElhinney/ Damien McElhinney +3min 35.9s
4 James Ford/ Neil Colman +6min23.1s
5 Steve Wood/ Johnny Baird +13min41.3s