SS4: Greer Heads Down Rally leaderboard!

After SS4: Times are still unofficial as organisers work through a few teething issues but at first service, it looks like reigning McGrady Insurance N.I. champions, Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick, head the Carryduff Forklift Down Rally leaderboard in their Citroen DS3 R5!

“The stages are good and they stayed dry so that was a bonus,” Greer said at service. “I’m happy enough!”

David Bogie and John Rowan are a provisional second overall in their Skoda Fabia R5 and are planning to go with some harder compound tyres for the second loop of stages.

“They’re quite tricky stages,” Bogie admitted. “There were a few crests that I didn’t notice on the recce. I think we’ll go on a harder compound tyre for the next loop.”

Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan had been lying in the top three but a heavy landing on stage three resulted in some time loss.

“We had a massive moment over Hamilton’s Folly jump,” Henry said. “We went over it too fast and the car nosedived which burst an intercooler pipe. We got to the end of the stage but we lost about 30 seconds.”

Plenty of crews had moments of the bumps and jumps of Hamilton’s Folly, including Melvyn Evans who is making his debut with a newly acquired Ford Fiesta WRC.

“The car is good but it’s a different way of driving compared to the Subaru,” Evans admitted. “We took a jump in Hamilton’s Folly a bit too quick, landed awkward and I hurt my neck a bit but we’ll keep on going.”

Jason Pritchard was also in the wars with his Ford Focus WRC but he got away lightly…

“I clipped a kerb on the second stage and on the fourth stage, we went backwards into a bank and cracked the back bumper,” he recalled. “It could have been worse.”

N.I. Championship leader, Derek McGarrity, was lucky to get away with a big spin in his hired Ford Focus WRC on the Hamilton’s Folly stage. Some braking issues led to the incident which cost around 15 seconds but he’s confident of getting the problem sorted in service.

N.I. Championship contender, Alan Carmichael, struggled with his Mini WRC’s setup during the opening loop as his car skipped over the bumps. He plans to soften his suspension in service.

Former champion, Kenny McKinstry, has had a difficult start to the day. Intercom troubles were following by an overheating engine, costing him plenty of time.

“The temperature was up to 125 degrees,” McKInstry reported. “On Hamilton’s Folly we had to run with no anti-lag and my navigator, Noel, isn’t feeling too well either so it hasn’t been a great start.”

Some of the Protyre MSA Asphalt Championship runners are enjoying the ‘big jumps’ on the stages. Daniel Harper is faring well in his Mini WRC while Steve Simpson reported there was less grip in places than he expected.

“It was a bit slippery in places and there’s a bit of gravel on the first one,” Simpson said. “There are plenty of jumps too. It was bumpier than it looked on the recce.”

Meirion Evans echoed his thoughts and was lucky to get away with a moment towards the end of stage four…

“I had the corner as a ‘flat one left’ in the notes and it just tightened but we’re still here.”

A few other crews weren’t as lucky as Stuart Biggerstaff ploughed his Impreza WRC into a bank after it jammed in fourth gear.

“We locked up coming into a corner that I probably know,” Biggerstaff said. “The car jammed in fourth gear when we were braking for the corner so I couldn’t use the gears to slow the car down. We locked up, went straight across the road and into a bank. I think we lost around 15 or 20 seconds and it took me a while to get back on the pace afterwards.”

Scottish visitor Barry Groundwater also arrived in service with some damage to the front of his Mitsubishi after hitting a bank while Adrian Spencer is lucky to still be in the rally.

“About three-quarters of the way into the second stage, a boost pipe came off the turbo so I tried to push a bit more on the next stage,” Spencer explained. “At the first jump, the car kicked the rear when it landed. We spun, hit various banks and ended up stuck in the middle of the road.”

He added: “I thought that was the end of it and we got out but then we saw all of the wheels were still pointing in the right direction. So we dropped about three or four minutes but we got going again.”

Connor McCrossan was one of the first on the scene and had to stop at the incident while Richard Clews said he “didn’t think he was ever going to land” after the same Hamilton’s Folly jump which caused damage to the rear of his Subaru.

N.I. Championship contender James Laverty is also sporting some damage to the side of his Subaru but he only lost around 10 seconds after a brush with a bank.

Both David Hardie and Robin Phillips said they are a “bit rusty” while Emma McKinstry, who hasn’t competed since 2016, is loving her day out in an Impreza WRC. Gary Rodgers lost a little bit of time with some “minor overshoots” and Liam McFall caused a few headaches for some of the competitors behind him…

“The car went light over a ‘three right’ and we hit a bale,” McFall said. “The bale ended up in the middle of the road for everyone else behind us – they’re all cursing us!”

Kyle White was one of the first on the scene. He had to virtually come to a stop and push the bale out of his way with the nose of his car.

“We dropped around 10 or 15 seconds,” White said. “Then we had a good run on stage three but we had to be cautious on the last stage because our recce car broke down yesterday so we weren’t able to recce the full stage.”

Other two-wheel drive crews include Camillus Bradley who admitted to being a bit cautious while Wesley Patterson broke a rear shock absorber.

“We had to go through the fourth stage with the car bouncing around at the back so we had to be very cautious,” Patterson said. “We’ll get it changed in service.”

William Creighton has enjoyed a clean run so far while Simon Morrow had a disastrous start in his Mitsubishi Mirage RS.

“The car went onto three cylinders just off the stage one start line for no reason,” Morrow explained. “Then I got a bit flustered, spun the car, stalled and she wouldn’t fire up again so I lost about a minute.”

More news when crews return to service later! Keep an eye on for the latest results and the Special Stage Facebook page for live footage from the stages!

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