After SS8: McCloskey Extends Lead, Creighton Closes on McGarrity

AFTER SS8: Connor McCloskey and Noel O’Sullivan have extended their lead at the MJE Wheel Repair Tyrone Stages Rally. The Fiesta crew top the standings by 17 seconds from Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson, with William Creighton and Liam Regan third.

“It’s a lot better now that all my brakes are working again,” McCloskey said when he arrived back into service.

Second placed Derek McGarrity commented that he’s “going as quick as I can with the rear differential issue” and William Creighton had another clean run and is growing in confidence with the car as each stage progresses.

In fact, Creighton managed to take four seconds out of McGarrity on stage eight and was just two seconds slower than the pace set by the rally leaders. Seven seconds separate him and McGarrity.

Gareth Sayers has traced his misfire down to a faulty water injection pump in his Impreza WRC so he’s a bit happier now that the problem is fixed.

James Laverty managed to avoid the sand dunes on this occasion and had a clean run over stages seven and eight!

“We still have a bit of a clutch issue,” Laverty said, “but if we can get the car off the line it’s not too bad.”

Paul Britton was in the wars again as he lost around 15 seconds with another spin. With both Laverty and Britton hitting trouble, Josh McErlean and Aaron Johnston are the leading lights in the Group N category. It’s McErlean’s first event in a four-wheel drive car – he’s definitely one to watch in the future!

Martin Cairns is in a bit of trouble with his Fiesta WRC. The car misfired through stage eight, forcing him to turn the anti-lag system off. He is back in service and hopes to be able to fix the problem before the next loop of stages. The crew have dropped to fifth overall.

Brendan Cumiskey only has one headlight in his Fiesta after one broke when the crew were trying to fix their earlier intercooler pipe problem. Jonny and Simon Morrow’s Mitsubishi Mirage is still running very hot but it doesn’t seem to be troubling the crew too much.

James Kennedy is in the midst of an intense battle with John Devlin for top two-wheel drive honours. Just a handful of seconds separate the two crews, with Kennedy currently leading the way and in a super impressive fourth overall while Devlin is sixth and is planning to fix an alternator issue in service.

Championship sponsor, Fintan McGrady, has been running with a down on power engine but he knows what the issue is…

“The engine is just back from Millington and the throttle bodies are only opening 65 per cent,” he explained, “so I only have 65 per cent throttle. I’m living with it…it’s like a good 1600cc car. We have to get to the finish to get the points and win our class in the Championship.”

Raymond Doyle is still full of smiles and is going “more sideways”, although he admits he wasn’t “brave enough” in places.

That completes the end of ‘leg one’. Crews are now back in service before heading to tackle leg two which sees the stages being run in reverse direction.

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