SS4/5/6: Top three hit drama! Wright on verge of taking rally lead?

SS4/5/6: What a difference a couple of stages can make. Each of the top three crews hit trouble over stages four, five and six! Could Stephen Wright be on the verge of taking the rally lead?

The stages are bone dry, there’s a lot more grip and Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick extended their lead to more than 30 seconds after stage five as both Meirion Evans and Jon Armstrong hit trouble on stage four – the second run through the Lough Erne test.

Evans hit a kerb and broke a wheel during the stage, forcing him to stop during the test. He lost around seven minutes and plummeted down the leaderboard.

Meanwhile, Jon Armstrong had to back off during the test as he got a puncture and although his time lost of one minute wasn’t as severe, he dropped to the bottom half of the top 10.

Stephen Simpson and Patrick Walsh also got a puncture on the stage, losing around five minutes. Their combined dramas meant that Greer and Riddick held a lead of 32.7 seconds…but then their Fiesta hit drama on stage six with reported gearbox and differential failure.

The crew finished the test and are still leading the rally by 23.7 seconds but whether or not they can continue remains to be seen…

With Greer losing time and both Meirion Evans and Armstrong dropping down the order, Daniel Harper and Chris Campbell were perfectly positioned to pick up the pieces…or so it seemed. They dropped a handful of seconds to Stephen Wright and Liam Moynihan who managed to nip in front.

So Wright is currently second ahead of Daniel Harper and Chris Campbell, while Jon Armstrong is back up to an impressive fourth after his earlier dramas.

The gap from fifth to eighth is tight with less than 10 seconds separating Steve Wood (Fiesta WRC), Melvyn Evans (Fabia R5), Derek McGarrity (Fiesta WRC) and Stuart Biggerstaff (Fiesta R5) who was beaming at the end of stage five as he continues to enjoy his first R5 experience.

Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson have broken an anti roll bar and droplink but are still setting competitive times. He has managed to move in front of N.I. Championship rivals Derek and Mark McGeehan, as well as Stuart Biggerstaff and Steve Wood.

In the two-wheel drive category, Damian Toner and Barry McParland continue to lead in their Escort reasonably comfortably from Wesley Patterson and Johnny Baird. Toner commented that he was “going well and trying to maintain his position”.

Further down the order, Kenny McKinstry lost time with an overshoot on stage five while Cal McCarthy spun at the hairpin near the finish of the stage.

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