SS3: Samsonas Continues to Lead from McCullagh’s Fiesta R5

SS3: Lithuanian visitors Martynas Samsonas and Mindaugas Varza are on a mission at the McKelvey Asbestos Bushwhacker Rally. Competitors are now in service after stage three and the BMW E46 mounted crew are leading the rally by seven seconds despite a 10 second penalty!

They have set some impressive times over the opening three stages and in spite of a bit of drama at the stage one start where they were unable to read the countdown clock, they are in control of the rally.

Behind them are Niall McCullagh and Ryan McCloskey who hold second despite struggling with a misfire in fourth gear with their Fiesta R5.

“I think it could be an injector problem or a coil pack,” McCullagh revealed. “Hopefully, we’ll get it sorted in service.”

Patrick O’Brien and Stephen O’Hanlon are third in what is their first outing with a Fiesta R5. “It’s a bit different to the Evo!” he smiled. “We touched a bale with the back right but it’s OK.”

Desi Henry and Conor Mohan are the leading McGrady Insurance N.I. Championship contenders in fourth. They had a problem with the rear arm in their Fiesta WRC which resulted in a rear wheel moving around.

“We’re also cleaning the road but hopefully we didn’t lose too much time,” Henry said as he arrived into service.

He shares fourth with Scottish visitor Jock Armstrong as well as Marty McKenna who was full of smiles as he arrived at service.

Former N.I. champion Connor McCloskey is seventh after making “a bit of a mess” of a chicane. “She’s a big bus!” he laughed.

Martin Cairns had no dramas and is eighth ahead of Conor McCourt who was another driver who lost time at a chicane. Derek McGeehan rounds off the top 10 and was struggling in the dusty conditions.

“I think the 30 second intervals can be dangerous in these conditions,” he admitted. “It’s so dusty out there, I had to virtually come to a stop a couple of times because I couldn’t see.”

McGeehan leads the championship going into this event and rivalz Derek McGarrity, lost some time behind the spinning Donall Sweeney.

“I reckon we lost five or six seconds,” he said. Meanwhile, Sweeney lost around 20 seconds and spotted a bit of damage to the front wing of his Evo.

McGarrity is a few seconds behind Stephen Wright, who is also in the battle for the 2019 title. He reckons he’s lacking a bit of experience on the gravel.

Stage times are still coming in but the two-wheel-drive crews appear to be led by Shane McGirr and Denver Rafferty in their Toyota Starlet.

Crews are now heading back out for the next loop of stages. They’ll complete another two tests before returning to service. More later!

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