SS5: O’Brien Up to Second on R5 Debut while Samsonas Leads

SS5: Martynas Samsonas continues to lead the rally in his BMW. His earlier time penalty – which was nothing to do with the errant clocks at the stage one start – has been scrapped but he’s being hunted down by the chasing pack!

Patrick O’Brien is just seven seconds adrift in his Fiesta R5 – an impressive run considering its his first time in the car – while third placed Desi Henry has admitted that he’s going to go on an all-out attack this afternoon!

While O’Brien had a clean run through stages four and five, Desi Henry was still heamorraging time as he cleaned the road for the following crews. Nonetheless he managed to get in front of Niall McCullagh to hold third overall at service and is looking forwards to the next loop of stages where he won’t struggle in the same way.

“That was the last loop where we had to clean the road so it’ll be an attack from here on in,” a confident Henry said.

Niall McCullagh’s earlier misfire problems were traced to a problematic boost valve which has now been fixed. He was back on the pace but admitted he didn’t have the same top speed as the World Rally Cars. He lies fourth.

“The car is on the limiter in places,” he revealed. “I can’t do much more.”

Former champion Connor McCloskey reported no dramas in fifth while sixth placed Jock Armstrong had a half spin at a chicane and commented that the “stage times are too tight for that nonsense”.

Martin Cairns is next up in his Fiesta WRC, just ahead of Conor McCourt who lost around 10 seconds when he stalled, while Niall Henry is ninth.

Stephen Wright’s confidence is growing but only through certain sections of the stages. He holds 10th and has managed to get ahead of championship rival McGeehan in 11th. The McGeehan father and son reckoned they were braking too early in places.

Marty McKenna is 12th after a spin, closely followed by Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson who are in more misfire woes. They struggled with the same problem at the previous event but it still hasn’t been rectified.

“You’ve no idea what we’ve been through to try and sort it,” a disappointed McGarrity said. “M-Sport has looked at it but we still can’t find the source of the problem.”

McGarrity is 13th with four seconds separating him from 10th placed Wright.

There’s a big battle on for the 2WD spoils as Adrian Hetherington has nipped onto a one second lead from Shane McGirr, who was forced to change his alternator at service this morning.

Crews are about to head for the next loop of four stages before returning to service one final time ahead of a final stage attack in Lough Braden.

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