SS4: Stephen Wright extends advantage, Keith White heads 2WD

SS4 WRIGHT EXTENDS LEAD / WHITE HEADS 2WD: Stephen Wright and Gary McKenna have extended their advantage at the head of the leaderboard. Their bid for a second consecutive Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages victory is right on track and with two stages to go, their lead stands at 7.2 seconds over Derek and Mark McGeehan.

“It’s hard work in there,” Wright quipped. “My arms are pulled out of me!”

The rain eased during that fourth stage but Derek McGeehan admitted to making some minor mistakes and is frustrated to lose a second here and there. It could make all the difference at the end of the day.

Former champions, Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson, are now right on the pace in their Skoda Fabia R5. They set second fastest time on the test but are still 11.9 seconds behind the leaders.

“That was better but I think the driver needs to be changed!” he smiled.

Gareth Sayers and Ash Boulton still hold fourth overall but they hit trouble during the stage. Their engine stopped midway through the test for what seemed like an age. It eventually fired up again but they lost 20 seconds to the leaders.

“I don’t know why it happened,” Sayers said. “We’ll have a look at it in service.”

A similar problem happened to Alan Carmichael on the previous stage but he’s back on a charge despite a failing centre differential. He’s now in front of Emma McKinstry who made the mistake of slowing to let him past while on the track.

“I don’t know why I did that!” McKinstry said. “He wasn’t close enough so I should have kept going. We were a second ahead of him but now we’re a couple behind after that.”

Philip Allen has managed to get his gearstick problem fixed and made up nine places on the stage but is still sitting outside the top 10 overall. Dominic McNeill arrived at the finish with a bit of cosmetic damage to his Fiesta after he was caught out and lost time with a spin.

Scottish visitor, Barry Groundwater, had a few expletives to say at the stage finish after he was another driver who was caught out during the test.

“We spun after the gravel section,” he said. “I was just a bit too fast!”

With two stages to go, Keith White and Gavin Campbell (pictured above) lead the two-wheel-drive category. They’ve edged ahead of James and Heather Kennedy with 5.3 seconds now separating the leading duo who are both on the fringes of the top 10. Drew Stewart and David White are third in the category.

Further down the order, there was some last-minute prep for the slightly battered looking Peugeot (headline photo above and pictured below) belonging to Daniel Hamill and Dion Coyle before the start of the stage…but they are still full of smiles!

We had a little break in the rain for a while but it looks like it’s about to make an unwelcome return. There are still two stages to go here at Kirkistown. Can Stephen Wright do the Kirkistown double? We’ll find out soon!

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