SS3: Greer extends lead; Wright under pressure from Allen

After stage three, Jonny Greer and Darragh Mullen have extended their lead at the head of the Orchard Motorsport Kirkistown Stages leaderboard. With the sun shining, the stage direction was reversed and Greer was fastest on the drying stage to edge out their advantage to 10.6s over Stephen Wright and Ger Conway.

“We went out on wet compound tyres and struggled a bit on the high speed sections but it was OK,” a calm and collected Greer said at the stage finish.

Meanwhile, second-placed Wright was in a bit of a flap as he struggled to get to the stage start on time. A sensor issue with his Fiesta delayed the number one seed but he managed to get there in the nick of time and didn’t incur any penalties.

Wright, also on wet compound tyres, was fourth fastest on the stage, just one-tenth slower than third-placed Phillip Allen. Allen reckoned the stage “felt a bit hesitant…a bit slow”, but he has been slowly closing the gap to his rival. Just two-tenths of a second separates the two Fiesta crews and there is still plenty of mileage left in the event.

A couple of seconds behind them, Derek McGarrity and Graham Henderson have moved up to fourth with Darren Gass and Marc McMillan dropping to fifth. Like Wright and Allen, only two-tenths of a second separate McGarrity and Gass!

In sixth overall, Aaron McLaughlin initially seemed happy with his pace when he arrived at the finish until his navigator revealed that they were around 10 seconds slower than the fastest time.

”I need to do the first lap to work out where I’m going,” McLaughlin said, “and then we’re a lot faster on the second lap.”

Emma McKinstry had a huge smile at the finish and reported a “beautiful” slide after tweaking the handbrake in her Fiesta. Joseph McGonigle opted for slick tyres but wasn’t sure if that was the right choice as it was still greasy, while Mark Massey was a lot happier now that the stage is being run in a clockwise direction.

Ian Dickson stalled and lost around 15 seconds when he was exiting the gravel section. Alan Carmichael then caught up with him and reckons he lost a little bit of time in the process. Kieron Graffin said he is getting better on every stage and just needs more ‘seat time’.

In the two-wheel-drive category, Andrew White and Paul Hughes continue to lead but James and Heather Kennedy swiped eight seconds out of the leaders, despite being behind another car.

“We got caught behind a car from the start,” Kennedy said. “I had to hold my finger on the button for the window washers as I couldn’t see where I was going!”

Meanwhile, Jamie Grant spotted an R5 crew behind him after starting the stage. He pulled over to let them past…but shortly afterwards, he passed them again in his Starlet!

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