PIRELLI POWER STAGES HAVE AHLIN SEEING DOUBLE
Two days of high speed motoring over fantastically quick stages where power was at a premium saw Scandinavian crew Fredrik Ahlin/ Torstein Ericsen clinch their second successive victory on the Pirelli International Rally , it was a “Double Double” as it was the also their second victory in the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship having won the opening round last month. Ahlin’s win was no easy victory, he was headed on the opening day by the Hyundai of Tom Cave until they were sidelined by mechanical gremlins while the second day of the Carlisle based event saw Ahlin come under a sustained challenge from Osian Pryce/ Dale Furniss who got to within 4 seconds of claiming the lead while the drive of the day came from David Bogie/ Kevin Rae who put in a late spurt, and was fastest on all of the Sunday stages, he must have been rueing the brake problems which caused him to be off the pace on day One.
The opening stage of the Pirelli backed rally’s second day wreaked havoc amongst the leading runners as Keith Cronin/ Mike Galvin, 3rd overnight, crashed out of the event, then Gary Person/ Paula Swinscoe who had been handily placed in a promising 4th place found one of Kielder’s many ditches and weren’t able to extricate the car. Meanwhile Jonny Greer/ Kirsty Riddick, who had been lying 6th stopped at the end of the stage with mechanical problems so, as the crews headed for service at Kielder Water the top positions had changed dramatically with Martin McCormack/ David Moynihan up to 3rd and the ever improving Bogie/ Rae combo now in 4th place.
There was quite a battle amongst the Junior BRC runners which overnight had seen Callum Devine lead Merion Evans and William Creighton however, the second day saw Creighton pull out all the stops to leapfrog into the lead from Devine and Evans, the margin at the finish a miniscule 0.4 seconds, it doesn’t get much closer than that ! John McErlean lost ground in the championship points race when he went off the road in the Black Fell stage which also saw Alex Waterman go out with driveshaft failure.
The rally finished in the little market town of Brampton where a huge crowd thronged the main street and market place to greet the winners, the entire town centre taken over by the rally with a giant 60 foot TV screen relaying all the action while spectators took the opportunity to try out the Pirelli Rally simulator and the local traders laid on an outdoor barbecue and there was a carnival atmosphere about the place, a great end to a really great event.