Finland bites back for Irish competitors
There was heartbreak for the Irish contingent last weekend on the fastest round of the World Rally Championship, Neste Oil Rally Finland. WRC2 contender, Craig Breen, hit trouble before the event even began. The Waterford driver rolled his Peugeot 208 on the pre event shakedown stage when a tyre came off the rim mid corner. Fortunately for Breen and his co-driver, Scott Martin, the damage to the car was largely superficial and Breen’s mechanics were able to repair the car in time for him to take the start. Breen started strongly, moving up to fifth in the WRC2 category after 5 stages. Disaster was to strike shortly after however when the oil pressure in the Peugeot plummeted and Breen was forced to retire. His WRC campaign will resume in 2 weeks time on the ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
In the Junior World Rally Championship section, the Monaghan pairing of Daniel McKenna and Andrew Grennan once again demonstrated their impressive pace. McKenna, who had led both of the previous rounds of the championship before retiring, started strongly in his Citroen DS3 R3T Max and was maintaining a steady fourth overall on his first visit to Finland. The rally is famous for its many jumps, and unfortunately for McKenna, a hard landing on stage 5 saw him burst the radiator of the Citroen causing damage to the engine forcing him into retirement. Meanwhile at the head of the field, Killarney navigator guided Kris Meeke to 1 point as the pair finished third on the final day power stage. They had been in line to scoop up more points until Meeke slid off in slippery conditions on the penultimate day while lying in third overall.
At home, Limerick Motor Club ran their hillclimb this weekend near Effin. Hillclimbing is unique in the sheer variety of machines that can compete and it was the rapid single seater Reynard of Joe Courtney that took the spoils. Courtney posted a stunning time of 57.31 seconds, leading home Rory Stephens in second and John Mahon in third on Saturday. On Sunday Courtney stormed home in 57.56s, with Stephens again in second and Martin Tracey in third.