Sep 19, 2015
The three-way fight to be crowned Carryduff Forklift Road To Wales champion will be decided over six special stages and forty two competitive miles on this Saturday’s Bushwhacker Rally in Omagh. At stake is a free entry and a fully funded drive in a David Greer Motorsport-prepared Citroën DS3 R3 on November’s Wales Rally GB – a prize worth more than thirty thousand pounds (£30,000).
Three drivers are in the hunt but it is Rob Duggan – a 22-year-old from Killarney – who holds the initiative going into the closing round. A runner-up finish to either Kesh’s Jon Armstrong or Omagh’s Alan Smyth will be enough for him and team-mate Ger Conway to seal the overall title. And because a victory isn’t essential on the gravel counter there won’t be as much pressure on the Peugeot duo.
Duggan had the chance to wrap up the series on the penultimate round, but his first DNF of the season on the Lakeland Stages Rally blew the competition wide open. The biggest benefactor of all was Armstrong, who used it as a springboard to take back-to-back wins aboard his similar Peugeot 208 R2. “Hopefully we have better luck this time around compared to the Lakelands,” said Duggan, who admits the relatively low-speed accident has dented his confidence somewhat. “I’m going to the Bushwhacker to give my all and hopefully it will be enough to pull off a good finish. To win would be an amazing achievement. It would be an unreal feeling for me and everyone in the team to come out on top in such a great championship.”
Hoping to deny him will be Armstrong and co-driver Noel O’Sullivan Jnr, who breathed new life into their title bid following a fourth win on the Lakeland Stages Rally. However, a repeat performance on the Bushwhacker won’t guarantee them the prize drive on Wales Rally GB. In order for that to happen, Duggan must finish third or lower. “The only approach open to us is to try and win the last round as it will be our only hope of winning the championship. Whatever else happens is out of our control,” said Armstrong, adding: “I really enjoyed getting back onto gravel again and getting to learn more about the car. It’s really fun to drive, so I’m going to the Bushwacker Rally full of confidence.”
While much of the focus has been on Duggan and Armstrong a third driver has quietly gone about his business, picking up useful points on each round. Although Alan Smyth has not won any events to date, his consistency has more than made up for it. He is tied on points with Armstrong when dropped scores come into play and so, like him, must win and hope Duggan finishes third or lower.
However, with motorsport being anything but predictable, Smyth feels he can upset the odds with another giant-killing performance this weekend. “I knew if we could remain consistent throughout all the rounds, and if we could keep getting strong results, that we wouldn’t be too far away,” said the 28-year-old, who is navigated by Macartan Kierans.
“I was always going to be at a disadvantage to the other top runners as my C2 has less power and is an older specification car – but it can still put up a fight. I’m looking forward to the Bushwhacker as it’s my home event and it will be good to see the locals hanging out of the hedges cheering us on. If we get a good clean run you just don’t know what way it could end.”
Elsewhere, there is still the small matter of fourth place needing to be decided. Castlederg’s Adam Bustard gave his chances of overhauling Dunmurry’s Kyle White a real shot in the arm with a podium finish on the Lakeland Stages Rally last time out. Just five points separate the pair, with both loyal supporters of the Carryduff Forklift Road To Wales initiative. Meanwhile, any one of two drivers – Hillsborough’s Fraser Mulholland and Drumquin’s Ian Dickson – can finish sixth in the overall standings. They both have twenty five points ahead of the deciding round.
The Bushwhacker Rally, which is organised and promoted by Omagh Motor Club, gets underway on Saturday morning from 9.30am and is due to finish at 5.30pm. For further event information and a list of entries please visit www.omaghmotorclub.com. In the meantime, keep up to date with the latest Carryduff Forklift Road To Wales news by following @CFR2Wales on Twitter.
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