DMACK Fastest As Evans Blitzes Opposition on Circuit
DMACK’s Elfyn Evans and Craig Parry continue to lead the 2016 MSA British Rally Championship after setting the highest number of fastest stage times and leading the iconic Circuit of Ireland rally this weekend.
The Welsh pair took the event by storm, posting quickest times on six special stages, but were forced into an early retirement on the third test yesterday while holding a commanding 12.4 second lead. Using DMACK’s new DMT-RC2 asphalt tyre they blitzed the field, which included top drivers from the European Rally Championship equipped with Michelin and Pirelli tyres.
Evans has limited experience of the tricky Northern Irish stages but was easily the quickest driver through Thursday’s qualifying stage – his extra soft compound tyres delivering leading performance on the muddy and treacherously slippery stage.
He continued to dominate in his Autotek-run Ford Fiesta R5 car when the rally began with classic mountain and coastal stages through Glendun and Torr Head on Friday. However, an overheating engine on stage three saw him sidelined for the day. He returned today and again set fastest times on all but one of the stages he completed – enough to maintain a 20 point lead at the top of the championship table.
Max Vatanen from Finland and French co-driver Jacques-Julien Renucci had a confident Irish debut on bumpy, technical roads which are notoriously difficult to master. Cheered on by father and former world rally champion Ari, son Max mastered both the classic Irish stages and the changeable weather with style.
He was trading times with many of the local drivers and had climbed to 13th position, but a faulty oil pressure sensor on stage seven meant he had to park his Fiesta up and was unable to complete the remainder of the event.
Matt Edwards continues to lead the BRC2 category for DMACK after finishing second this weekend while Irishman Rob Duggan took a popular home win for the Vauxhall Motorsport Junior team when he sealed the top step of the podium in the DMACK Junior BRC championship.
This was the 85th running of the Circuit of Ireland – one of the oldest rallies in the world – and it was another supreme test of endurance, skill and interpretation of the weather. Sun, rain, thunder and hail all battered the region during the two-day event, making tyre choice an educated guess at best.
DMACK used both its extra soft and soft compound tyres to great effect, delivering rally-leading performance in some seriously demanding conditions. The Irish country lanes feature high-speed sections with unsettling bumps, jumps and blind crests. And when drivers cut corners in search of the quickest racing line, mud and gravel gets dragged onto the road.
While the rally was based in Belfast, Friday’s opening day featured six stages in County Antrim split by a remote service zone. Today’s action moved south to the fast, flowing country stages in County Down including the thrilling Hamilton’s Folly stage with its famous jumps.
MSA British Rally Championship for Drivers
1.Elfyn Evans / Craig Parry (DMACK): 50
2.Josh Moffett / John Rowan (Pirelli): 30
3.Jonathan Greer / Kirsty Riddick (Pirelli): 18
Elfyn Evans, DMACK British Rally Team driver, said: “When things were going well we had a really strong pace and set a number of fastest times even when the leaders were battling today. Everything was working pretty well and I was pushing hard in most places. We didn’t have the luck this weekend but it’s encouraging to know the performance on Tarmac is there.”
Max Vatanen, DMACK British Rally Team driver, said: “Overall it was a really positive weekend for my first time on Tarmac with this type of car. The stages were very difficult but we had prepared well for the rally and tried to keep things steady on the first day. Everything was working really well and it’s a shame we just couldn’t continue to learn from today’s stages.”
Glenn Patterson, DMACK British Rally Team manager, said: “The overall result wasn’t what we were after but it’s been a superb weekend when you consider how Elfyn and the new asphalt tyres have performed. They coped with a huge mix of difficult conditions and consistently delivered leading stage times. It was also promising to see just how competitive the Junior BRC drivers were in what was an extremely high-class field.”