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GP Week : Issue 54
>>RALLYREPORT Higgins at home on Rally Isle of Man MARK Higgins scored a record fifth win on his home event, the all-asphalt Isle of Man Rally, fourth round of the British national series, despite differential and then clutch troubles en route. As predicted Irishman Keith Cronin pushed him hard. Cronin lost time on Day 1 with rear differential trouble after taking the lead for three stages. He later caught up when Higgins had his differential problems. Midday through Day 2 Cronin was less than five seconds behind Higgins but suffered a front wheel puncture which caused him to settle for a safe second place. As usual the fast narrow asphalt lanes of the island led to many untoward incidents. On Stage 4 David Bogie spun and jammed his Mitsubishi between two banks, causing the stage to be neutralized; Jonathan Greer rolled his Mitsubishi when in third place; then Adam Gould rolled his Subaru with three stages to go when fourth. In a remarkable third place was Alistair Fisher in an Evo IX. He is the nephew of the late Bertie Fisher, one of Ulster’s most successful rally drivers, and Pirelli awarded Alistair the Star Driver of the event. Martin McComack finished an extraordinary seventh place overall in his Citroen C2 R2 Max, the best placed two-wheel drive car, after the Renaults of Matti Rantanen and Tom Walster were ahead earlier on. Australian lady driver Molly Taylor crashed and retired her Suzuki and Craig Breen crashed his Fiesta. The Isle of Man Rally attracted 125 entries in the various categories and this year was run in a shortened two-day rather than three-day format. Mark and Keith are now level- Rally Isle of Man 1 M Higgins/Thomas Subaru Impreza N11 2 Cronin/.Shinnors Mitsubishi Lancer IX 3 Fisher/Kennedy Mitsubishi Lancer IX 2h37m47.2s 2h39m13.6s 2h44m12.5s spain on top in Rally of Nations THE ground breaking Rally of Nations, held as a gap-year activity by the organisers of the World Championship Rally of Mexico, was won by a two-car team of drivers from Spain, even though Austrian drivers Manfred Stohl and Andreas Aigner individually finished first and second in overall results. The three-day event was run for organiser- supplied Group N or locally entered two-wheel drive cars, using gravel stages from the WRC event, with additional downtown asphalt street stages on the first two days in the headquarters town of Leon. From over the Atlantic teams came from Austria, Sweden, Finland, Germany, France and Britain, while from the Americas Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay ,USA and Mexico itself were represented. Rally of Nations 1 Stohl/Minor 2 Aigner/Weissenbruber 3 Auriol/Giraudet Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX Austria 2h57m38.7s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX Austria Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX France 2h57m43.1s 2h59m14.6s Spain 1067.5 points, Austria 939.5, France 71.0. Germany 542.5, Sweden 422.5, Mexico #2 320.0, Finland 240.0, USA#2 191.5, Mexico #1 127.0, Italy 13.0. 43 Teams in trouble included Sweden (Andersson lost a wheel and Sandell’s engine failed), Finland (steering trouble for both Gardemeister and Rovanpera) and Britain, (McShea clutch and Morrow went off the road on the first stage). Spanish driver Sola punctured when leading and then lost his brakes but restarted on Day 2, French driver Tirabassi retired on Day 2 with engine failure. The rally really turned around on Stage 6, suddenly changing from Spanish domination into an Austrian fiesta. Apart from the usual times taken on stages, the Rally of Nations concept was based on financial incentives, with US$500 going to the driver winning each stage, US$5000 to the winning team each day and US$50,000 going to the overall winning team. pegging in the BRC with two wins and two second places apiece with two events to go. With Mark’s brother David winning in China this week, the Higgins family had a lot to celebrate.