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Reigning BRC champion Mark Higgins maintained his lead in the third
round of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship on Rally
Isle of Man as weather and grip levels provided the greatest challenge
to competitors on the twisty, bumpy and fast island roads of the world
famous event.
Stobart VK Subaru driver Higgins, born on the island although now living
in Wales, used his local knowledge of both the roads and the highly
changeable weather conditions and made the best of the eleven stages and
95 stage miles which made up the second day of the hotly contested
"I've never had it so slippery before in my life," said Higgins,
co-driven by Rory Kennedy. "The last stage today was unbelievable. We
went out for the last loop today and took the first one nice and steady
as we could see how slippery it was and we were third fastest overall.
The final one was horrendous."
There was a change for second place of the BRC runners as Mitsubishi
Motors UK's Ryan Champion displaced Suzuki S1600 runner Guy Wilks during
the day. Pirelli International Rally winner Champion honed his chassis
settings on the challenging route. "We were getting the car working
better, it was okay everywhere just not great anywhere and we didn't
have the speed in the fast stuff. It got better on the bumps, we were
just playing with clicks and the rebound," said Champion, co-driven by
Craig Thorley.
It was not to last as Champion had a off on the treacherously slippery
final stage of the day, losing a wheel and retiring from the event. "It
was like glass and we had no grip at all," he said. "We tried to slow
down but we couldn't and we clipped a bank and took a wheel off."
Champion's departure meant that both works Mitsubishi Motors UK drivers
were out of the event, Rory Galligan and co-driver Greg Shinnors having
exited the event with a roll on earlier in the day on SS12, Rye Hill.
"We were too stiff on the bumps, wrong tyres and nothing was right at
the start today," said Galligan. "We then tried Ryan's set-up and it was
better and we were quite happy we had the car sorted. We were looking
for a bit more pace, then the rain came back and on a slippery stretch
we understeered, went up bank and the next moment we were on the roof."
Guy Wilks returned to the second position of the BRC runners after
Champion's exit, continuing a superb run from the Darlington driver in
the two-wheel drive Ignis against his four-wheel drive rivals. "The
final stage today was ridiculous, I'd have had a better chance with ice
skates," said Wilks, co-driven by Phil Pugh. "In fifth and sixth gear
even in the Suzuki the wheels were spinning and in the corners you lose
so much momentum. It's great to be where we are against all the
four-wheel drive cars."
Two time BRC champion and Rally Isle of Man winner Jonny Milner found
better pace in his Team Merlin International Mitsubishi Evo IX, ending
the day leading the Mitsubishi Evo Challenge and in third position of
the BRC competitors. "The last stage was certainly worse than normal and
we had a couple of overshoots in the stage before that too, but its good
to end the day in third. We've extended the Evo Challenge lead and taken
a chunk out of the cars ahead and we're pushing harder now the car is
working for us, but we're just mindful of the Evo challenge points,
things are coming, I'm just not 100% happy yet, there's still more to
Second in the S1600 class and 17th in the overall rally standings
including the WRC cars of the Irish Tarmac Championship, Stobart VK
M-Sport Ford Rally Team driver Barry Clark had an interesting day
involving an incident with a pheasant.. "I hit a pheasant," Clark,
co-driven by Scott Martin explained. "I saw it coming but hit the screen
right in front of me, I shut my eyes and it shattered the screen exactly
where I would be looking through, it couldn't have been worse for
visibility, but other than that it seemed pretty good today, confidence
is definitely coming over the bumps."
Back at the front of the rally Mark Higgins has a three minute lead
heading into the final day, but he's taking nothing for granted.
"There's still 65 miles to go and that's a national rally in itself.
We've got three minutes on Guy but that's only a puncture and he'll be
right with us. It's not over till it's over."
Leg three, the final of Rally Isle of Man, starts at the TT Grandstand
at 08:10 on Saturday 5th of August, finishing at the same location at
15.45 after 69 miles of stage distance later. The rally prize
presentation then takes place at Villa Marina on Douglas Promenade at
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