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One of the leading international entries in next month’s International Otago Rally has had to withdraw from the event, three weeks before the April 8 and 9 rally.

Australian-based Irishman, Richie Dalton, and his Shamrock Motorsport team finally ran out of time to get their brand new Ford Fiesta Proto ready in time for the event.

In an announcement on social media, Dalton explained:

“Unfortunately today the team had to make the very tough decision to pull out of the first round of the New Zealand Rally Championship in Otago in 3 weeks.

“With our brand new Ford Fiesta due to leave Sydney next Friday, there just isn't enough time. The seven month delivery delay from Poland has finally caught up with us.

“We have started the car overnight for the first time and programmed it, all systems are good, and it’s due for the dyno tomorrow and hopefully will be completely finished by early next week.

“Our only issue is we have not sat in the car yet, and would therefore have no time to test the car before it leaves.

“On such a huge project as this, testing is absolutely essential to make sure everything we have designed and fabricated works, and that there are no issues, mechanical or electrical, but to also understand how the car handles and reacts and to find its limits.

“We feel by keeping the car in Australia for an extra few weeks to complete a test program, will give us the best opportunity to be confident in the car for round two and the rest of the New Zealand Rally Championship,” Dalton said.

The Otago Rally this week announced a record entry of over 130 cars, including several new AP4 spec machines that are set to be debuted.

- Peter Whitten

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