Pirelli Star Driver Daniel McKenna took a ‘gritty’ victory at the RSAC Scottish Rally and Citroën Racing Trophy this weekend in his Citroën DS3 after a long day in the hot seat, the young Irishman now leads the MSA British Rally Championship points table. With Arthur Kierans alongside, the duo overcame the dusty conditions both in and out the car to take a the event win, maximum points for Citroën in the Constructors’ Championship and the newly formed BRC Gravel Cup with over two minutes in hand from the similar DS3 of Callum Black and Paul Wakeley.
It was clear from the off that McKenna meant business in Scotland, taking a two second lead over rival DS3 crew Osian Pryce & Dale Furniss after the first stage of the event, which took place on Friday night infront of the spectator packed Heathhall. Whilst the 0.7 mile blast may not of meant much to some, the overnight lead was certainly a mental advantage going into the second day and the ‘real’ stages of the event.
Suffering from major dust ingress into the car during the Saturday mornings loop of stages, McKenna would soon lose his slender advantage to the chasing Pryce and was overhauled on the opener in Twiglees. From then on in, Pryce took hold of the rocky Scottish stages and didn’t look back. A spurious stage time on stage 5 for Osian was corrected and he dominated the remainder of the event until gearbox issues on the final stage ended his run to glory.
McKenna was left to cruise home over the final Ae East test, although he admitted “it felt like one of the longest stages in the world” as he crossed the finish podium in Dumfries on Saturday evening. “I have to say that was a tough victory” he explained. “Osian kept us on our toes all day and we were playing catch up most of the morning. The car was faultless and I have to thank the DGM team and Pirelli for all their hard work this weekend. It’s given us a great confidence boost going into the Ulster Rally and the stages there are a lot more familiar, I’m looking forward to it.” His win takes him into the lead of the Championship after entering the event tied on points with Pryce.
With Black taking a well-deserved second overall, the third step of the podium was occupied by BRC RallyTwo frontrunner Dean Raftery and Aileen Kelly in the Ford Fiesta R2. A superb drive from the Irish couple meant they not only took the final podium position, but took the FiestaSport Trophy and RAVENOL Oils Newcomers’ Trophy top score to boot.
Garry Pearson and Dave Robson had been fighting for the top three spot all day long in their potent Peugeot 208 R2 but couldn’t quite make it stick in the tough rocky stages. Robson showed impeccable sportsmanship at the finish, alerting organisers to an incorrectly recorded time which dropped them to their final resting place of forth overall and second in BRC2. Rene Torcato and Jamie Edwards would round off the top three BRC2 crew in their Citroen C2R2MAX, thoroughly enjoying the super-quick Scottish stages.
Whilst the BRC3 class is often considered a newcomers marketplace, the pace certainly wasn’t indicative of its tag. All contenders were swapping seconds throughout the event and it was Gus Greensmith and Melanie Holmes who emerged victorious in their Fiesta R1, taking the British Junior Rally Championship honour for good measure. Just over a minute behind, Johnathan Jones and Chris Williams kept them honest all day and took a worthy second in their similar car.
In the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge Trophy, Ross Hunter and Iain Robson took a well overdue overall and BRC4 victory in their potent Peugeot 205 whilst the Vauxhall Nova of Neil Matthews and Claire Williams did their best best to hunt down the ‘Hunter’ throughout the nine stages of the Challenge event. Seized suspension and a handling problem for Matthews would hamper his efforts to take on the leader and second was a very welcome result after “one of the toughest events I’ve ever done”. It could have been a different story altogether if Citroen C2R2 crew Richard Sykes and Emma Morrison had completed the event, sadly crashing out on a tricky section in the final loop of stages after leading from the very first stage.
After a tough day, MSA British Rally Championship competitors will hope for something a little easier next time out. Some chance though as they head across the Irish Sea to the Toddsleap Ulster Rally for round four of the series which will see the surface change back to the asphalt closed public roads around the Enniskillen rally base in August.