Rd.7 Rally Ireland

Production Car World Rally Championship
16 to 18 November 2007


McShea Closes In as Nasser Moves Up
Flodin sets the pace from the back

17 November 2007
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Day two of the inaugural Rally Ireland proved just as tough as the opening leg, though for entirely different reasons. Yesterday's mud - strewn stages were replaced by full - wet conditions, making the wildly varying tarmac surface treacherous in a more typically slick manner.

The day comprised two loops of three stages, punctuated by a mid - day Service. Running a total of 118 competitive kilometres, it was considerably shorter than the opener, but nonetheless enough to see a good deal of drivers go off.

The title fight:
One of those caught out was chief protagonist in the fight for the P - WRC title, Mark Higgins in the Mitsubishi. His roll out of contention on one of the afternoon's stages means that IMPREZA runner Toshi Arai is that much closer to taking his second world championship title. The only thing standing in his way now is if Argentine driver Gabriele Pozzo finishes second or higher tomorrow - and then wins in Britain in two weeks' time.

The morning started off dry, but showers and then full - on rain hit the stages just a little over an hour into competition. At the first Service, many drivers complained that although the roads were better than yesterday, the very wet conditions combined with varying grip levels made things very difficult.

Niall McShea continued to lead the SUBARU runners, whittling down the gap to the pair in front as he ran third on five of the day's six tests. His pace earned him stage wins on the final two tests of the day. On SS15, when Higgins went off, he snatched 2nd; and ended the day just 26.4 seconds behind new leader Araujo. With 55 kilometres to go tomorrow, McShea was confident of taking the fight to the front. "Armindo's run a good race, and if he wins it, he probably deserves it - but don't think for a second I'm going to give it to him. I'll be fighting for that first place every step of the way - and he knows it!"

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Nasser Al Attiyah was another to hold station throughout the leg, running fifth all day until Higgins' off. He had positive comments from his day's running, saying: "It's been much better today. We've run faster in these conditions, although it's still very slippery. I'm happy to be fourth, and am looking forward to tomorrow." If the battle for first claims any casualties in the morning, Nasser could well find himself on the podium.

After a thoroughly disappointing leg one, Swedish driver Patrik Flodin really got into a rhythm in the morning stages, winning all three of the pre - lunchtime tests. Although he's way down the order after the many difficulties he faced yesterday, his progress and pace showed the Patrik Flodin we are used to. "I'm very happy now, despite being so far back. It's pleasing to have the car working well; my aim is to keep this pace tomorrow as well."

The wild card entry, double Irish Group N champion Colm Murphy had a day to remember where he showed great pace, though had a minor off which caused a delay. He's presently just out of the P - WRC points in ninth, hoping to move up tomorrow. "It's fantastic to be running here against the WRC guys, and really exciting to see this event happening here in Ireland. The tarmac up in this part of the country is very different to what we're used to, it's much rougher - but we're having a great rally."

George Donaldson

STI Group N Project General Manager:
"We started out today looking like we were a little out of the fight - except for one man, Niall McShea who has really pulled out all the stops for us. He has dug in, pressured the guys in front, getting past Pozzo and closing the gap to current leader Araujo.

On top of that, Patrik Flodin took a very heavily cut tyre in the morning, mae the car work, and took three fastest times in the morning - an outstanding performance for him. He went out with a slightly different cut tyre this afternoon and again set very impressive times.

In amongst all this action, Nasser Al Attiyah has been building up his experience and moved into fourth place. He's a very intelligent driver, a real tactician. He knows he's coming back here in two years' time; he's been a world champion once, and he wants to achieve that again.

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A little further back, we've got Colm Murphy doing a great job. Unfortunately, he picked up a six - minute road penalty on the first leg. Without that, he'd be close in the fight between Gabriele and Nasser. He's showing a great level from a regional champion here in Ireland.

All in all, it's going to be another very, very tricky day tomorrow. I don't believe the action's over for one minute. Armindo in the Mitsubishi never gives up, Niall just relishes the chance to catch someone, and no one will do more than him to do it. He's the one that predicted it would all be decided by a puncture or an excursion. The man's not wrong. Let's wait and see what happens tomorrow."

The final leg of Rally Ireland takes in four stages totaling 55kms, the event rounding off with the scenic oceanside Mullaghmore test.

Pos Driver Car Name Time   Diff  
1 Armindo ARAUJO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:45:04.9 0.0
2 Niall McSHEA SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 2:45:31.3 +26.4
3 Gabriel POZZO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:45:51.8 +46.9
4 Nasser Saleh AL-ATTIYAH SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 2:48:03.6 +2:58.7
5 Simone CAMPEDELLI Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:49:43.6 +4:38.7
6 Philip MORROW Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:51:21.4 +6:16.5
7 Štěpán VOJTĚCH Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:52:06.2 +7:01.3
8 Fumio NUTAHARA Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:52:44.5 +7:39.6
9 Colm MURPHY SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 2:54:05.0 +9:00.1
10 Jasen POPOV Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:54:12.3 +9:07.4