Rd.7 Rally Ireland

Production Car World Rally Championship
 
16 to 18 November 2007

LEG THREE

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling...

18 November 2007
Copyright © STI 
Northern Irishman Niall McShea and his co-driver Marshall Clarke took a dominant win on the inaugural Rally Ireland this afternoon, crossing the line 44 seconds in front after a titanic battle this morning that saw their chief rival roll out of the event on the penultimate test.

The stage had been set yesterday evening when then-leader and Mitsubishi rival Armindo Araujo sat just 26 seconds ahead of McShea with 55 kilometres left to run today.

Niall delivered right from the word 'go' this morning, scorching through the opening 24.70-km Murley test a crushing 28.3 seconds quicker than the Portuguese, and into the lead as a result. Araujo responded on the next stage, taking back the top spot-though only by a scant 2.8 seconds.

The following test was the decider as Araujo crashed out and Niall ran on through to take his second stage win of the day. Nasser Al Attiyah, who had been running sensibly in fourth, now inherited the final podium position. He picked up the pace on the final stage, setting the third quickest time to finish comfortably in third place.

Copyright © STI 
Behind this pair, local man Colm Murphy, so impressive all weekend, pushed right to the flag in his attempts to overtake Mitsubishi rival Fumio Nutahara. On SS19 alone, he did a "Niall", taking nearly 30 seconds out of the gap to the Japanese. In the end however, it just wasn't enough, and the Irish driver finished just 1.8 seconds in arrears in seventh place. His efforts paid dividends in the form of two P-WRC championship points-plus he set the fastest stage time on the final test of the rally.

The title fight is still alive as Pozzo took second, so SUBARU ace Toshi Arai will have to wait until Wales Rally GB in two weeks' time to see if he will once again become Production class world rally champion.

George Donaldson

STI Group N Project General Manager:
"We started off today knowing there would be a heck of a fight out there. On the first stage, Niall took it straight to Armindo, grabbing the lead on the first stage of the day. On the second stage, Armindo answered and took it back. It really was the fight of the year. If Toshi's drive against Niall in New Zealand was the fight up to that point in the season, then this was even better because it was Mitsubishi against SUBARU, and that makes it a sweeter victory for us. Niall obviously kept the pressure on Armindo, who unfortunately made a small mistake on the second last stage, putting himself out of the rally, leaving Niall to cruise home to a very comfortable victory.

Copyright © STI 
"Nasser Al Attiyah followed up his first two days with a really solid drive today. And make no mistake, Nasser was learning. His times were coming down all the time. I expect he could have gone faster if he'd wanted to, but that's not his style, he gets his notes right, builds on everything and comes back again and blows everyone away. He really enjoyed this weekend and it's brilliant to see that.

"Bringing home the local challenge was Colm Murphy-and what a brilliant job he did! He struggled away with many problems, including receiving a six-minute road penalty, but he didn't lose heart, he got himself back on an even keel and took 7th in the P-WRC as a result. He picks up two P-WRC points and that's fantastic for him.

"Poor old Leszek Kuzaj had retired again yesterday with another little mistake when he took a wheel off the car, and then Patrik Flodin had a small problem with the transmission today which pulled him out of the event - very sorry to see that happening.

"We're all set for Wales Rally GB in two weeks' time. It's going to be a phenomenal battle. We've got all our P-WRC stars apart from Toshi and Nasser there. Everyone else is going to be out there trying to beat Pozzo into first place and ensure Toshi takes his second P-WRC crown in his SUBARU."


Pos Driver Car Name Time   Diff  
1 Niall McSHEA SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:18:11.3 0.0
2 Gabriel POZZO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:18:55.4 +44.1
3 Nasser Saleh AL-ATTIYAH SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:22:42.4 +4:31.1
4 Simone CAMPEDELLI Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:24:47.2 +6:35.9
5 Štěpán VOJTĚCH Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:26:45.4 +8:34.1
6 Fumio NUTAHARA Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:27:32.8 +9:21.5
7 Colm MURPHY SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:27:34.6 +9:23.3
8 Philip MORROW Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:28:46.9 +10:35.6
9 Jasen POPOV Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:35:03.7 +16:52.4
10 Stuart M. JONES Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:38:10.7 +19:59.4