WRC Friday Report: Irish in Monte

Saturday is going to be a challenging day for the seven Motorsport Ireland competitions licence holders contesting Rallye Monte Carlo. The action switches west to the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence on Saturday for another 111.78km of competition. Le Fugeret / Thorame-Haute, Malijai / Puimichel and Ubraye / Entrevaux each run twice on either side of another tyre fitting zone in Puget-Théniers.

After Friday’s six-stage section Tyrone-based co-driver, Aaron Johnston is the best of the Irish. He and his driver Takamoto Katsuta enjoyed a trouble-free day and are now holding seventh overall in their Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris Rally. A handbrake issue on Thursday night’s second stage cost valuable time – over 40 seconds – and without it, they could have been fourth or fifth on Friday night. Nevertheless, they set a string of top-four stage times and our now just 2.9 seconds behind Spanish legend Dani Sordo on his Hyundai i20 Rally1.

The two Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy entries are hovering just inside the top 25 overall. Both Josh McErlean and William Creighton are on their first visit to Rallye Monte Carlo – a rally that is daunting to regulars, never mind newcomers. Josh and his new-for-2023 navigator John Rowan 22nd overall in their PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 Rally2 are 22nd.

Speaking at the Regroup control in Puget-Theniers on Friday afternoon Josh said:

“Last night was quite tricky with the weather, we had some small issues before the start of the stage, and it wasn’t ideal going up to the Col de Turini on a Thursday. It is good to have the morning loop over, we have some set-up, and we have adjustments to make to keep it on the road this afternoon.”

William and his navigator Liam Regan are two places behind in a similar car.

“Tricky start to the rally, [last night] a couple of small mistakes on my side but today has been much cleaner, [despite] a half spin,” he said.

Eamonn Boland and Mickey Joe Morrisey are enjoying themselves and hold 37th overall in their new Citroen C3 Rally 2.

“I like the car, “said Eamon, “It is very much like my last Fiesta to drive.”

Boland is contesting his 18th Rallye Monte Carlo.


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