Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

McGarrity forced to abandon test drive ahead of Easter rally

The weather put paid to Garry Jennings and Robert Woodside's plans for a full-on test ahead of Saturday's Easter Stages Rally

They were due to head south to Roscommon yesterday for the Midlands Rally to put in final preparations for the event which this year replaces the Circuit of Ireland on the Irish Tarmac championship schedule.

For Donegal International winner Jennings it was to be a chance to see if the transmission gremlins which had plagued his S12 Subaru on last month's Galway Rally had been ironed out.

For Woodside, who is returning to rally action to mark the 50th anniversary of his father Ian's 1963 Circuit of Ireland victory, it was all about familiarising himself with an S11 Subaru and getting back up to speed after a decade away from front-line WRC cars.

But the weekend blizzard put paid to their plans, the cars remaining stranded behind four-foot snowdrifts in the workshops of Derek McGarrity's motorsport team in the hills above Mossley village.

"We've been snowed in here for two days," said Northern Ireland champion McGarrity. "The mechanics couldn't even get in to finish preparing the cars and if they had it wouldn't have made any difference – we didn't have any electricity!

"We brought in diggers to clear the road but the drifts were so big it took 12 hours before we could get in or out. It's been a real nightmare."

McGarrity, who will be one of the Easter rally favourites in his S14 Subaru, said he hoped to set up a test run for Jennings and Woodside in the next few days.

Yesterday was scheduled to be the first day for competitors to prepare their pacenotes for the rally but with several stages also blocked by snowdrifts it was called off. New arrangements mean reconnaissance is now allowed from tomorrow morning.

Ireland's Craig Breen has moved up to second place in the European championship after his second place finish for the Peugeot Academy team behind Skoda's Jan Kopecky on the Canary Islands Rally.

Former F1 driver Robert Kubica led overnight by more than a minute before he crashed into a safety barrier early on day two. Kopecky, who won in the Canaries for a third time, leads the series on 76 points with Breen on 58 after three rounds.

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