Belfast Telegraph

Rally de France: McCormack’s eyes are on bigger picture

By Sammy Hamill

Marty McCormack has turned his back on a potential €10,000 pay-day to pursue his French ambitions.

Faced with the dilemma of whether to contest the final round of the Irish Citroen Racing Trophy or continue his campaign in the French CTR series, McCormack has chosen to go to this weekend’s Rally de France.

Originally, the 24-year-old Draperstown driver had opted for a potentially lucrative Cork International outing in his Re-Bound Citroen C2R2 Max, figuring the cash pay-out if he won would fund trips to the final two rounds of the French series in which he holds second place.

McCormack, a member of Team UK, says he changed his mind after discussions with officials of Britain’s elite young driver squad.

“I spoke to the coaches at Team UK and they have been tremendously supportive,” he explained. “Next year I hope to move to a programme of IRC or WRC events and the whole purpose of Team UK is to train drivers to be ready for that level of competition.

“To enter Cork was an easy decision and, in many ways, would be a good one,” he said. “However I have my long term career to think about.”

McCormack’s absence from the Cork event presents Dubliner Robert Barrable with the opportunity to win both the Irish and the UK CTR titles. He won the UK series with victory on the final round in Yorkshire at the weekend after the retirement of Mark Donnelly.

Gareth MacHale, in his WRC Ford Focus, heads a Cork entry list which includes Lurgan Park Rally winner Darren Gass in a McKinstry Motorsport Subaru S11 as well as Tim McNulty (Subaru S12) and Alastair Fisher, who is four points behind MacHale in the race for the Irish Tarmac championship.

Top of the Cork entry list: 1 Gareth MacHale (Ford Focus), 2 Tim McNulty (Subaru Impreza), 3 Darren Gass (Subaru Impreza), 4 Aaron MacHale (Ford Focus), 5 Denis Cronin (Subaru Impreza), 6 Craig Breen (Ford Fiesta), 7 Daragh O’Riordan (Subaru Impreza), 8 Alastair Fisher (Mitsubishi Lancer N), 9 Kevin Kelleher (Mitsubishi Lancer N), 10 Owen Murphy (Mitsubishi Lancer N).

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