Belfast Telegraph

Rivals fall to help Niall McShea net Chinese takeaway

By SAMMY HAMILL

Niall McShea and co-driver Marshall Clarke flew back from China barely believing they had won the Longyou Rally.

It took a real twist of fate to hand the Ulster pair their first Chinese Championship victory and Clarke will be hoping his luck holds for Britain's round of the World championship, Wales Rally GB, next week.

Clarke then teams up with Keith Cronin for the final round of the Citroen Top Driver series in which they are challenging for a career-making opportunity to contest six rounds of next year's World Championship in a WRC2 category Citroen funded by the French manufacturer.

McShea arrived in China to discover his Red Bull Skoda team had prepared a locally-built Fabia with a 1.6 turbo engine instead of his regular S2000 car and his initial fears were confirmed when he trailed Jari Ketomaa and Mark Higgins by more than 90 seconds after the first three stages.

McShea and Clarke hung on in third place and were in perfect position when the rally took a dramatic twist, Ketomaa retiring his Soueast VW with a blown engine when he was 29 seconds ahead of Higgins, who was excluded for a technical infringement.

It left McShea leading into the final leg by some six minutes from the Subaru of local driver Han Han and he set fastest times on the remaining stages to win by over eight minutes.

Meanwhile, Wayne Boyd endured frustration at the end-of-season Walter Hayes Trophy Formula Ford event at Silverstone.

England's Scott Malvern was the winner with Kevin O'Hara the best placed of the Irish drivers in third. Former British champion Boyd was fastest in qualifying and went on to win his first round comfortably, but he was later disqualified because of an issue with the nose cone of his Van Diemen, leaving him to try to make his way through via the 'progression' and 'last chance' races.

Boyd started the 'progression' race from 20th on the grid and flew through to win by eight seconds, giving him a 30th place start in the 'last chance' race.

Again he made rapid progress and was up to sixth when he was shunted off the track by another driver, ending his hopes of victory in one of the few Formula Ford events he hasn't won.

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