Lakeland Rally: Allen unable to cause a splash at Lakeland
Glenn Allen's hopes of becoming Northern Ireland rally champion have been dealt a blow.
He'll miss Saturday's seventh round, the Lakeland Stages Rally in Fermanagh.
The championship leader's Toyota Corolla is still in Holland, where it was sent some two months ago to be repaired following Allen's major accident on the Raven's Rock Rally south of the border.
It should have been back in time for last month's Dogleap Rally but Allen had to resort to a Corolla borrowed from Charlie Donnelly and he managed to stay top of the table with third place points.
Today he admitted he doesn't know when his car is going to be back but it won't be in time for the Lakeland event this weekend – and he may not have it for the Bushwhacker Rally a fortnight later.
"It has turned into a real mess," says the Cookstown driver.
"The car should have been back weeks ago but Erik Weaver and the boys in Holland have been very busy apparently with their other Toyota and Skoda commitments and haven't had time to get it finished.
"But that isn't much consolation to me. I was able to borrow Charlie's Corolla for the last round but he's going to the Clare Rally the following week and the engine is already scheduled for a re-build and they don't want to risk trying to fit in another rally.
" There's nothing I can do about the Lakeland Stages but I'm just crossing my fingers that the car will be ready for the Bushwhacker on September 22.
"Missing one round isn't a complete disaster, because I would have to drop a score anyway, but being out of two rallies could turn the whole championship around."
Allen currently leads the Pacenotes series by six points from Stephen Moore but the Pomeroy driver is on a real high at the moment.
He beat Allen on the Dogleap to close the gap slightly but then went on to clinch the Irish forestry championship in Cork and last weekend emphasised his forest credentials by winning the final round in Killarney, beating the new British gravel champion Marcus Dodd in the process.
If he wins the Fisher Engineering-sponsored, Ballinamallard-based event on Saturday, Moore will take over the NI series lead.
Although Moore, too, must drop a score at some point, it will be Allen who will be playing catch-up with just three rounds remaining.
In Allen's absence, it will be Sean Devine who heads the Lakeland line-up in his Subaru with Moore starting next.
Garry Jennings is highest seeded production driver at No.6 in his Mitsubishi with Niall McShea at seven.
However, former World production champion McShea was in New Zealand last weekend, finishing second in the PWRC section, and it remains to be seen whether he makes the start of his home rally.
Definitely out is Neil McCance whose high hopes of taking the NI production title suffered a major set-back when his Mitsubishi was heavily damaged on last weekend's Ulster International.
McCance was briefly knocked unconscious when he crashed on Saturday morning and although, thankfully, he and co-driver Ian Windress, who was taken to hospital, are now both fine, the car is not and will take some time to repair.
For the first time the rally features a round of the Irish Ford Fiesta Trophy competition in which 18-year-old Ulster drivers Alastair Fisher and Jonny Greer are battling it out at the top of the table. Young Alastair, nephew of the late Bertie Fisher, currently leads Greer by two points going into what would be his home rally.
Top of the entry list: 2 Sean Devine and Damien Duffin (Subaru Impreza); 3 Stephen Moore and Tony McHugh (Ford Focus); 4 Raymond Johnston and Richard Bell (Subaru Impreza); 5 Richard Hogg and Mark Hanna (Skoda Octavia); 6 Garry Jennings and Rory Kennedy (Mitsubishi Lancer); 7 Niall McShea and Marshall Clarke (TBA); 9 Errol Clarke and Sean Ferris (Mitsubishi Lancer); 10 Eoin McErlean and Donard McCann (Mitsubishi Lancer); 11 Raymond Mason and Peter Martin (Mitsubishi Lancer); 12 Howard Clarke and Jason Harron (Mitsubishi Lancer); 14 Richard Cathcart and Paul McLoughlin (Subaru Impreza); 15 Kevin O'Kane and Martin Brady (Subaru Impreza); 16 Craig Bennett and Alan Shilliday (Metro 6R4).