Phil rallies to make stirring start
BY SAMMY HAMILL
Two miles into his debut with the Mitsubishi works team, Phillip Morrow was off the road and in deep trouble.
It was his worst nightmare.
Having battled so hard to get himself into Britain's top team, the 24-year-old Lisburn driver feared his first appearance with the British champions was going to be over almost before it had begun.
Fortunately, his Mitsubishi Lancer ploughed through the undergrowth€ and landed back on the road.
The incident on the first stage of the Pirelli International in the huge Kielder forest complex in the north of England on Friday night rocked Morrow's confidence but it says much for his steely determination that he responded by fighting back to finish in fourth place as his team-mate Guy Wilks, the British champion, took victory ahead of Finn Juho Hanninen.
Morrow would surely have achieved his target of a podium finish but for a damaged gearbox which forced him to drive two-and-a-half stages on Saturday using third gear alone.
Morrow was still pleased with his strong finish and full of praise for the Mitsubishi mechanics who kept him in the rally.
"At the final service they changed the gearbox in 19 minutes which was a magnificent effort and I pushed hard over the last three stages but came up just a bit short. Still, I was pretty happy with the result," he said.
Jonny Greer, from Morrow's old DGM team at Carryduff, also made it into the top 10 with an impressive eighth place in his privately entered Mitsubishi, the 19-year-old UK Ford Fiesta champion showing he is quickly adapting to four-wheel-drive.
Another Ulster 19-year-old, Darren Gass, finished 14th on his debut as Pirelli's Star Driver Award winner.
And there was a stunning performance from yet another local 19-year-old, Alistair Fisher who won the Ford Fiesta Trophy category and also finished in second place overall on the national event which ran alongside the main Pirelli International.
Pirelli International Rally: 1 Guy Wilks and Phil Pugh (Mitsubishi Lancer) 1 hr 31 mins 32.9 secs; 2 Juho Hanninen and Mikko Markkula (Mitsubishi Lancer) + 1 min 05.5 secs; 3 David Higgins and Ieuan Thomas (Subaru Impreza) + 2 mins 40.8 secs; 4 Phillip Morrow and Daniel Barritt (Mitsubishi Lancer) + 2 mins 48.2 secs; 5 Patrik Flodin and Goran Bergsten (Subaru Impreza) + 3 mins 32.8 secs; 6 Stuart Jones and Andy Bull (MG S2000) + 3 mins 55.9 secs; 7 Eyvind Brynildsen and Maria Andersson (Mitsubishi Lancer) + 5 mins 17.1 secs; 8 Jonny Greer and Jonny Hart (Mitsubishi Lancer) + 6 mins 42.4 secs; 9 Wyn Humphreys and Rob Fagg (Subaru Impreza) + 7 mins 34.3 secs; 10 James Wozencroft and Chris Ridge (Subaru Impreza) + 9 mins 14.8 secs.