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Rallying: Allen hoping three's a charm

By Sammy Hamill

Glenn Allen has been forced to switch to a third different car to continue his challenge for the Northern Ireland rally championship.

The Cookstown driver, who led the series through the first half of the season, will not have his own Toyota Corolla, nor the similar car of Irish national champion Charlie Donnelly, which he has used in the past, for Saturday's eighth round of the in Tyrone.

Instead Allen is expected to be at the wheel of another WRC Corolla from the McGeehan Motorsport stable in Draperstown, the right-hand-drive version belonging to Denis Heaney.

Allen's own Corolla was so heavily damaged when he crashed on the Raven's Rock Rally in Tipperary back in June that it had to be sent to Toyota specialist Erik Wevers in Holland. And it has been stuck there ever since.

He borrowed Donnelly's Corolla for the Dogleap Rally last month, finishing in fourth place, but was forced to miss the Lakeland Rally a fortnight ago because the Donnelly car was being readied for Sunday's Clare Stages down south.

But any hopes of using it this weekend were scuppered when Donnelly crashed and it, too, now has to be re-built.

Yesterday Allen was testing the Heaney car, which is of similar specification but will mean he will have to re-adjust again to right-hand-drive.

All of this has seen Allen's one-time comfortable position at the top of the NI standings eroded and now Stephen Moore, the new Irish national forest champion, has him under pressure.

Indeed, Moore's second victory of the season on the Lakeland event has taken him to the top of the table with a 10-point lead over Allen.

But the scoring system allows drivers to drop their worst results at the end of the season and, for the moment, that still gives Allen the edge with four maximum scores to Moore's two.

However, his car problems have allowed Moore to gain momentum.

"Yes, we're leading the championship but only on paper so we have to keep winning," was Moore's attitude.

Brian McGillin, who is also the rally sponsor, is seeded at No.1 in his Hyundai Accent with Allen at two, Moore at three and Raymond Johnston at four. But right behind them are two potential winners, Sean Devine, who came so close to beating Moore on the last round, and Robbie McGurk, the Bushwhacker master with seven victories to his credit.

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