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McCormack excited by Polo gamble ahead of Cork Rally finale

 

Marty McCormack
Marty McCormack

By Sammy Hamill

Marty McCormack has pulled a major surprise ahead of the final round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, the Cork '20' International at the end of the month.

The former British Junior champion from Draperstown will become the first driver to appear in an Irish event in an R5 Volkswagen Polo, a car which has already chalked up notable victories across Europe.

Until now, McCormack has driven Ford Fiestas and Skoda Fabias in the R5 division at World, British and Irish Championship level but has been tempted by the growing reputation of the VW Polo.

"I have been really enjoying driving the Skoda this season but I've been exploring other options for some time now, and when the opportunity came up to drive the Polo, it didn't take long for me to say yes," he enthused.

"I've heard some great reports about the car in Europe, but of course that is a far cry from the Irish lanes, so it may take some time to find the right set-up for Cork. But that's part of the excitement for me and it will be a real challenge to get it right from the word go."

The car will be run by the Dom Buckley Motorsport team from Scotland and McCormack will have a pre-Cork test within the next few days.

He slots into the entry list at No.3, the line-up headed in the absence of new champion Craig Breen and Alastair Fisher by the breakthrough driver of this year's Championship, Callum Devine.

The former British Junior champion from Park has been consistently in the top three of the series in his first full year at the wheel of an R5 Fiesta.

Jonny Greer, fresh from his second place in the Galloway Hills Rally, the final round of the British Championship, is at No.2, and the remainder of the top six is completed by young Welshman Meirion Evans, Daniel Cronin and Andrew Purcell, all in R5 Fiestas.

Cathan McCourt, the new Irish Forestry champion, is at No.7 ahead of five-time Tarmac champion Eugene Donnelly, who is scheduled to appear in the new R5 Proton Iriz.

Stepping up to the R5 division for the first time in a Hyundai i20 will be Jordan Hone, the 23-year-old from Claudy who has been a leading contender in the British Junior series.

"The Tarmac Championship has had great R5 entries throughout the year so it'll be a great chance to compare myself against these guys in similar machinery, although I'm only expecting to learn, develop and improve with every stage," said Hone, who gets the opportunity thanks to finishing runner-up in Motorsport Ireland's Coleman Awards.

Meanwhile, Wayne Boyd returns to one of his favourite circuits, Spa, for the penultimate round of the European Le Mans prototype series this weekend.

Boyd and his United Autosports team-mates, American Garret Grist and Brazilian Thomas Erdos, are third in the LMP3 category but are chasing their first win of the season at a circuit where United won last year.

"We come to Spa on the back of three consecutive podiums which has put us third in the Championship, which is great, but obviously we want to win," said the Templepatrick driver.

"The last two rounds we have been very unlucky with first-lap incidents, which puts us on the back foot, but for us to be able to drag the car back up to third shows the pace we have."

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