Marty McCormack will put his French Citroen Racing Trophy ambitions on hold in an effort to remain Irish champion — and collect a handsome cheque.
He will take his Re-Bound Citroen C2R2 Max to the final round of the Irish CTR series on the Cork ‘20’ International instead of returning to France for the Alsace Rally which takes place on the same weekend at the beginning of next month.
Having won the UK and Irish CTR titles in the past two years, the 24-year-old Draperstown driver set his sights on making it a hat-trick by going to Citroen’s backyard and contesting the French series. And he has done well, holding second place in the points standings after last weekend’s Rallye Mont Blanc.
But despite his frequent French trips, McCormack has managed to fit in most of the Irish rounds and finds himself leading the points race from Robert Barrable who has also been dividing his attention between the Irish and UK championships.
And with €10,000 to the winner, both will go to Cork for a final round showdown.
“I talked it over with the Citroen people at the Mont Blanc Rally and they felt I could miss the Alsace Rally and come back for the final two rounds in France with a good chance of at least taking one of the top three places,” he said.
“It has been a big learning experience in France this year and I feel I’m a much better driver for it.
“Mont Blanc for example was my first Alpine rally and it was like nothing I had done before. I didn’t realise how little I knew about brakes and engine mapping!
“At final service before the last two stages over the 2000m Col de Joux we were advised to change from our 98 octane fuel and the Citroen technicians provided a new engine map to allow it to run on Elf 102 octane racing fuel.
“The difference was enormous. The car kept pulling right to the top of the mountains — I never knew what a huge part altitude could play.”
Unfortunately the change didn’t come soon enough to allow McCormack to regain the second place he’d lost with a huge spin on the Samoens Village super-special stage and he finished in third.
“We still came away with good points and even if I miss the Alsace round I have a real chance of a podium or even winning the French series.”