Belfast Telegraph

Irish Mitsubishi Challenge: Neil McCance on his last chance

By Sammy Hamill

Twice Neil McCance’s family and friends have had to put an end-of-season holiday to Cyprus on hold.

Twice the Belfast steel company director has been on the point of winning the Irish Mitsubishi Challenge and twice he has blown it, scuppering the plans of his closest supporters to fly out for the Cyprus Rally in November when the winners of the Irish, UK and Swedish Mitsubishi Challenges will go head-to-head on the final round of the Intercontinental Challenge.

Back-to-back wins in mid-season put McCance in pole position to retain his Irish Mitsubishi title but successive crashes on the last two rounds have allowed rivals Sam Moffett and Brendan Cumiskey to close right up.

Now McCance, who returned to rallying last year just six weeks after a life-saving operation to remove one of his kidneys, goes to the final round in Wexford this weekend facing a winner-takes-all situation.

He knows it should never have come to this and admits he changed his tactics during the ALMC and Ulster rallies, driving with Challenge points in mind rather than sticking to his usual attacking approach.

“I’ve discovered I’m not very good at playing tactical games,” he says. “I had a good lead in each of the last two rounds but backed off, just going for a finish, and lost concentration.

“I put the car off the road because I wasn’t totally focused.

“In fact on the Ulster Rally we were having the most boring rally I can remember, just driving down the middle of the road for the most part, and I completely missed a pace-note call from my co-driver Johnny Hart.

“We went straight through a hedge into a field. I don’t think I even touched the brakes. Complete brain fade. I’d managed to grab failure out of the hands of victory again.”

He says his tactics in Wexford will be simply to drive the rally stage-by-stage and put the points situation out of his head.

“I’ll try to do what I usually do — drive as quick as I can and let fate take care of the rest,” he says.

If McCance wins and qualifies for the Cyprus trip, he is likely to be joined by fellow Ulsterman Jonny Greer, leader of the UK series, the two of them driving Evo 9 Mitsubishis prepared by the same DGM team from Carryduff.

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