06 Dec 2007

MacHale Team Impress on Rally Ireland

MacHale Team - Rally Ireland
18th November ‘07

aamachale_night_shot_custom.jpg Maxol Lubricants backed MacHale Team drivers Gareth MacHale, Brother Aaron and father Austin all finished impressively on Rally Ireland after a difficult and challenging first visit of the WRC event to the North West. Huge expectation awaited the rally’s debut in the championship as the penultimate round of the 16 event series. The rally got off to a spectacular start with the three Maxol sponsored Ford Focus WR cars of the team lined up to tackle the tight and twist short speed test at Stormont Castle in Belfast with all three drivers posting respectable top twenty times.

The MacHale cars started the long leg one of the event on Friday steadily with all three drivers posting respectable times on the opening tests. The day saw the crews covering 167km of stages based close to rally HQ in Sligo with centralized service in the Institute of Technology. Gareth MacHale in the 06 Ford Focus experienced difficulties on the day’s early stages as he tried to settle into a rhythm, clawing his way back from 26th to finish the day 10th overall 3 seconds behind Tim McNulty. Aaron and Austin had relatively trouble free runs as they piloted there cars to finish the day in 15th and 18th respectively.

aumachale_stormount_custom.jpg A mix of caution and when appropriate speed served the MacHale team cars on day two of the event as the Maxol supported team continued there climb up the leader board of Rally Ireland. Heavy rain left standing water covering the narrow and twisty lanes as the event tackled a further six stages based in the North of the country. Gareth started the day impressively posting 8th, 7th and 6th quickest times on the opening three stages, while his brother Aaron followed moving up two places on the overall leader board. “We are going really well I am enjoying these stages and have my sights set on trying to catch Matthew Wislon” commented Gareth at the days midday service halt. The afternoon though ended for the third of the MacHale cars driven by five times tarmac champion Austin when he broke a steering arm on a series of difficult jumps towards the end of the last stage of the day. Austin was unable to get the car back to service and had to re-enter the rally under ‘Super Rally’ rules on Sunday. “It was a pity it happened we were going well at the time and really enjoying the stages” commented Austin. The team cars finished the day with Gareth 8th, Aaron 13th and Austin 30th due to his cars mechanical failure.

The final leg of Rally Ireland covered both sides of the border, after an early start in Sligo competitors tackled two tests in the North followed by two in the south including the final test at Mullaghmore providing a picture postcard backdrop for live television coverage. Gareth started the day with his sights firmly set on catching Matthew Wilson but a spin on the 24km opening test put pay to Gareth’s plans to clinch 7th place from the young English driver. Aaron in the ’05 Ford Focus RS was focused on opening a gap between him and his nearest rival Svedlund who was only 7.4 seconds behind starting the day. Meanwhile Austin and co-driver Brian Murphy started the day 30th after the MacHale team mechanics spent the previous evening putting their ’03 Ford Focus RS back on the road.

b_mcgillen_custom.jpg An estimated 50,000 people lined the grass covered banks along the route of the final test Mullaghmore as the MacHale teams cars all crossed the finish line to cap what was a world first for three members of the same family to compete in a WRC event. Gareth brought his BF Goodrich shod Focus home in 8th place scoring one valuable championship point his second points scoring success on a WRC  since his two points on Rally Mexico. Aaron, the current National title holder, followed home 12th overall an impressive result for his first ever outing on a WRC event with father Austin climbing to 25th overall. Gareth commented at the finish “I honestly didn’t think it was possible to get a top 10 finish after the problems we had on Friday dropping us to 26th. So to do that, let alone score a World Championship point, in front on the home fans is a dream come true.”

Pictured on right hand side is  Brian Gillen, Winner of the Maxol WRC Rally Experience and guest of the MacHale Rally team.

For more information: Contact Alan Binley +353 (0) 86 2582 663

News of the Overall Rally

machale_team_drivers_custom.jpg Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) survived a late scare to win his eighth rally of the season and take a six point lead in the drivers' championship.  The Frenchman incurred a 10-second penalty at the final service this morning when an electrical problem caused him to check out late.  Team-mate Dani Sordo finished 53.4sec behind his colleague.  Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford) claimed a career-best third ahead of Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen, while Petter Solberg (Subaru) and private-entrant Guy Wilks (Subaru) completed the top six.  Chris Atkinson (Subaru) failed to finish the rally as a result of engine problems.

Next round

The final round of the championship will take place on fast gravel forest roads in Wales.  Rally GB is based in Cardiff on 29 November - 2 December.

Final positions

1.
S Loeb/D Elena F
Citroen C4 3hr 01min 39.2sec
2.
D Sordo/M Marti E
Citroen C4 3hr 02min 32.6sec
3.
J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN
Ford Focus RS 3hr 03min 27.4sec
4.
M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN
Ford Focus RS 3hr 03min 56.9sec
5.
P Solberg/P Mills N
Subaru Impreza 3hr 04min 35.0sec
6.
G Wilks/P Pugh GB
Subaru Impreza 3hr 07min 37.1sec
7.
M Wilson/M Orr
GB
Ford Focus RS 3hr 11min 44.1sec
8.
G MacHale/A Harryman IRL
Ford Focus RS 3hr 12min 47.5sec
9.
A Mikkelsen/O Floene N
Ford Focus RS 3hr 14min 47.4sec
10.
N McShea/M Clarke GB Subaru Impreza 3hr 18min 11.3sec
11.
G Pozzo/ D Stillo RA Mitsubishi EVO 9 3hr 18min 55.5sec
12.
A MacHale/K Duffy IRL Ford Focus RS 3hr 19min 18.1sec
25.
Austin MacHale/B Murphy IRL
Ford Focus RS 3hr 29min 06.0sec
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