News 2018-03-10 Carmichael battles back to 2nd overall!

The first round of the 2018 Northern Ireland Rally Championship was to take place at Bishopscourt Race Circuit this year instead of the traditional season opener at Kirkistown Race Circuit and what a way to start the championship. The weather was unfortunately quite miserable with the rain soaking the track all morning and tyre choice was an absolute lottery. 

Alan Carmichael & Ivor Lamont used our right-hand drive Mini WRC once again to good effect as they set 4th fastest time over the first stage. Alan commented after the stage that he felt he drove the stage too cautiously and there could be more time gained the next time around.

Little did Alan know that stage 2 had a surprise in store as the heavens really opened up and the rain drowned the track even more than before, with standing water and aquaplaning unavoidable. They lost approx 20 seconds on the 2nd stage and dropped from 4th to 7th straight away.

Alan Carmichael & Mini WRC RHD in service area

In service, there was a change of tyres with more cuts to help deal with the standing water and Alan & Ivor planned to attack the stage more aggressively to see if they could set better times going forward and as everyone could see from the results - the changes were working. Slowly stage by stage the Co Antrim pair slowly made their way back up the leaderboard. After stage 3 they jumped back to 4th overall and after stage 4 they made another jump to 3rd place.

The last two stages saw the race course being run in the reverse direction. Derek McGarrity was still leading the rally with Connor McCloskey in 2nd place. On stage 5 Alan set a time 9 seconds faster than Connor to move up the leaderboard once more and take 2nd place overall which they were able to maintain after the sixth and final stage - finishing the event 2nd overall and claiming 2nd place championship points in the Northern Ireland Rally Championship.

As it turned out, even with all the rain, it wasn't such a bad start to the championship after all and Alan commented after the event that they thoroughly enjoyed the day even with all the rain. There were quite a few scary and hairy moments as they charged through the standing water but thankfully it all worked out in the end.

Alan's next event in the right-hand drive Mini WRC will be the Easter Stages Rally on the 6th & 7th April, just after the Easter holidays and we will report back here on the website after the event.

Many Thanks to Neil Coulter Photography for the action shots above and the NI Rally Championship Page & Jonathan MacDonald for the other photos.

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Published on  April 3rd, 2018