News 2018-09-02 - McGonigle Strikes 2nd in Sligo

The 2018 FAAC / Sligo Park Hotel Sligo Stages Rally was postponed a couple of times due to the extreme weather conditions that Ireland faced during the summer months but finally secured a date in September, much later than it's traditional July home.
The problem was that the tar on the roads was literally melting under the extreme heat wave Ireland was enduring and not only was the road surfaces being destroyed in the process but the risk of wildfires was much higher if a car happened to have a wee accident and that was a risk the sport didn't want to take in the interests of everyone's safety.
On the morning of the rally, Joe McGonigle & Ciaran Geaney were focusing on this next round of the National Championship made that wee bit more challenging as they had never competed here before but they were really looking forward to the stages - especially the 2nd stage.

On the first test, Joe reported that they had a couple of big slides at the start and wondered if they had made a bad tyre choice but as it turned out, they had the better tyre for that particular stage and everyone was complaining of little or no grip in the first stage. Joe realised at the end of the stage that the tyres were working well but he hadn't trusted them enough and they could have gone much faster if he had put more confidence in them. They had a big moment over the jumps and landed on the grass - stating that they were very lucky to get away with that one.

Stage 2 was unfortunately canceled because of a problem on the course that the organisers had to deal with at the last minute. So all the cars proceeded to stage 3 whilst the motor club sorted the problems and made the stage ready for the next time around.
Stage 3 ran as scheduled and Joe got off to a bad start by suffering a stall on the start line. At the end he reported that they had struggled in that one because of a wrong tyre choice and the tyres remained cold until approx half way through the stage.

At the end of stage 4, Joe felt he had been a bit too cautious. the time wasn't too bad but even though the conditions were different, he still felt like they had no grip once again but maintained he was still enjoying it anyway.

On the fifth stage, there was a lot of shiny tarmac but Joe was happy enough with his pace. They went Ok but commented that Josh Moffett had to be crazy to be setting that level of pace ahead of them. They were just glad to get a good clean run in and still be on the road.
But on stage 6 they would have an overshoot near the start and nearly went off at the same place that Josh Moffett did. Luckily they were able to drive straight on at that location, reverse back and continue without any damage. The people at that location did try to warn Joe & Ciaran and had slowed them down going into it but it was still too slippy to get stopped in time.

Josh Moffett's demise on stage 6 had elevated the Mini WRC crew up to 3rd overall and after stage 7 we then heard about Declan Boyle's accident and when he confirmed that the Fiesta WRC was unable to continue, that would promote Joe & Ciaran up another position again to 2nd overall. Joe told us they had to stop with Declan's accident and help to lift parts and debris off the road so that they could continue.

With only 2 stages left the main aim now was to get to the finish. The rain was absolutely lashing down at this stage and Joe commented that the wipers just couldn't move quick enough. The rain and fog were terrible on stage 8. Visibility was extremely poor and Joe was concerned about the handling of the car after they hit a rock on the previous stage. He thought perhaps he had damaged a shock in the collision but thankfully everything was working perfectly in the car but it took a while to realise that they were suffering from the conditions and the car was fine.
So when the lads got back to the end of the 9th and final stage, they were delighted to not only get a finish but to finish 2nd overall and break the long streak of finishing no higher than 4th place. There was a great boost in the championship from winning the higher points etc. but unfortunately they wouldn't be able to capitalise as they wouldn't be able to take part at the next round of the championship in Clare.

Published on  February 4th, 2019