Ian Barrett has recorded the first Group N victory for Subaru in this year’s Irish National Rally Championship. The McKinstry Motorsport driver took the honours in the N4 category in his N12b Impreza from Prodrive.
Round seven of the National Championship visited Connacht for the Sligo Rally, in 2006 the rally was the scene of Subaru one-two in the Group N category, when Willie Fannin lead home Alan Ring, in their N12 specification Subaru Imprezas from Prodrive.
This year’s event was the 25th anniversary of the Sligo Rally, among the lead drivers in the championship Seamus Lenard and Alan Ring had opted not to take part in this event, providing other driver with a chance to take valuable championship points.
The Impreza crew of Ian Barrett and Eoin O’Flaherty set the early pace, beating championship leader Michael Curran by the narrowest of margins (just one second) over stage one. Barrett was also quickest over the second test, extending his lead to three seconds over Curran and winning a bet with his co-driver that they would be quickest over the first stages of the day.
Curran took the lead in Group N on stage three with a fastest stage time; Barrett commented he had driven with more caution as the wet conditions deteriorated, ensuring he stayed on the road and remained in contention for the rally win. Entering the final stage of the day, Barrett trailed Curran by just thirteen seconds, and held a twenty five second lead over third place Owen Murphy. With both leading drivers pushing for the class victory, Curran’s Mitsubishi Lancer suffered a mechanical failure on the final stage allowing Ian Barrett and Eoin O’Flaherty to record their first victory in the National Championship.
The win in Sligo moves the McKinstry Motorsport prepared crew up to fourth in the standings and closes the gap on third placed Kevin Kelleher to just five points.
The Irish National Rally Championship now moves on to round eight, in Tipperary on 8/26/07.