Hard charging then a soft head at Lurgan Park
Aug 15, 2006
Alister McRae admitted to leaving Ireland after last weekend’s Lurgan Park Rally with a big smile and a matching headache, after he finished second in the Mk2 Escort Challenge category of the event, by just two seconds. His father Jimmy finished the event fourth in another Mk2 Ford Escort.
The event is famous for its tarmac stages through the beautiful park and it’s partying in equal measure and when the organisers invited Alister and Jimmy to take part, there was never any chance of them saying no.
Both were forced to compete in borrowed Mk2 Escorts, since each of their own cars were being worked on.
The event began for Alister and Jimmy with the customary pre-event recce of the stages. However, things happen differently in Ireland. Instead of using recce cars, they went out on mountain bikes, to preserve the condition of the stages.
On Friday evening as they did the recce, the roads making up the stages were damp but the day of the rally proper, Saturday, was dry, although it wasn’t bright enough to demand sun cream.
Competition in the Mk2 Escort category was close, with Alister and Jimmy scrapping with locals Wesley Patterson and Camalis Bradley in particular. Stage times were fractions of a second apart and the drivers put on a spectacular display of what rallying is all about, in front of record crowds of fans.
There were four drivers close at the front of the tables but when two of them clipped posts and dropped off, it was down to Alister and Wesley to fight for the win. It went all the way down to the wire and eventually, Wesley pipped Alister by just two seconds. Camalis finished third, in front of Jimmy.
“It was a fantastic event,” said Alister. “The atmosphere was brilliant and the competition was so close, it was really good fun. The crowds were huge – apparently the biggest they’ve ever had and it was a pleasure to be invited to take part by the organisers. The social scene is a big part of the Lurgan Park Rally experience and I have to admit to having a fair headache on the ferry on Sunday, as we headed home. But again, that’s how it should be!”
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