Duggan avoids non-start to take Circuit victory
Circuit of Ireland DMACK BRC Junior winner Rob Duggan almost failed to start the event after a new engine for his Vauxhall Adam was shipped over from Germany and did not arrive until Wednesday night.
Duggan had a tough opener in the championship on the Mid Wales Stages, finishing fifth and he is still inexperienced on gravel events.
The weekend before the Circuit of Ireland, the Vauxhall team went to the Circuit of Kerry as a pre-event test, but a part in the engine broke on Duggan’s car. Later in the week, it was clear the car needed a new engine and the race was on to get the car ready.
“The engine came from Germany, we only picked it up on Wednesday night,” said Duggan. “We started it up after replacing some parts from Kerry and it needed the change.”
Duggan leads Norwegian Sindre Furuseth – who played his double-points joker in Mid Wales – by a single point.
Ouninpohja is cool, but this is something else.” Utter sacrilege. I never thought I’d hear anyone even insinuate that any stage in the world was better than Ouninpohja. But this weekend I heard as much from a Scandinavian no less. Someone who should be at home in the forests near Jyvaskyla.
Fredrik Ahlin was the man to say such words. But here’s a secret: I agree with him. I’ve never been to Ouninpohja but as an onboard aficionado I’ve seen just about any car driving through the infamous road, but this weekend’s The Glens stage was, and is, something else.
The look of the drivers said it all. Craig Breen was almost speechless at the end of it and had to have a laugh as his time went on the board. He was quickest and declared it the best piece of Tarmac stage in the world. No disagreement here.
Never have I seen a stage have such an affect on drivers at a stage end. After 19 miles, first on the road Kajetan Kajetanowicz was bright red and his eyes were bulging at the test. “For sure, this is the most difficult stage in my life,” he babbled.
Credit is due to the organisers for gambling on including a stage of 19 plus miles. All it would have taken is a car blocking the stage and that would have been that, a large chunk of mileage gone. But the gamble paid off and those who were there will never forget the damp and twisty wind through Torr Head and down under the viaduct and through some of Northern Ireland’s best rally roads.
Credit also must go to the organisers for the inclusion of the live streaming.
When the idea was rumoured for the British championship it was met with a hefty dose of stigma, but the live coverage of the Circuit of Ireland seemed to garner universal praise, both on social media and in the service park. Led by WRC commentating legend Jon Desborough, 2003 PWRC champion co-driver Trevor Agnew and with the assistance of WRC radio’s Lisa O’sullivan and WRC co-driver Seb Marshall, the coverage provided unique depth into an event the likes haven’t been seen on a rally in the UK before outside of Wales Rally GB.
And the live stream meant the team could broadcast through the day via the studio even if the stage end or pictures from the stage weren’t live.
The use of drones was particularly impressive; unlike static cameras, they could follow cars making their way up to junctions or certain areas and then be guided back for the next car.
Drones are an untapped resource and, with the obvious problems thrown up in terms of capturing a rally car for as long as possible on camera, they could well be revolutionary.
Much has been made of where Rally TV is heading, but if championships or individual rallies can put together coverage of the Circuit of Ireland’s quality and if it can be made cost effective, then this could be the future. ● A big thank you to prominent former competitor Robert Copeland who ferried me around in a Torquetronix 400bhp Volkswagen Golf R on Friday. Getting to the stages was almost as fun as watching them, with some fantastic stories to boot.