PRINGLE ADDS GSMC TO IMPRESSIVE 2016 TROPHY HAUL
Organiser: Garda Siochana Motor Club When: October 23 Where: Baltinglass County Wicklow, Ireland Championship: Loughransigns.com Midlands East Rally Championship Stages: 6 Starters: 100
Jonathan Pringle, who has taken wins this year on the Donegal Mini Stages and Imokilly, was certainly the dominant force on the later part of this asphalt rally through the pleasant roads skirting the Wicklow Hills.
Pringle, who was co-driven in his Ford Escort Mk2 by Alan Keena, took the lead from Ian Barrett/eoin O’flaherty (Darrian) on SS4 and increased it to the finish. The latter crew were second, Jack Newman/andrew Browne third in their Ford Escort Mk2.
The nature of the stages was fast and open, plus the weather was good – ideal Darrian territory. Barrett seemed to agree with that prognosis and set a cracking time through the opening stage, Brewel Hill, to lead by 10s from number one seed Pringle.
In stages two and three, Cavan man Pringle, who hadn’t competed on a rally for several months and had new suspension in his Escort, staged a major response and was fastest. First he was 7s up on the Darrian and then 3s. However, Pringle had to really stretch himself to reel Barrett in.
David Condell had been third after the opening stage but retired his Escort after stage two with a mechanical problem.
Stephen Mccann was a late entry and was tipped to be driving a newly acquired Ford Fiesta S2000, but in fact reverted to a Mitsubishi Lancer and had been fifth after stage one, slipped to 10th after stage three and retired the car because of mechanical troubles.
Through the afternoon stages Pringle compounded his lead with unchallenged fastest times. Second-placed Barrett was in-turn consistently faster than Newman back in third place.
Donegal man Martin Doherty, who has been a frontrunner in a Group N Mitsubishi for many years and recently switched to an Escort Mk2, improved throughout the day to finish fourth. Peter Wilson and local man Alister Fingleton, both in Escorts, made up the top six.
Seamus O’connell appeared to be heading for a top six finish, but retired his Escort a few stages before the end because of mechanical maladies.