Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

Marty Mccor­mack will com­pete in his new Skoda Fabia R5 for the first time on this week­end’s Wil­lie Lough­man For­est Rally.

Mccor­mack, who com­peted in events in Bri­tain and Ire­land last year in his Fabia S2000, is step­ping up to a full Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship cam­paign this year.

The North­ern Ir­ish driver has shaken down the new ma­chine ahead of the start of the sea­son.

“I’ve had a drive in the car, it’s very dif­fer­ent to the S2000 car,” said Mccor­mack. “To drive it at a cer­tain level is eas­ier be­cause the win­dow for per­for­mance is wider. The setup of the car needs a bit of work. I was very im­pressed with the per­for­mance out of the box.”

Mccor­mack is un­likely to do any other events be­fore the Scot­land-based BRC opener, the Bor­der Coun­ties Rally, on March 18-19.

“I would say re­al­is­ti­cally that will be it [af­ter the Wil­lie Lough­man]. We’ll get the Wil­lie Lough­man over with and see where things are af­ter that. We’ll need to test be­fore the Bor­der Coun­ties. How­ever, test­ing is great, but I find that you need to do a few ral­lies in it. I learn a test road quick and you set it up for that road.”

Mccor­mack head­lines a strong en­try for the Wil­lie Lough­man, the open­ing round of the Ir­ish For­est Rally Cham­pi­onship sea­son.

With Keith Cronin al­ready ex­pected to en­ter (see rally news, p16) along­side Mccor­mack, the Mof­fett broth­ers, Sam and Josh, are both on the en­try list.

A pair of Subaru Im­preza S14 WRCS also punc­tu­ate the en­try list. Niall Mc­cul­lagh and Scot Shaun Sin­clair pi­lot the ma­chines on the Pil­town­based event.

Cham­pi­onship run­ners-up last year, Ger Lucey and JJ Cremin, are also on the en­try list as are third-placed crew in the stand­ings, Shane Mc­girr and Martin Mc­gar­rity. Reign­ing cham­pion Desi Henry has elected to com­pete on the Cam­brian Rally in Llan­dudno the day be­fore.

of the Ac­tion Ex­press Coy­oteChevro­let Corvette DP. The 2016 win­ner had only one year of sportscar rac­ing un­der his belt prior to his big op­por­tu­nity.

Mor­ris felt well pre­pared for the test, how­ever, cour­tesy of his sin­gle-seater ex­pe­ri­ence that took him through the BRDC For­mula 4 Cham­pi­onship and For­mula Re­nault into GP3 in 2015.

“The high-down­force stuff I’ve done def­i­nitely helped me,” he ex­plains. “As well as rac­ing in GP3, I did quite a lot of test­ing in a For­mula Re­nault 3.5 car when I was de­cid­ing what to do for 2015. That means I’ve driven a sin­gle-seater with the most down­force out­side of For­mula 1. I felt at home straight away in the DPI, so all those miles in a 3.5 car paid off in the end.

“It al­ways helps when the team gives you such a good car. It’s con­fi­dence build­ing and means it’s easy to be there or there­abouts.”

Dow­son ad­mits that his doubts were quickly eased: “We didn’t know much about Seb, but he was straight on the pace in De­cem­ber and re­ally grew into the team.”

Mor­ris re­veals that the Sunoco Whe­len Chal­lenge was very much on his radar when he called time on his sin­gle-seater ca­reer af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son of GP3 with Sta­tus Grand Prix.

“I couldn’t be­lieve that you could win this by do­ing Bri­tish GT – the chal­lenge is a golden ticket to one of the big­gest races in the world,” ex­plains Mor­ris, who fin­ished third in the cham­pi­onship aboard the Team Parker Rac­ing Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT3 he shared with Rick Parfitt Jr.

“I al­ways tried to col­lect as many points as pos­si­ble and was con­stantly on the phone to An­ders ask­ing where I was or get­ting my dad on the cal­cu­la­tor to work out the po­si­tions.”

The main fo­cus for Mor­ris in 2017 will be a sec­ond sea­son of Bri­tish GT.

The plan is that Mor­ris will also take in at least one round of Euro­pean Blanc­pain GT Se­ries – though he’s not say­ing which one as yet – and he is also ex­plor­ing op­tions to race in its blue riband event, the 24 Hours of Spa. And he wants some more out­ings in the IMSA se­ries too fol­low­ing his de­but Day­tona per­for­mance.

“This can’t do my ca­reer any harm and hope­fully the phone will start ring­ing,” he says. “I’d love to drive with the Ac­tion Ex­press guys in the fu­ture and keep com­ing back to Day­tona year af­ter year.

“The only prob­lem is that you are only al­lowed to win the chal­lenge once.” ■

New car un­veiled at Au­tosport In­ter­na­tional Mccor­mack was rapid in S2000 in ’16

Mor­ris wasn’t over­awed by the huge Day­tona event

Car lost laps with dam­age, but Mor­ris’s pace im­pressed

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