MCCORMACK: R5 DEBUT ON WL FOREST RALLY
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