Allen plans two years in ITRC with Fabia
Philip Allen, the son of the late Northern Ireland Rally champion Glenn, has committed to doing the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship for the next two seasons in an Evo 2-specification Skoda Fabia R5.
Beginning his campaign at the one-day Galway International Rally on February 10, Allen says that 2019 is all about familiarising himself with each of the seven rounds and gradually increasing his speed in the series.
To date, the 26-year-old has entered three closed-road competitions. Allen finished fourth on the Tyrone Stages but retired from both the Tour of the Sperrins Rally and the Ulster International Rally.
“The Tarmac Championship is where many of the top R5 drivers are heading,” Allen told MN.
“Some people might think this is quite a big jump for someone like me, but you have to remember that my first proper rally was in a Mini World Rally Car. Before every Irish Tarmac round we will test. There’s a huge amount of effort going into this by lots of people; we want to do it right.
“At the end of the year we should have a clearer idea of where we stand, and make whatever changes necessary to hit the ground running in 2020.
“I did the Ulster Rally back in August and I learnt so much from it. You might have a bad first day but you can reset for the second one and go again. You just can’t do that on one-day rallies,” he added.
Allen’s Fabia broke cover for the first time at the Turkey Run Rally over Christmas, where he suffered issues and finished 64th. Purchased from Wevers Motorsport in Holland, the Fabia will be prepped by Mcgeehan Motorsport.
Former British Rally Championship frontrunner Neil Wearden will compete in his second rally in 10 years for the revamped North West Stages, which includes closedroad tests this year.
Wearden, most famous for his exploits in a Vauxhall Astra in the BRC’S infamous F2 era, will drive a one-off Hyundai built for Wales Rally GB in 2014.
The North West Stages – slated for March 23 – launched with a media day at Myerscough College last week, and has taken advantage of new laws which make it easier for events to obtain road-closure permits.
“One of the stages is two miles from my front door, so I couldn’t let it happen without being a part of it,” explained Wearden, who stopped competing full-time at the end of the 2001 WRC season.
“I still have itchy feet. This has relit the fire. We’ve bought a car and we’ll see how we get on. We’re just so busy with our little family business.”
The Hyundai Wearden will use was built by notorious F2-preparation ace Steve Black’s 586 Sport for Oliver Marriage to use on Wales Rally GB. It features a 1.6-litre engine producing around 180bhp, with power going to the front wheels.
“It probably looks a lot faster than it is, it’s only got 180bhp, but we’ve done a few tests in it now and I’m really happy with it,” added Wearden.
“I finished my career in WRC stuff and then went back to Mk2 Escorts, but deep down, from my career, it is front-wheel-drive I’ve had the most success in.”
Wearden will be co-driven on the event by Callum Cross, while period F2 co-driver Trevor Agnew will help with logistics.