collected a convincing win in the Group N category of Rally Ireland,
which ended in Sligo Sunday’s afternoon. His fellow Lancer drivers
were also on fine form to lock-out the podium, taking another
one-two-three finish for the all-conquering Lancer Evolution,
despite the awful weather conditions.
Running as the opening round of the 2009 World Rally Championship,
in place of the legendary Monte Carlo Rally, the crews had been
expecting harsh conditions on the notoriously wild west coast of
Ireland. And the weather certainly delivered. The opening two days
of the event were battered by rain storms so severe they forced the
event organizers to cancel the final two stages of the opening day.
Like the event it replaced for this year, Rally Ireland straddles
two countries - Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland - with
equal amounts of competitive action in both. The rally’s
headquarters are in Sligo, in the Republic, but the ceremonial start
is in Enniskillen in the North.
No matter which side of the border the competition was, however, the
rain remained torrential. Making the best of the atrocious
conditions was Alan Ring (Ireland). The Lancer driver pushed his car
as hard as he dared along the treacherous Irish lanes to ease his
way 30 seconds clear at the front of the Group N field by the end of
the opening day. Gallagher kept him honest through the early part of
day two and, when Ring slipped off the road in SS11, the first run
through Tempo, Gallagher seized his opportunity to further close the
gap. Two stages later and Gallagher was ahead. He remained there
until the end of the event.
Running under the World Rally Team Ireland banner, Gallagher
admitted his victory was a proud moment.
"Winning Group N here means a great deal," he said. "It’s been such
a tough event, I can’t remember conditions like that for a long
time. It was like being in a swimming pool some of the time! But the
car was great, it ran really well despite all of the water. It was a
tough fight as well, you know Alan [Ring] was quick on the first
couple of days."
The third and final day of Rally Ireland came as a complete contrast
the Friday and Saturday, with sunshine and near-freezing
temperatures arriving in time for a final blast up and down the
beautiful scenery of the Atlantic coast.
Another local driver, Gary Jennings (Ireland) was second in Group N,
with Paul Elliot (Ireland), Rory Byrne (Ireland) and Derrick Jobb
(United Kingdom) bringing their cars home third, fourth and sixth
At the front of the field, defending world champion Sebastien Loeb
(France) won the event for the second time in succession, leading
home his fellow Citroen driver Dani Sordo (Spain). Mikko Hirvonen
(Finland) was the first non-C4 WRC driver home as he guided his Ford
to third place.
The next event is Rally Norway (February 12-15), which is the
opening round of the Production Car World Rally Championship.
From the Net.
The actual Mitsubishi Lancer evo IX.