Blackburn driver John Stone thrust himself firmly into contention for the 2014 REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship with a brilliant performance on the County Meath-based ALMC Stages Rally in Ireland this weekend.
Driving the Legend Fires Skoda Fabia WRC, Stone followed up his two fourth and one fifth place finish out of the three rounds held so far with his best result of second place to move into the lead of the championship at the half way point of the season.
Along with Welsh co-driver Carl Williamson, the pair were embroiled in a day long battle around the classic Irish lanes with leading British and Irish crews including former champions Steve Simpson and Damian Cole as the crews battled the weather conditions as well as themselves over the 12 stages.
Seventh overall after the opening stage, the Lancastrian driver gradually upped his pace to move up the leaderboard into second place after SS6 but the tricky conditions continued with tyre choice proving to be a lottery and meaning the Dom Buckley Motorsport IRS-prepared car was occasionally not on ideal tyres on the ever-changing roads.
The pair combined caution with speed and arrived at the final stages in second place overall but dropped time due to having intermediate tyres on a dry surface and had to settle for fourth place overall losing eight valuable seconds on the final test, but second place of the registered championship contenders.
The nett result is John and Carl have climbed up into the lead of the 2014 REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship going into the Wilkinson Maintenance Tyneside Stages Rally next month.
John Stone: “All things considered, I’m very pleased with the result given the difficult conditions and to take the lead in the championship is fantastic. I’m a little disappointed that we couldn’t hang on to our place on the last stage but we were simply on the wrong tyres and the other two drivers weren’t. It’s been a great team effort and a great event so thanks to the organisers and hopefully we can maintain this performance on Otterburn in the next event.”
For further information please visit www.asphaltrallying.com and www.legend-fires.com.
1 Hugh Hunter/Andy Marchbank – Subaru Impreza – 1:00:47
2 Damian Cole/Elliott Edmondson – Ford Focus WRC – 1:01:41
3 Michael O’Brien/James O’Brien – Ford Focus WRC – 1:01:41
4 John Stone/Carl Williamson – Skoda Fabia WRC – 1:01:49
5 Alex Laffey/Jack Morton – Ford Fiesta R5+ – 1:02:33
6 Frank Kelly/Jackie Elliot – Ford Escort – 1:02:57
7 Graham Coffey/Jenny Gaebler – Ford Fiesta – 1:04:15
8 Mark Nangle/Nollaig Breen – Subaru Impreza – 1:04:27
9 Keith Robathan/Alastair Wylie – Ford Escort Mk2 – 1:04:29
10 Simon Chapman/Michael Calvert – MG Metro 6R4 – 1:04:41
Championship Positions (after 4 rounds)
1 J Stone 105
2 D Atkinson 89
3 D Cole 88
4 S Simpson 84
5 A Laffey 71
6 D Tinn 69
Pictures courtesy of Wayne Goldring and Peter Boyd (www.peespeed.com)