Cookstown’s John McGlaughlin seals second overall at the Mourne Rally
(Image: Graham Chambers) Cookstown’s John McGlaughlin secured an excellent result at last weekend’s Modern Tyre Service Mourne Rally when he sealed second overall in his McGlaughlin’s Bakery Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
Navigated by Magherafelt’s Crawford Henderson, the crew also sealed the top production category placing, and finished just 11 seconds adrift of the rally winners.
McGlaughlin is contesting this year’s Irish Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge, and he entered the event with the intention of testing his car in preparation for the third round of the series.
So with no real plans of challenging for outright honours, nobody was more surprised than McGlaughlin when he emerged from the opening stage as the rally leader!
“I felt very confident in the car,” McGlaughlin said afterwards. “It was the first time that everything felt good since last year. I was able to push hard and to set fastest time was a major confidence boost.”
McGlaughlin has been fraught with mechanical troubles during the 2010 season but the Mourne event had started with no such issues. Stage two was to tell a different story though, as the Cookstown driver damaged a wheel.
“We were too fast going into a six-right over crest,” McGlaughlin explained. “I had to cut the corner and there was a massive bang. The car was snaking all over the place at the next junction and we lost around five to 10 seconds.”
That was enough to allow his more powerful World Rally Car rivals into the rally lead but John still held second overall. More problems were to raise their head however, as mechanical issues once again thwarted the Cookstown man’s progress.
“The problem appeared midway through the third stage,” John rued. “It wasn’t a misfire…it was more like fuel starvation or something like that. Normally I change gear at 4000rpm but I had to rev the car over 5000rpm. I had hoped for a clean run at the rally so I was gutted.”
When the crew returned to service, the McNeill Motorsport crew planted a new ECU into the Mitsubishi Lancer but that failed to cure the problem during the second loop of stages.
Even a new fuel pump installed at final service failed to solve the issue but despite losing time on every stage, John still held a comfortable second overall.
It looked as though the Hilltop Fuels backed team were on course for the second step on the podium as they entered the final loop of stages. Then, at the end of stage seven, McGlaughlin had a brief sniff of potential victory when he spotted the rally leader with two punctures.
“I thought we were back in with a chance of victory,” McGlaughlin explained, “and when I didn’t see the World Rally Car driver at the start of the following stage, I presumed he had lost a lot of time and was running well down the order.”
“I lost my concentration through the eighth stage and it was only when I was at the start of the final test that I discovered our rivals were still in the running.”
The battle for the overall rally spoils was going down to the wire and unfortunately for the Bush Road Filling Station and TightAngle.com sponsored crew, they stalled on the start line.
In a panic to get the car fired up, the differentials were switched off. It was only when the crew were a couple of miles into the test that they realised something was amiss.
“We were driving through a very narrow section when I was trying to switch the diffs on,” McGlaughlin explained. “I was trying to keep one eye on the road and one eye on the switches! It took three or four attempts and probably cost us the win.”
McGlaughlin and Henderson went on to seal second overall, forcing the crew to wait that little bit longer for their maiden rally victory.
“I’m very happy with the result,” John said. “We went there to test and came away with a very strong finishing position – and very nearly a win. I was happy with our stage times despite our problems, and the result has given me plenty of confidence. If we can get this niggling problem sorted, then hopefully our first win is not too far away.”
With a successful test completed, John McGlaughlin and Crawford Henderson will be back in action on 28 June at the Raven’s Rock Rally. More details can be found online at www.jmcglaughlin.co.uk.