Galway crew Ross and Arron Forde are ready to take on their home stages when they contest Rally Ireland for the first time next week (29 January – 1 February).
The Carnmore brothers will get behind the wheel of their Global Group Ireland-backed Suzuki Swift Sport to compete in the Sligo-based tarmac event, the opening round of the 2009 World Rally Championship (WRC).
They are Ireland’s wild card entry in the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) with driver Ross winning the 2008 Billy Coleman Award and being named the Young Rally Driver of the Year.
The pair warmed-up for the event by taking part in last weekend’s (16-18 January) Ballybrit-based Galway International Rally but unfortunately failed to finish.
They were making their debut in their recently acquired two-litre Honda Civic Type R and after taking some time to get the handling set-up right, were up to 19th overall and third in class three before disaster struck on stage ten, the first on Sunday.
After coming down a mountain on the icy roads, on the exit of a square right, they slid onto a five-foot bank and pierced the radiator on a hidden rock. They continued for a mile before realising they had a problem as the car got warm and on stopping, realised the water had gone. Without wanting to damage the engine they were forced to retire.
“The car was going really well and we’d sorted the handling out,” 25-year-old Ross said. “We were in a good position and then we just got caught out with the treacherous conditions and that was it.”
The Fordes will have little time to wait before getting back out onto the stages when they take to the unfamiliar territory of Rally Ireland.
“I’m really looking forward to competing on my home event and to be the JWRC wild card entry is fantastic,” Ross added. “Most of the stages will be fairly new to me, I may have done a few before, but it’s relatively unknown to me.
“I just can’t wait to get out there, it will be my first event at WRC standard and we’ll be giving it our best to get a decent result.”
They will start at number 60.
The image is courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography.