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– Ravens Rock Rally – 27th June 2010
– Neil McCance wins Evo Challenge and takes overall event victory for the second time in a row
– Sam Moffat scores an excellent second place
– Series front-runners Brendan Cumiskey and John McGlaughlin retire in early stages

For the second time in as many events, Neil McCance and co-driver Jonny Hart not only won a round of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland, but also claimed the overall event victory as well! After another masterful performance, they crossed the line to score maximum points in round four of the Irish Mitsubishi series and win the Ravens Rock Rally outright by 22 seconds.

Based in Kilkenny, this was the first time the Evolution Challenge had been hosted by this popular annual event run by the Carrick-on-Suir Motor Club, who extended a warm welcome to the Mitsubishi competitors. With the original number-one seed Craig Breen unable to start the rally, it meant that the first three cars to leave the start were all Evo Challenge crews, with McCance/Hart followed by John McGlaughlin/Crawford Henderson and Brendan Cumiskey/Conor Foley.

Following a high-profile ceremonial start in the town centre on Saturday evening, the rally got underway on Sunday and followed a traditional Irish format of three stages run three times, with a service halt after each loop. Drama amongst the Mitsubishis started on the very first stage, with McCance/Hart setting a time just one second ahead of McGlaughlin/Henderson.

Unfortunately for Cumiskey/Foley, their rally was short-lived, when their car slid off the road on a tightening right-hander about three-quarters of the way into the stage. Although on a mission towards a good result, Cumiskey was uncertain as to why his car lost its grip.

Sam Moffat/James O’Reilly were the next Evo through the stage and slowed down to make sure that Cumiskey and Foley were okay – which they were – and fortunately the car was not too badly damaged either. Stanley Ballantine/Donnacha O’Callaghan opted for a steady start, the driver admitting that he was a little rusty and having to get used to a new set of brakes.

The second stage saw MCance/Hart ease ahead by eight more seconds, with McGlaughlin/Henderson unsure where they were loosing the time. Moffat/O’Reilly were now in hot pursuit in third, even though they found they had no pace notes for the last part of the stage due to a problem during the recce. However, Jonny Hart came to the rescue and sportingly gave them a copy of his notes for the next run through the same stage.

With SS3 cancelled after one of the course cars went off the road, McCance/Hart were fastest again on SS4, with Moffat second this time and just ten seconds behind. However, the stage signalled bad news for McGlaughlin/Henderson, when their car’s recurring misfire mysteriously returned. Having lost time in the stage, they decided to go back to the service area, the loss of power proving too frustrating for them to continue.

With two of their main rivals out of the way, McCance/Hart were in control and for the remaining stages drove within their limits to ensure that they stayed ahead of the Evo Challenge runners and the overall field. Moffat/O’Reilly, in the mean time, were gathering pace and were only slowed by a spin due to the melting tar in the extremely hot and dry conditions.

With stage nine also cancelled because of an earlier accident, cars went straight to the finish in Kilkenny after SS8 where the time sheets revealed that McCance/Hart had recorded their second Evolution Challenge and outright event victory in succession, with Moffat/O’Reilly pleased to finish second of the Mitsubishis and fourth overall. Ballantine/O’Callaghan were also getting quicker in the closing stages and were satisfied to pick up third place in the Evo Challenge and cross the line in eighth place.

“Having not won a rally outright for 21 years – and then to win two in two months – is fantastic”, said McCance. “Today’s stages really suited the Evo and we had no problems throughout the event. Added to this, the organisers made us feel very welcome, so it was a really enjoyable rally for us all round.”

The fifth round of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland takes place in just three weeks time with the Gormanston-based ALMC Stages on Sunday 18th July.

For the first time this season, the winner of the Evolution Challenge in each of the three countries it takes place, UK, Ireland and Sweden, will win the same prize: A supported drive in the FxPro Rally Cyprus, the final round of the IRC (Intercontinental Rally Challenge). Then, whichever of the three teams are first home on this event, will be crowned European Evolution Challenge Champions.

The 2010 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland is supported by: Mitsubishi Motors, Pirelli tyres, Sunoco fuels, JRM, Cyprus Automobile Association, Fairways Mitsubishi, Donnelly Group, James Foley Rallysport, Speedline Corse wheels, Murray Motorsport, CL brake pads, Sparco racewear, Pacenotes and PIAA lights – who sponsor the junior award for under 25-year old drivers.

Evolution Challenge round four results
1  Neil McCance (Comber)/Jonny Hart (Carryduff) 50:01
2  Sam Moffett (Monaghan)/James O’Reilly (Monaghan) 51:43
3  Stanley Ballentine (Strabane)/Donnacha O’Callaghan (Mallow) 53:10

Retirements
SS1 Brendan Cumiskey (Dundalk)/Conor Foley (Ballinode) Accident
SS4 John McGlaughlin (Cookstown)/Crawford Henderson (Magherafelt) Misfire

Series standings after round four

Drivers
1 Neil McCance 44
2 Sam Moffett 32
3 Brendan Cumiskey 30
4 John McGlaughlin 17
5 Stanley Ballantine 15
6 Geoff McMahon 14
7 Willie Mavitty 5

Co-drivers
1 James O’Reilly 32
2 Conor Foley 30
3 Jonny Hart 24
4 Sean Ferris 20
5 Crawford Henderson 17
6 Donnacha O’Callaghan 15
7 Rob Graham 14
8 Brian Daniels 5

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