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AaronMcClurePR03_15_MWFlookburgh rally star Aaron McClure endured a tough start to his season last weekend as he ended his Malcolm Wilson Rally hopes in one of the infamous Grizedale ditches thanks to a rear suspension failure. The 20 year old Allfloors Express and Yokohama backed ace would use his home event as the first outing for his newly acquired Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9, setting an impressive pace before a rear damper failed on the sixth stage of the event , putting the rising talent out of the rally instantly.

Having missed the opening round of REIS Ravenol BTRDA Series, McClure was understandably apprehensive about starting his BTRDA campaign on his home event and the slippery stages in the Lake District would provide an added challenge for the youngster. If the conditions were not enough to cope with, McClure would need to banish any pre-event nerves as the forests are renowned for their unforgiving nature.

But his lack of four-wheel drive experience was certainly not apparent from the first loop of stage time which appeared early on Saturday morning. With regular co-driver Elliott Edmondson alongside, the 2014 John Easson Award winner would set an impressive pace from the very first stage and slotted into a class podium position by the halfway service halt in Penrith.  His stage times were comparable to that of competitors with much more experience and McClure was certainly happy with his pace on his first competitive stages in the car.

“It was a very steep learning curve this morning but I’m really pleased with how we managed our pace throughout the first few stages” said McClure at Service.  “It was literally straight in at the deep end but the car feels fantastic and works really well with the Yokohama tyres and that’s reflected in our times. It’s such an exciting car to drive; I haven’t stopped smiling all morning”.

So then to the Grizedale forest complex which is steeped with history for its notoriously tricky stages. With the two trickiest stages of the event to come, the first test would not start well for McClure. The car lost all power a few miles into the stage and forced them to pull over in an attempt to fix the issue. A burst turbo hose was found to be the cause and McClure set to work stage-side, affecting a temporary repair to get them going again but putting them outside of the podium position.

Sadly the second Grizedale test would be the final resting place for the Mitsubishi as the nearside rear shock absorber burst, rendering the unit useless and caused the car to leave the road on a fast section of the stage. The car rolled onto its side and sustained significant damage in the process. With the crew ok, McClure was left to reflect on his performance that morning.

“I’m really, really disappointed with how we ended today” he said. “I know there was a lot of pressure on me to do well but I think I showed what we are capable of straight out of the box.  It almost felt like a puncture as the shock absorber lost its damping ability and sent us wide, launching us into the ditch as quite high speed.   I have to take the positives from this, it’s all too easy to sit back and feel dejected. With just 20 competitive miles under our belt we are close to the front and I’m really happy with that. It bodes well for the rest of the season but now the race is on to see if we can ready the car for the Somerset stages next month. We are down, but we are certainly not out.”

McClure is supported by The Next Big Step, IPD Motorsport Services, Camp Road Garage, Carcraft Body Repairs, BE Hargan, Darce Tech Racing, Questmead, Revolution and MCR Motorsport Media in 2015.  For more information on Aaron and his rallying career, visit http://www.aaronmcclure.co.uk

The next event in the REIS Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series is the Somerset Stages which is based in Minehead and takes place on 18th April.

Image courtesy of John Wilson Photography

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