Cumbrian rally ace Aaron McClure will now start his 2017 rally campaign on the Malcolm Wilson Rally after the season opening BTRDA Cambrian Rally was cancelled due to heavy snow and ice on the stages last weekend.
After ten months away from the sport, the Yokohama backed driver was eager to start his season in style after spending much of last season rebuilding his Mitsubishi Evo 9 after a heavy crash on the Somerset Stages.
Buoyed by a successful tyre test the week before, McClure and co-driver Michael Gilbey headed to the Llandudno based event in North Wales with hopes of a solid BTRDA Rally Series Production Cup and class NR4 finish.
As crews assembled on the sea front for the start early on Saturday morning, news soon began to filter through that the stages were coated in snow and ice and with no snow tyres available; McClure would elect to make a steady start to the event.
But just metres into the first stage it soon became apparent that the conditions were much worse than first thought and crews littered the stage, either unable to continue or unwilling. McClure tip toed through the first few miles but with no traction, grip or turning ability, he too pulled the Mitsubishi up at the side of the road.
“It was simply impossible to drive the stage at any sort of competitive speed” said McClure. “But even at a reduced pace, we simply couldn’t keep the car on the stages as the ice had compacted down that hard that it was just like a skating rink.”
The decision in the car was soon made to pull over. “The trouble is you really need to commit to these stages in these conditions, sometimes driving slower is worse than at higher speeds and it just wasn’t possible to do either, so we pulled off the stage and retired. We have to look at the long term this season and we need to save the car for the rest of the year” said McClure.
Just minutes later, North Wales Car Club, organisers of the Cambrian Rally announced their decision to cancel the event as it became impossible to ensure the safety of the marshals, crews and spectators. The event was considered as void due to around just a handful of crews attempting the first stage.
McClure will now look towards to his home event, The Malcolm Wilson Rally which becomes the new season opener. The Cockermouth based event will take competitors into the Lake District forests for around 40 miles of stages on 11th March.
For more information on Aaron please visit http://www.aaronmcclure.co.uk
Image courtesy of Joseph J Gilbertson