Robert Barrable, one of Ireland’s leading international rally drivers, will be aiming to showcase his ability on a European stage when he contests the Circuit of Ireland Rally next month.
The WRC 2 regular, who entered the Belfast event earlier this week, will take part in a Ford Fiesta R5 and will be among the favourites to challenge for victory on round four of the FIA European Rally Championship from 17-19 April.
“I love competing on the Circuit of Ireland – it’s such a prestigious event with a great history, the stages are fantastic and the thousands of spectators create a magnificent atmosphere,” said Barrable. “My earliest memories of the Circuit are going to the event with my father Michael to help Austin MacHale. Austin was famous for his flat-out approach to rallying, and that’s going to be my approach too this year in the Fiesta R5.”
Barrable, who is 26 and from Swords in County Dublin, continued: “I’ve done the Circuit of Ireland four times and last time out I finished sixth overall in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000 in 2012. The Fiesta R5 will be even better suited to the event than the Super 2000 was, so I’ll be aiming to better that result. With all the very fast European drivers and the ERC competitors, it will be a very difficult event to win – but I’d like to think we have a podium finish in us. As always, we’ll be giving it our best shot.”
Circuit of Ireland Rally Event Director Bobby Willis, who recently was given the all-clear to publish the supplementary regulations and open entries for the Tarmac spectacular, said: “We’re moving into top gear now as we progress with entries coming in. We’re confident 2014 will be a Circuit to remember with a stellar cast of competitors and iconic cars thrilling fans and spectators at each competitive stage.”
Drivers wishing to follow Barrable’s lead and enter the Circuit of Ireland Rally, which also counts as round two of the new-for-2014 ERC Junior Championship, can register online by clicking here.
The all-action FIA European Rally Championship resumes on the famous Acropolis Rally later this month. Colin McRae won the event five times and team boss Malcolm Wilson reveals why the rallying legend was so good in Greece.
“Okay, Colin had this flamboyant wild style and yes he had accidents with his way of driving,” remembers Wilson, who guided McRae to three of his five Acropolis Rally wins “But he had a more mechanical and sympathetic understanding than any driver I worked with in terms of how hard you could push a car in difficult conditions – that’s where he had this incredible ability. If you look at the rallies he won for us, the Acropolis, Argentina, Safari, Cyprus, all the most difficult rallies is where he was strong for us because of his mechanical understanding of how much punishment you could give a car in difficult conditions.”
Wilson pus this down to two factors: “A lot of it was his natural ability and understanding of mechanical issues,” he says. “Apart from his speed this was one of his strongest assets.”
The Acropolis remains one of Wilson’s must-win events with M-Sport-built cars triumphing on eight occasions in the past. This year, the firm’s Polish division will be hoping to carry on the success when it enters a Ford Fiesta R5 for Kajetan Kajetanowicz under the LOTOS Rally Team banner.
“Winning the Acropolis was always my target from when I took on the Ford contract [in 1997],” he says. “I always wanted to win the difficult rallies because those were the rallies I enjoyed as the team plays a much bigger part. I also got great satisfaction from winning here – they were great moments for us.
“In those days the rallies were a lot more difficult and I always felt from being a driver really enjoying the Acropolis that you could make a car that could withstand the Acropolis. When we designed the Focus we designed it so you didn’t have to change every part at every service but still be able to drive flat out. That was really the foundation of how I wanted the cars to go forward.”
The Acropolis Rally counts as round three of the 12-event ERC season and is based in Loutraki on the Gulf of Corinth from 28-30 March. Colin McRae, who died in 2007, is remembered on each round of the ERC through the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy, which goes to the driver whose performance best embodies his legendary spirit behind the wheel.
Photo: Reporter Images/N. Mitsouras (Acropolisrally.gr)
This interview with Malcolm Wilson was originally published on Maxrally.com
Peugeot’s 208 T16 R5 challenger is due to make its FIA European Rally Championship debut on the Acropolis Rally in Greece later this month. And here’s what the eagerly-awaited car looks like in competition trim.
While Paolo Andreucci’s Peugeot Italia-backed 208 T16 (pictured) is destined for Italian championship events only in 2014, this image gives a flavour of what’s to come when Kevin Abbring and Craig Breen contest the Acropolis Rally in the new-generation machinery for the Peugeot Rally Academy.
The Acropolis Rally, round three of the 12-event ERC season, takes place in Loutraki from 28-30 March with day one using asphalt stages and day two based mainly on gravel roads.