Enniskillen man Marshall Clarke is taking the World Rally Championship by storm. Last weekend saw him navigate Qatar driver Adulaziz Alkuwari to the WRC2 category win in their R5 Ford Fiesta on Rally Argentina.
They where simply unstoppable taking a massive 2 minute 45 second victory over the similar car of Diego Dominguez / Edgardo Galinda from Paraguay.
Clarke and Alkuwari drove a very calculated rally, avoiding many of the problems their fellow competitors encountered in what is classed as the roughest event of the WRC series.
“Argentina is renowned as a difficult event. It’s a long haul rally, but because it’s a long haul there is just a core of six or seven guys in each class that go to it in each class because of the sheer cost of getting there. It wasn’t a show of outright speed, it was a measured drive to stay out of trouble. We were lucky, we didn’t have any punctures or issues with the car. But obviously you still have to drive, get around it and bag your points and that’s what we did,” said Clarke.
One of the main competitors was handed a 15 minute penalty for repairing his vehicle in an unauthorised manner. The result leaves the Alkuwari team in a very strong second place in the championship.
“I’ve to go Iran this week to take part in the Middle Eastern Rally Championship,” said Clarke. “Then I’m home for three days then off to Portugal for the next round of the World Rally Championships. Portugal is going to be a different animal altogether because there’s going to be a bigger field. A lot of guys are starting the championship in Portugal. It’ll be interesting to see how it all fares out.”
The Argentinian Rally also made the headlines as local drivers Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle took their very first outright World Rally Victory, the works Citroen driver has fully repaid the faith put in him by his team and his previous mentor the late great Colin McRae, the Dungannon driver was literally speechless at the end of the event realising his dream had come true.
Kris and Paul have worked extremely hard over the past few years and 14 years after Kris first turned a wheel in anger he has joined the elite list of drivers that include McRae, Burns, Gronholm and Loeb, and with the first win. Having previously been crowned Intercontinental Rally Champion back in 2009 the World series is the next goal.
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