Duggan takes positives from WRC3 performance in Wales
Promising Irish driver Rob Duggan says that his World Rally Championship debut on Wales Rally GB over the weekend exceeded all expectations and hopes the experience will stand him in good stead for 2016 when he hopes to contest the one-make Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy.
Against a number of more experienced drivers he produced a stunning drive on the very first day to occupy second in the Junior WRC standings from England’s Chris Ingram and Belgium’s William Wagner. But for Duggan, finishing was more important than the result, and despite retiring on Saturday he returned on the final day to accrue more useful seat time. “I came to this rally looking to get as much experience as I possibly could, and I have done that,” said Duggan.
“I was surprised to be sitting as high as second in WRC3 after Friday but to be honest I didn’t go with my sights set on a huge result. I wanted a finish, especially as it was my first rally outside of Ireland. There was a lot to learn, especially making pace notes from scratch, but we did well. This has been a fantastic opportunity and one that is really going to help me in the future.”
The chance to compete in the British round of the World Rally Championship follows his success in the Carryduff Forklift Road To Wales competition. Contested over seven rallies, he won it on the final round to land the all expenses paid drive worth £30,000 in a Citroén DS3 R3 Max.
In preparation for Wales Rally GB the 22-year-old completed a gravel test with David Greer Motorsport – the team who funded the prize and prepared the car – before taking part in last Thursday morning’s short, but mud-filled, shakedown stage with team-mate Ger Conway.
Before the three-day marathon Duggan had driven just seventy gravel miles but he showed that he is equally as quick on it as Tarmac by going fourth fastest on the opening test – Hafren 1– before climbing to third the second time over it. On Friday’s final stage he moved to second and Norwegian Christian Ole Veiby to first after Frenchman and reigning FIA Junior World Rally champion Quentin Gilbert hit trouble at the wheel of his Citroén DS3 R3 Max.
Saturday, however, was less kind to Duggan. A broken water pump belt on stage ten quickly followed two earlier spins with this forcing his retirement. The damage wasn’t serious meaning his mechanics could fix the problem allowing him to re-join the action under ‘Super Rally’ rules.
The Sunday leg was the shortest of the entire rally and featured just four stages in all, but heavy and persistent overnight rain ensured conditions remained tricky in the Welsh forests. Duggan, however, finished with a flurry to creep inside the top fifty places in the international field – a respectable result on his first ever visit to the Deeside-based meeting.
With Wales Rally GB behind him Duggan’s attention now switches to the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver Award. He is one of five people nominated for the annual prize, the winner of which receives 50,000 Euros. Interviews take place on Tuesday and if Duggan wins the money will help fund an assault on next year’s Drive DMACK Fiesta series. Incorporating five rounds of the WRC, the winning driver receives a full seven-round season of WRC2 competition.
Photographer : www.roydempster.com