Evans begins title defence








     After becoming the first ever overseas driver to win the Irish National Rally Championship in 2010, Melvyn Evans and Patrick Walsh returned to the Emerald Isle to begin their title defence on the Birr Stages in Abbeyleix taking in stages around the Laois countryside. “We're hoping to do a few of the opening rounds this year and just see how everything goes but we might have to miss a few events as some of them might clash with events that our customers will be competing on,” said Melvyn.


     Steve Simpson, James Belton and Christopher Lloyd also headed out across the Irish Sea in Melvyn Evans Motorsport prepared cars making a four strong team with three Subaru Impreza WRC's and a Ford Escort Mk2 amongst the fleet.

     The opening stages were very tricky and a wrong compound tyre choice saw Evans/Walsh struggle to match the pace of Tim McNulty and lose 27 seconds on the opening stage. Tyres that weren't soft enough for the conditions saw the Impreza struggle to find any grip on the slippery Irish tarmac and Evans held 3rd O/a after the opening stage.

     Evans/Walsh moved up to second after SS2 when Kevin Barrett retired from second overall with gearbox problems. A fastest time SS3 however showed the crews unbelievable pace when Evans/Walsh beat the bogey time by four seconds on the stage and close the gap to McNulty to 28 seconds heading into service. Six stages remained after the morning loop and Evans/Walsh decided to consolidate their position in second, maintaining a good pace throughout the day without pushing too hard and taking any un-necessary risks.

     McNulty remained the rally leader throughout the day extending his advantage to 59 seconds by the end of the nine competitive stages with Melvyn Evans/Patrick Walsh in a very comfortable second overall, over two minutes ahead of Colm Murphy in third.

     The Melvyn Motorsport prepared cars also achieved some excellent results. Steve Simpson finished an excellent fourth overall in his Impreza WRC and took first in Class 8. Christopher Lloyd also added to the teams trophy haul when he finished third in class 13 and 31st overall on his first ever outing on the Irish rally scene. Unfortunately for James Belton, an oil leak in one of the gearbox pipes led to his retirement on SS5 after he had been lying in 15th O/a after stage 4.



     The next event on the Dunlop National Irish Championship is the Monaghan Stages rally held on the 16/17th of April.