Connor McCloskey Interview, Wyedean Rally Winner

(Image: Nathan Young)

(Image: Nathan Young)

Former Northern Ireland Rally Champion Connor McCloskey claimed a sensational victory at the opening round of this year’s REIS-Get Connected BTRDA Rally series on Saturday.

Driving his Subaru Impreza WRC, he and Francis Regan secured the Team GMF Wyedean Forest Rally spoils after a final stage dash, promoting themselves from fourth to first over the final test.

It was McCloskey’s first event in the forests since September 2011 but he quickly proved he had lost none of his flair. Despite it being his first attempt at the Wyedean, he powered to the rally win ahead of the series regulars, with David Wright and Michael Wilkinson coming home in second ahead of Hugh Hunter and Andy Marchbank. grabbed a few words with 26-year-old McCloskey after the event…

When did you last compete in a forestry event?

“The Bushwhacker Rally in 2011 was our last forestry event. I didn’t realise it was over a year since we were last in the forests until we were talking about it a few days ago…but it wasn’t too bad and it didn’t take too long to get back into the groove.”

What were the conditions like?

“The stages were very slippery in places and grip was inconsistent. You could have plenty of grip for the first three miles of a stage and then for the next three, you would start braking and the car would speed up on what was shiny muck.”

Did you have any problems?

“I spun and stalled on the second stage. For whatever reason, the paddle change stopped working after that so we had to switch to manual gear change.”

“We also had an issue with the back of the car stepping out during the first four stages. We had a few big slides but the boys changed a few settings in service and that helped.”

Were you aiming for victory?

“The plan was always to stay steady for the whole day. I didn’t want to put the car off so we just forgot about everyone else and drove to our own pace. We always knew that the last stage consisted of around one-quarter of the event’s total stage mileage. So whenever we realised we had a chance of winning, we thought ‘to hell with it’ and pushed hard on the final stage. It paid off!”

“I’m very lucky to have a lot of support from guys like Andy Catherwood. He worked really hard last week sorting an issue out with the car. Woodside Transport also helps us out and Pirelli has given us support for the BTRDA as well. So it’s great to get the win for them.”

You mentioned before going to the Wyedean that it would be good to compare the pace of the Northern Ireland Championship with the BTRDA. Now that you’ve completed the first event, how does the pace between the two series compare?

“It’s right up there. The biggest problem we have is going across to compete on events and stages that the local guys know inside out. It felt good proving that the Northern Ireland Championship pace is up there with the best in Britain.”

What are your plans now?

“I still plan to do the first three BTRDA rounds. We’ll keep our heads down and see how it goes. Then maybe we’ll do the next three and take it from there.”

Comments are closed.