IT wasn’t as straightforward as he would have liked, but Strabane’s Aidan Wray was delighted to seal a third National Group N title at Saturday’s Donegal Harvest Rally.
Having won the crown in 2015 and 2016 he bounced back following a year off in 2017 to recapture his title alongside co-pilot Kieran McGrath in their Prestige Cars-liveried Mitsubishi Evo X by topping the Group N time sheets in every event they finished during 2018.
Their route to the title, especially on Saturday, proved to be a little more dramatic than anticipated with a burst shock absorber before stage one, a spin on stage four and a puncture on stage seven adding to the drama.
However, after overcoming those obstacles, Aidan was delighted to complete his title hat-trick.
“It wasn’t an easy task but we had a good year, the car never missed a beat. The car was perfect, but we had a bit of trouble at the Harvest on Saturday – you’d swear it wasn’t going to happen!,” he explained.
“We had a bit of bother with a shock on the way out of service on the way to the first stage – it was a bit distracting – but I didn’t let on to any of the boys until we had done the six stages!
“I didn’t want to get it into my head that there was a problem, but it leaked all the oil out of the front passenger shock, and we had a wee spin on stage four, lost a bit of time and we drove about three miles on stage seven with a puncture!
“It was the hardest day in rallying we’ve ever done, but it made it more worthwhile because you’re glad to get a finish after that.
“Overall, everything went well, it was just a couple of wee niggly things and we were lucky we got the puncture only three miles from the finish so we could just drive on, so everything was good!
“It means a lot to get the third title, it’s good to get it. I think I’m the only name on the cup twice in a row and now I’m the only name on it three times!,” he concluded.
It looks unlikely that Aidan will be attempting to claim a fourth Group N crown in 2019 as he is considering selling the Mitsubishi and changing to a different type of car, but that, most likely, won’t be happening until 2020 as he plans to take half a year out.
Before making any firm commitments on the future, Aidan wishes to thank Kieran ‘for all his work this season on the notes, all the boys in the background who helped as a team all year and all the sponsors and everyone who helped out towards it’.