John Stone enters County Down with a slim lead in the Protyre Asphalt Rally Championship-Asphalt Cup

Asphalt Cup– John Stone leads the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship by two points going into the Carryduff Forklift Down Rally (Saturday, July 23). His primary objective right now is to pad out what is already a razor-thin advantage at the top of the drivers’ standings.

Following the 2019 Down Rally, where he accumulated the most Protyre Asphalt points, the Blackburn driver is in superb physical condition and bullish about his chances in Argyll’s sealed-surface championship.

He drives on the stunningly gorgeous closed rural roads of County Down once again:

 Still, this time he does it in a magnificent Legend Fires Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 with Laura Connell and his co-driver rather than in the Ford Fiesta WRC that he used to drive on these roads three years earlier.

Neil Roskell’s 2023 season didn’t get off to the smooth start he’d hoped for, but things started looking up after his most recent race in Scotland when he finished in the second position and achieved rewards in his Burdens Ford Fiesta R5+.

Protyre Asphalt Rally Championship
Protyre Asphalt Rally Championship (Image Source)

On the opening stage, he went off the road at Dunoon town center owing to cold Michelin tires and a muddy surface, losing roughly 10 seconds. There was also a double puncture, which resulted in the brake line breaking and the rose joint failing for Neil and his co-driver Andrew Roughead. Despite some trouble with his handling, he completed the afternoon loop, moving him up to second place in the drivers’ standings after three events.

Despite a crash in Argyll, Steve Wood is still in contention for the Protyre Asphalt championship:

 The Welshman, who has extensive experience participating in Irish closed road stage rallies, might be the one to watch this weekend. Dale Bowen will split the driving responsibilities in the powerful City East Ford Fiesta RS WRC with him.

  • When Will Atkins joins Stephen Simpson in the Tudor Porcelain Ford Fiesta Rally2 that CA1 Sport is running, Atkins will become Simpson’s third various sub in just as many races as Simpson has competed in the same number of events. An unfamiliar voice on the intercom won’t disturb the experienced Manchester driver, who is generally quick and is aiming for another podium result in Protyre Asphalt.
  • Mark Kelly’s Ford Fiesta R5+, supported by Roccia and Tile Master and equipped with Michelin tires, was involved in a catastrophic accident in Argyll, and it is presently getting repairs. After losing a point in the championship race, he borrowed a Koda Fabia R5+ to keep his championship hopes alive. He will be reunited with his usual co-driver Neil Colman in Northern Ireland.

Mark Holmes went off the road in Argyll after a good start:

This time, they’re hoping to reclaim their current success in class B14. Be on the lookout for Richard Clews, who won the class B14 Tour of Epynt in his ITG Subaru Impreza STI, and Steven Ormond-Smith, who is competing in his speedy Manx Rally Sport Mitsubishi Evo 9 and is coming immediately off of a stunning victory in Argyll. The driving responsibilities will be split between Dafydd Evans and Carl Williamson.

Brad Cole is the best two-wheel-drive driver, and he is presently in the lead for the Ford Escort Challenge and class B13 with the vehicle he drives, a Hydroline Solutions Escort Mk2 with a 2.5-liter Smith & Jones engine, and Jamie Vaughan as his co-driver. Jamie Vaughan is now sixth in the drivers’ standings after finishing fourth in Protyre Asphalt points.

The 2019 Down Rally was Darren Atkinson and Phil Sandham’s first time competing in Northern Ireland, and it was a good run for them. DP Trucks, S&W Fabrication, and Atkinsons Sandblasting sponsor their red Escort Mk2, and they’ll be fighting for class B13 and Ford Escort Challenge points, just like Cole.

Preston doesn’t care about paint when he’s on the gas, so anticipate explosions from the B11 leader:

The 2006 Commonwealth Games in Gibraltar saw Jonathan Stepney participate as an amateur Olympic Skeet shooter representing Wales. The 1.9-liter Peugeot 205 GTi he drives with his stepfather, Aled Davies, has already won the class B12 division twice in two starts this year, and he and Davies want to make it three in a row.

  • Johnnie Mackay is leading the Protyre Asphalt N3 class by a considerable margin. He’s the current Scottish junior champion on a Ford Fiesta ST built by ISS/Kewtech. Martin Forrest, 20, co-drove the Down Rally, one of the main events on his bucket list for 2023, and he’s not afraid to push hard on portions he doesn’t know.
  • Protyre Motorsport will provide Pirelli, Michelin, and Hoosier tires to the Down Rally and an event-fitting service for all registered Championship participants.

After an absence of three years since its last competition, the Carryduff Forklift Down Rally will make its comeback in 2023 with eight exciting stages. It will be jointly organized by the Rathfriland and the Ballynahinch and District Motor Club. 

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