Wesley Patterson edges out Steve Wood to win Carlow rally

Wesley Patterson (Lisburn) & Johnny Baird (Letterkenny) Ford Escort MkII RS
Wesley Patterson (Lisburn) & Johnny Baird (Letterkenny) Ford Escort MkII RS

Lisburn’s Wesley Patterson and co-driver Johnny Baird scored a last gasp win on the Seven Oaks Hotel Carlow Stages Rally.

Patterson trailed Welsh drive Steve Wood by 4.9 seconds heading into the final stage but emerged to take the win by just 0.3 of a second.

The win also ensured Patterson finished as the highest placed Ford Mark 2 Escort allowing him to retain the Gusclad Mark 2 Challenge Trophy which he won in 2014.

Patterson, who survived a brush with a straw bale chicane on the final stage was a relieved man at the finish.

“I am delighted to win the Mark 2 Challenge again,” he said.

“It really was a great race today. To win the rally outright is a massive bonus to be honest, that was never the target.

“My co-driver Johnny did a great job keeping me calm all day, we got our tyre choice right and it all clicked.”

Wood finished second in his Subaru Impreza WRC but a cracked manifold saw his lead decrease in the closing stages before Patterson eventually overhauled 

Until stage six it looked like the winner would be Dungannon driver Paddy McVeigh, but he crashed out of the rally on stage six while holding a commanding lead.

Declan Gallagher swapped his familiar Toyota Starlet for a Mark 2 Escort for and set some very impressive times on his way to third overall.

Two noticeable retirements were former Mark 2 Challenge winner Frank Kelly who retired with a broken halfshaft on the seventh stage while Circuit of Ireland winner Craig Breen retired on the third stage with throttle problems.