Daniel Barry and co-driver Martin Brady were delighted to cross the line of the Manx Telecom Rally to win the fourth round of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge and, in doing so, take their third Mitsubishi series victory of the season - their first on asphalt.
Traditionally the first non-forest rally of the season for the Mitsubishi series, even with just three cars the event saw the Evolution Challenge field represent 43 per cent of the N4 Class and 37.5 per cent of the MSA Gravel Championship entry.
The action got underway on Friday evening with a run through Port Erin on the southern coast of the Ireland. Fastest of the Evo Challenge crews on the first stage were Barry/Brady, who stopped the clock just over a second ahead of both Hughes/Parry and Elsmore/Drew.
With the weather on the island living up to its reputation of changing from dry to wet on the same stretch of road, grip levels for the evening's remaining four stages were a lottery and in SS2 Hughes/Parry were caught out and spun, losing 20 seconds in the process.
As cars headed to the TT Grandstand for the overnight halt after six stages, interim results showed Barry/Brady leading the Evo Challenge charge by 17 seconds, ahead of Hughes/Parry, who were doing their best to make up for lost time and had overhauled Elsmore/Drew by 14 seconds.
Saturday dawned dry and bright and the first loop of four stages was run mainly in the dry. Hughes/Parry were to drop time again on the second of the morning's stages, when a front driveshaft took a turn for the worse. However, that soon became the least of their worries when, on the next stage, the car went light going over a series of bumps and spun at over 100mph, bouncing off the banks on either side of the road.
Although the front and rear of their Evo IX was damaged and the car's differential pump had been broken – causing the centre differential not to operate correctly – Hughes was able to nurse the car back to Douglas for the first service halt of the day, where his team set about a variety of repairs.
Barry/Brady also experienced dramas on stage nine, when their car bounced into a ditch following a deceptive jump just before the finish. They admitted that luck was on their side, as they got away with just a puncture, the removal of the rear bumper and, most importantly, without losing any time.
Just before the next leg of three stages the heavens opened and all three Evo Challenge crews were pleased to have opted for wet-weather tyres. But when the rain stopped and SS12 was cancelled due to an obstruction in the stage, the roads in SS13 started to dry out, which caused the Mitsubishi crews a series of entertaining sideways moments due to the choice of soft rubber.