Niall McShea starred on the Rally Deutschland, mastering appalling weather conditions to take second on the event and move into fourth place in the points standings for this year's FIA World Production Car Championship.

Underlining his speed and that of the Subaru Impreza he drives, McShea set a string of fastest times, including taking the honour of being fastest runner on the notorious 40-kilometre Panzerplatte stage when it was at its most treacherous on Saturday evening.

The Lloyd Helicopters-backed driver set a front-running pace throughout, and was only denied a shot at victory when he slid straight on into a bush as rain lashed down on the opening stage of the event. The drama cost him 30 seconds.

"The conditions were so slippery that every driver had problems somewhere in the stages," said McShea, who is co-driven by Michael Orr. "Unfortunately, ours was more time-consuming. It took the pressure off Xavier Pons, the event winner, but with the roads caked in mud and gravel, and the rain lashing down, we would have had to take far too many risks to go after him.

"With the championship at stake, I couldn't afford any major mistakes. It was better to drive with my head and learn as much as I could about the car on asphalt rather than risk an accident for the two points a win would have earned me. Now we are in a fantastic championship position and looking forward to the rest of the year."

With the SYMS built car running faultlessly to the finish, McShea was well-clear of the battle for third and had moved into the runner-up position in the title fight. Furthermore, with championship leader Jani Paasonen struggling to fifth place, McShea is now just ten points off the lead with two rounds to go.

Crucially, though, under series rules Paasonen must miss the next round in Corsica of the championship as drivers are only allowed to compete on six of the seven rounds. McShea has already dropped his score and is heading to the next event full of confidence.

"Last year I won the class in Corsica, driving a year-old car," said McShea. "I don't expect it to be at all easy going back there, but at least that result gives me plenty of optimism for the rest of the year."

The Tour of Corsica runs from October 15-17.



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