Find out more about our subscriptions

Barrable starts Irish round of European Rally Championship on top

Robert Barrable, Circuit of Ireland

Irishman Robert Barrable set the fastest time on the qualifying stage of the Circuit of Ireland Rally, round four of the European Rally Championship.

Barrable made the most of running soft tyres on his Ford Fiesta R5, after an unexpected rain shower compromised conditions for the 2.54-mile Whinney Hill stage.

Barrable elected to run fifth on the road for the start of the main event.

"The plan is to push hard from the first stage," he told AUTOSPORT. "We're going to give it a go, but I think the pace is going to be really hot at the front."

Moffett brothers Josh and Sam will have the honour of leading the cars into the stage, with ERC leader Craig Breen fourth on the road.

Watch qualifying highlights on AUTOSPORT's rallying page

Breen was fastest of the cars running hard-compound tyres and believes fourth is a good place from which to challenge for victory.

"The rain came at just the wrong time," he said, "but it doesn't matter. We wanted to be fourth and we are fourth on the road.

"I've waited all of my life for a moment like this and it's here. The recce has been fantastic, perfect and now we're just ready to start. I can't wait."

Breen's Peugeot team-mate Kevin Abbring was just 1.2 seconds behind him in the second 208 T16. He starts sixth, just ahead of Skoda trio Sepp Weigand, Esapekka Lappi and Neil Simpson.

Abbring said: "These are great roads. I did Rally Ireland in 2009 and really enjoyed the stages. But Craig knows these roads, so it could be tough."

After Thursday evening's ceremonial start in the centre of Belfast, the crews will head to the first loop of stages south of Ballynahinch on Friday morning.

Running order
1 Josh Moffett (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX)
2 Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta RRC)
3 Robert Consani (Peugeot 207 S2000)
4 Craig Breen (Peugeot 208 T16)
5 Robert Barrable (Ford Fiesta R5)
6 Kevin Abbring (Peugeot 208 T16)
7 Sepp Weigand (Skoda Fabia S2000)
8 Esapekka Lappi (Skoda Fabia S2000)
9 Neil Simpson (Skoda Fabia S2000)

  More news  
Read the AUTOSPORT Digital Edition
Visit the shop
See highlights from 60 years of AUTOSPORT
Lappi claims dominant Ireland win
Breen's Ireland victory bid ends
Lappi takes shock lead in Ireland