Flaherty returns to rallycross

by Hal Ridge |

It’s been over two decades since Group B cars were banned from European Rallycross competition, and a similar amount of time since British driver Mark Flaherty last raced in the sport. That will change this weekend, when Flaherty contests the fifth round of the MSA British Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill, driving Pat Doran’s LD Motorsports Citroen DS3 Supercar, some 20 years after his last rallycross encounter.

“I won the Lydden Hill championship in 1991 and 1992. Twenty years later, I’m getting back in the seat. I’m really looking forward to it,” says Flaherty. “I finished in rallycross when they banned the Group B cars really. Back then, rallycross was huge in the UK, it was a great series. Then it fell off a cliff and it hasn’t really recovered, until now. It’s very quickly coming back again in my opinion.”

Flaherty arrived in British rallycross as the sport enjoyed a period of popularity in the late 1980s. Establishing himself as a quick driver what was then Formula B and would now be considered SuperNational where he raced a rear-wheel drive, two-litre 16v, MkII Escort, Flaherty was one several drivers who took advantage of the availability of Group B cars to make the step up to Supercar. Equipped with a brand new MG Metro 6R4 built by Will Gollop’s G-Tech company, Flaherty joined the top class and was a consistent front runner. Seen mostly in British events, Flaherty contested internationals with the Metro, but dropped from the international scene when the regulations change at the end of 1992. After winning two British Championship events in 1993, his last at Anglesey, he quit the sport, but has always been prepared for a return.

“I’ve kept my international license on, just incase I needed it,” says Flaherty, who has ambitions to return to the sport full time. “I’m sure that once I’ve driven the car at Lydden, knowing me I’ll want to do Croft at the end of the year too. We will just see how it goes. My plans really depend on how I go this weekend, but I’m planning a full assault on the British Championship next year, and some World Championship rounds too, they look fantastic.”

While away from rallycross since the end of 1993, Flaherty hasn’t be totally race free, he competed in the Porsche Carrera Cup for the second half of 2012, but it wasn’t the same. “I did a bit of Carrera Cup racing two years ago. It was my first time circuit racing, and totally different to rallycross. The Porsche budget is bonkers. British Rallycross is on a much more sensible budget, even the World Championship is.” Always quick in his 6R4, Flaherty has a lot of catching up to do at Lydden Hill, the technology of the modern Supercar has moved on considerably since the early 90’s, but the British driver is up for the challenge. “The first thing I’ve got to learn is the launch control. I’m not sure if I like the idea or not, I was always good off the start line.”

Joining Flaherty at the Lydden Hill event this weekend will be son his 21 year old son Mitchell, who makes his competition debut in the single-make Suzuki Swift Sport category.





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