Sport can be cruel, but certain events can make it special. Last week, John Warren, a design engineer with McHale Engineering, sat with his head in his hands and took a long, hard look at his Toyota Corolla Rally car, after he recently returned to Irish rallying following a four-year hiatus. John was sitting on the crest of the best result of his career, as he and his navigator, Ruthann O’ Connor, were competing at the Laois Heartlands Rally.
The pair were knocking on the door of the top 10, when disaster struck, on the final stage. While negotiating a tight country lane section amidst a heavy rain shower, their rally car lost grip and collided with the bank, resulting in the McHale Rally car being upended. The pair, thanks to the safety equipment in rally cars, walked away without a scratch; the car, however, was far from OK, taking on damage to numerous body panels.
Now John was left in a dilemma. Originally from Sligo but working in the Ballinrobe factory, it looked like he was going to miss his native Motorsport event, the Sligo Stages Rally. But as a man who, at work doesn’t believe any task is impossible, he set upon rebuilding his rally car, with new body panels, new parts, a fresh coat of McHale green paint. Following lots of very late evenings after long days at work and with a lot of help from friends, John and Ruthann made it to the start line of the Sligo Stages Rally on Sunday last - but that’s not where this mammoth tale ends; the pair went on to finish the event as top Mayo crew and in 17th place from 125 starters - an absolutely unbelievable ending to a very busy week for the McHale Fusion Rally crew.