If Barry McKenna liked chocolate before last week, he certainly wasn’t a fan of the Méxican El Chocolate variety after the third round of the World Rally Championship last week.
Making his debut at the sport’s highest level at Rally México, the American-based Irishman impressed series regulars by setting top-three WRC3 times aboard his DirtFish-decaled Škoda Fabia R5.
The American Rally Association series leader’s hopes of landing a big result in León were spoiled by problems on precisely the same part of Friday’s El Chocolate stage.
“We had a puncture on the first run through in the morning,” McKenna told DirtFish. “And that became a bigger problem because the socket came off the nut gun and rolled under the seat so we had to get the wheel off using the bar [wheel brace].”
Worse was to follow on the opening afternoon when, six miles into the same stage, the Fabia was stopped in its tracks – the same tracks – for the second time.
“Coming into service we noticed a problem with the fuel pump,” McKenna explained. “We thought we had it sorted in service, but we didn’t and we stopped second time through Chocolate and we must have been within 100 yards of where we got the puncture in the morning.”
That was the end of day one. Day two brought another puncture and a mechanical failure just before the finish.
Despite those issues, McKenna said his WRC debut had lived up to his expectations.
“The stages have been just fantastic,” he said. “It was annoying to get the punctures and the problems, but listen it’s great to get some onboards that we can work with next year and 100% I’ll be back here again.”
When his Škoda was onsong – and well away from any El Chocolate – McKenna was able to post times at the sharp end of WRC 3, including an impressive third quickest on only his second ever WRC stage, the tricky run through the Guanajuato street test on Thursday night.
His best time was second quickest to local hero and 2012 Production Car World Rally champion Benito Guerra on Saturday morning’s opener.