THINGS did not go to plan for rally driver Aaron McClure as he crashed out of his opening event of the year.

The Flookburgh speed machine saw his attempts to start the BTRDA Rally Series is style take a tumble in the Cambrian Rally.

After a promising opening two stages, McClure rolled his All Floors Express/Yokohama-backed Mitsubishi E9 into retirement on the third leg, causing significant damage and putting his chances of competing in the next round – Cumbria’s own Malcolm Wilson Rally – in doubt.

The 21-year-old was confident of his class NR4 chances going into 2016 after the winter rebuild of the car and having been joined by new co-driver, American Alex Kihurani.

They had high hopes of a strong result in the hotly contested Production category, and set off from the Llandudno promenade start to tackle the opening 4.6-mile Gwydyr stage.

A puncture just past the halfway mark cost the duo more than 10 seconds and left them languishing outside the top 20.

The fightback began on the second test, as McClure recorded an impressive eighth overall stage time, which halved their ranking and meant they could regain some lost time on the NR4 category leaders.

But it would all end on stage three, when McClure turned in a moment too early, catching an unseen bank on the inside of a corner and flipping the car across the stage and out of the rally.

“I’m devastated with how it has ended,” he said.

“The car felt great, it was performing really well on the Yokohama tyres and Alex was fantastic on the notes, but I just turned in a second too early and we clipped a bank on the inside.

“It was a slow but really unexpected roll, it took us both by surprise and there simply weren’t enough people around to get us going again.

“The Cambrian Rally has never been kind to me – we retired last year too. If I didn’t have bad luck, I wouldn’t have any at all.”

McClure faces a race against time to ready the car for the Malcolm Wilson Rally next month.

“We really need to get the car stripped to assess the damage but it’s not looking good,” he said.

“While it was a fairly slow and gentle roll, every panel is damaged and the costs for getting it back to how it was are going to be substantial.

“The next round is just three weeks away and it’s my home event, so I would be gutted to miss it.

“I have unfinished business there, so we will do everything we can to get it ready. It’s certainly not the start to my championship that I was looking for.”

Progress on repairing the car has progressed faster than expected, with McClure Tweeting pictures of the ongoing work, and saying: “Less than 24 hours after the initial impact we had made significant progress.

“The Wilson is rapidly approaching ...”

McClure is supported by Fuchs Lubricants, IPD Motorsport Services, Camp Road Garage, Carcraft Body Repairs, Darce Tech Racing, Questmead, Arnside Motor Sport and MCR Motorsport Media.