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Jul
11
  Irish Notes
by Brian & Liz Patterson



Irish Notes 11th July 2018

Unfortunately the Sligo Stages Rally, re-scheduled from last weekend to this weekend coming, has had to be called off again because of the ongoing worry over high temperatures, melting tar and damage to the roads. The Connacht Motor Club has tried very hard to see a way through this difficulty, but to no avail. It is ironic indeed that rallying, so often in difficulty because of bad weather, is now brought to its knees because of this unaccustomed long spell of sunshine. Some of the roads in the Sligo region have already had ‘melt damage’. One can only feel sympathy for the hard working Clerk of the Course Robert Lyttle and his Connacht MC team following the huge amount of effort and expertise that has gone into the preparation of the rally.

The event was to have been a counter in the Triton Showers National Championship, so the search is now on for an alternative to keep the total number of rounds at 7. The Galway Summer, now on the alternative date of August 19th to avoid the Papal visit, is a possibility, as is the Fastnet Rally later in the year (28th October).

Declan Boyle currently leads the series from Joe McGonigle with Donagh Kelly 3rd. Josh Moffett is 4th. Following his off-road excursion on the Achill opener 2016 Champion Roy White is down in joint 6th with Kevin Barrett. Stuart Darcy (Darrian) is 5th. However, with 4 rounds remaining, the series is wide open. The next rally in the series is scheduled to be the Tipperary Stonethrowers (12th August).

The North Armagh MC’s Loughgall Stages did go ahead last weekend. Damian Toner scored his 4th consecutive victory. Co-driven by Joe Comerford in his Escort, Toner again demonstrated great speed through the Loughgall lanes, finishing 28 seconds ahead of Keith White/Paul Mulholland in their Escort. John Bradley/Ryan Crozier were 3rd, while Jason Black/Jack McKenna had a great run in their Starlet to finish 4th and win their smaller capacity class. James and Rebecca Kennedy were 5th with Barry Morris/Declan Campbell rounding off the top half dozen. As is the tradition with the Loughgall event there was a great static display of interesting cars, and spectator interest was high.

This weekend coming, with no stage rallying on home territory, the focus will be on the Nicky Grist Stages (14th July) through the forests around Epynt. The rally is a counter in the BTRDA series. Tom Cave, who is taking somewhat of a sabbatical this season, will drive the Spencer Sport Mirage at the front of the field. Top Championship contenders running in the top ten include Stephen Petch, Matt Edwards, Paul Bird and Luke Francis. Omagh’s Martin Cairns, with Gary McElhinney co-driving, are making the trip and are seeded at 10 in Martin’s Fiesta WRC. Also going is Martin Laverty in his ‘N3’ Fiesta, to be co-driven by Phil Kenny.


Looking forward to the following weekend and the Imokilly Stages (22nd July), Clerk of the Course Emmet Cronin has laid out two exceptionally interesting stages over new territory for the event, East of Midleton. In addition there will be a test stage.

Also that weekend, on the Saturday (21st July), the Rathfriland MC and the Ballynahinch MC have joined forces to organise the Carryduff Forklift backed Down Rally. The event is based in the vast Eikon complex, so that scrutiny, rally office, service and spectator stage plus the after rally party are all together. The spectator stage is repeated three times at various intervals and there are three closed road stages repeated, including Hamiltons Folly. Three of the ‘proper’ stages are done three times, one of them twice. Being a round of the Protyre MSA Asphalt Championship as well as the McGrady Insurance NI Championship, the event has attracted a really strong entry. Melvyn Evans, a strong contender in the MSA Asphalt series is the number 1 seed, this time in a Fiesta WRC rather than his Subaru Impreza WRC, with Mark Glennister co-driving. Indeed the biggest majority of the top 30 cars are four-wheel-drive, either WRCs or R5s, with 1 or 2 GpN cars for good measure. There are just 2 Escorts in the top twenty, to be driven by Ross Brusby and Camillus Bradley.

The entry is at the capacity 130, with a few crews on a reserve list. Just some of the top drivers besides Melvyn Evans include Jason Pritchard, David Bogie, Desi Henry, Jonny Greer and Derek McGarrity. Interestingly, although Jonny Greer is sticking with his Fiesta R5 (maybe!), he has been asked to drive the new Citroen R5 at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, to be co-driven by Down Rally Clerk of the Course Brian Crawford - quite an occasion. We will have more news on both Imokilly and Down Rally next week.

Looking much further ahead, Clare Stages Clerk of the Course Gerry O’Brien is well advanced with his plans for his 16th September event. The rally will be based in the Hotel Woodstock (Ennis), there will be centralised servicing/scrutiny in the Clare Mart Complex and there will be three stages repeated three times in North Clare. The rally will be a round of the Triton Showers National Championship, and will accommodate the new class 23 for novices. With no Banna Beach rally scheduled for this year, the rally will be the final round of the West Coast Championship. There will 6 free entries, picked by raffle, for those who get their entry in early. The event is supported by McEnery Motor Services, Michael Fitzgibbon and Hotel Woodstock. Of special interest will be the destiny of the ‘Colin McRae Flat Out Cup’ for the fastest 2wd Modified.

Finally for now, we wish to add our condolences to the widespread grief occasioned by the death of William Dunlop, tragically killed in a practice accident for the Skerries Road Races last Saturday. Our thoughts are very much with his family and friends in Armoy and further afield.
Brian & Liz Patterson and family

 
 
 



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