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Galway International Rally
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Galway pre start - Friday @ 18:38:05
 

RALLY NEWS NO.1 Galway/Friday evening

During January we have had a few rally hiccups - thankfully now the roads are 99.9% clear of snow and ice. So, the rally season really gets going here this weekend in Galway. And what a line-up of top cars and drivers we have for this opening Tarmac Championship counter. A glittering display of cars graced the Friday evening Eyre Square Ceremonial start.

On Saturday morning it will be reigning Tarmac Champions Declan and Brian Boyle in their Subaru WRC who will head the entry away from Galway’s Clayton Hotel out to the opening Skehanagh stage near Gort. As ever, Declan has his Impreza immaculate, every nut and bolt carefully checked and cleaned, as he bids to repeat his last year’s Galway victory. That result propelled the Donegal man on to his Clonakilty Blackpudding Tarmac Championship title.

Bidding to deprive Declan and Brian of all the honours are some terrific drivers – Garry Jennings, the 2013 Champion, also in a Subaru, was looking extremely confident before the start. Garry has been doing some set-up work to his Subaru and is well pleased with it. Starting at 3 is four times Galway winner Eugene Donnelly. Over the years Eugene has built up a reputation of being able to drive any car, anywhere, anytime, very quickly. He has won this rally 4 times – twice in the Corolla, once in a Skoda and once in a Subaru! However the top podium step has eluded Eugene in the Mini. Maybe this will be the year. And he has an apprentice this time as well, Craughwell`s Dean Raftery has been given the opportunity of driving the second Colm Quinn BMW Mini. Dean has certainly proved himself to be an exceptional young rally driver, but this is a big step up for him.

Sandwiched between the two Minis is Donagh Kelly at No.4 in his Ford Focus WRC and Sam Moffett is at 5 in his Fiesta WRC. Donagh won the West Cork Rally in this car last year and was 3rd here in Galway and 2nd on the Circuit, so he certainly has the pedigree, and the car for a top result. Donagh tested his Focus WRC last week on the High Glen stage and is well pleased with the car. Sam Moffett won the Killarney Rally of the lakes in 2014 so he should also be right in the frame. The above is just the top 6 from what is a very good entry.

Josh Moffett at No.7 is still learning about his Fiesta WRC but he cannot be discounted. Declan Gallagher at 8 is the top seeded driver in the Modified category. Sadly Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh are non-starting the rally. They were here yesterday to start their recce but Patrick received a phone call regarding a sudden family bereavement. Jonny Greer rounds off the top 10 in his new Citroen DS3 R5. Then it is cross-channel visitor James Belton with Keith Moriarty co-driving in his Fiesta S2000. Pat Donegan was to be No.12 but is non-starting. Next up is Brendan Cumiskey/Ronan O`Kane in their GpN Subaru Impreza, they are the top GpN seeds.

Running behind the main field is an equally high quality line up of Historics headed by Ernie Graham and Gareth Lloyd in their respective Escorts. Adrian Kermode is at H3 in his Porsche. Then it is John Coyne in the Lotus Sunbeam with which he won the Tarmac Championship some years ago. John Spiers and Luke McCarthy, both in Porsches are at 5 & 6.

More news tomorrow: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net
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