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Banna Beach Kerry Mini Stages
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Pre Start - Sunday @ 09:04:03

RALLY NEWS NO.1 Banna Beach Resort/Sunday morning

Once again this Banna Beach Resort Kerry Mini Stages has come up trumps with a full and interesting entry. The organising Kerry Motor Club, under the direction of the irrepressible Clerk of the Course Jakes Kelly, must be doing something right!

Last year’s winner Alan Ring, along with his co-driver Adrian Deasy in their Lancer will head the flotilla of cars away from the Banna Beach for the five fast special stages around the Ardfert area. Last year Ring won here in an absolute thriller of a finish, and was just 1 second ahead of Thomas Fitzmaurice when the cars reached the Banna finish.

Transmission Links Ireland man Fitzmaurice isn’t competing this time, but Ring will still face some very strong opposition. At scrutiny in Ardfert quarry yesterday, Munster joinery man Ring remarked. “My Lancer is just the same as when we finished the Cork 20 where it was going well towards the end of the rally. Yes, the stages are fast here and if it stays dry there are a couple of boys behind us will be hard to hold. Still, we’re here to enjoy it, that’s what it is all about”. Cork man Barry Meade is at 3 in his 2.4 litre Escort, and he is just simply stunningly fast everywhere! James Stafford was to be at No.2 but his Darrian has reportedly encountered gearbox trouble and will not be starting.

Mike Quinn at 4 in his Escort, no stranger to the Banna territory, has the added incentive this weekend of possible victory in the Top Part West Coast Championship. Quinn and his co-driver Grainne McEnery will be bidding not just for a good result here, but to do enough to clinch the Championship. The driver who could deprive them of Top Part honours is current Champion Shane Maguire. Shane, whose GpN Impreza is at 6 today, has Sean Mullally co-driving. Sean usually sits with Kevin Barrett. If Shane does come out on top of this winner takes all scenario Sean could be the champion co-driver. Mike Quinn who lives in the hills between Tralee and Listowel said before the start. “The car was good on its last outing in Clare where I was trying different suspensions. We’ve kept it just the same and I don’t really mind it its wet or dry for the rally”.

Slotted in at the last moment is Liam McCarthy in his Corolla WRC. Liam carries the number 133 on his Toyota, and will run 2nd on the road ahead of Barry Meade in his Escort. McCarthy has not driven his Corolla since putting it off the road on the Galway Summer Rally so he will be in at the deep end today. Brian O’Mahony is at 5 in his father’s Metro 6R4 – an old car but a very potent one, and judging by the pace former British Junior Rally Champion Brian was showing on his recent Subaru outings, he could well be another in the winning frame here today.

Ed O’Callaghan in his Escort, John McQuaid (Escort) and Fergus O’Meara in the ‘Dairymaster’ Escort make up the top ten. Mark Donnelly was to have been at 8 in his Clio but is a non-starter. Fergus O’Meara’s co-driver Charlie McEnery told us that Fergus is still adjusting the suspension set up on his Escort as the car was a little wandery on the fast straights. News of further withdrawals - Barry Ryan (16): John Hickey (42). More re-seeds – David Percy (Escort Maxi No.24) will start 15th on the road. Martin Cunningham (Civic No.128) will start inside top 30.

On the WRC Wales Rally GB the big news this morning is that Sebastien Loeb has been forced to retire from the rally following a head on collision on a narrow road section. Sebastien and co driver Daniel Elena are uninjured as are the occupants of the other car. Sebastien still wins his 8th World title. Latvala leads the rally comfortably from Mads Otsberg with Henning Solberg 3rd and Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle 4th in the Mini. The FIA Academy finished last night and Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts scored a fantastic victory and won the Academy on the strength of fastest Academy stage times. Although he led by over 4m Craig had to win the last stage to take victory and the €500,000 first prize. This Craig duly did. It was an extraordinary drive from 21 year old Craig who is from Waterford.
More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net

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