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West Cork Rally
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Pre Start - Saturday @ 09:17:48
RALLY NEWS NO.1 Quality Hotel Clonakilty/Saturday

This West Cork Rally has attracted 131 starters in the main field, with another 15 cars joining in under the Historic and Junior sections. There are 16 special stages, including two runs through the high profile Clonakilty town stage. Daragh O’Riordan/Tony McDaid in their Impreza WRC are the No.1 seeds. Midleton Scariff plant hire man Daragh was hoping to test his Subaru last night following a major rebuild but time ran out. He reported however that all is well with the car and he is looking forward to the rally. Daragh will surely be the man to beat here this weekend. Of course ‘there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip’ as the old saying goes, and on a rally this big, with such a complexity of high speed tests, literally anything can happen over the course of the two days. At No.2 is Colm Murphy in his GpN Impreza. Colm rallies on a really small budget, and so many times the former GpN Tarmac Champion has had mechanical issues with his car, it prompted his co-driver Don Montgomery to comment last night in the rally HQ Quality Hotel, “It’s totally confusing, everything is going too well!”

Clonakilty man Kevin Kelleher was another in a last minute rush to get his car ready for the rally, but unfortunately it has not worked out. Despite a last minute trip to Galway to get a new differential it looks as if the car won’t be ready and the team will probably not be starting. Alan Ring/James O’Brien reported no last minute issues with their Lancer, and after a foreshortened trip on the recent Galway Rally Alan is hoping for some decent mileage here in preparation for the Circuit.

Praying for dry roads is the crew of car 5, John Dalton/Gwynfor Jones in their Darrian. Welshman John, whose business is preparing and selling all wheel terrain buggies to farmers, has the speed in himself and his potent Darrian to challenge for the lead. If the roads are dry it will be less of a disadvantage for John against the 4-wheel drive machinery. Certainly, despite some heavy showers during the night conditions on this St. Patrick’s morning are looking fairly bright at the moment. John commented before the start, “This will be our first time out since Donegal last year. I did test last week on Epynt over four stages, and we were setting competitive times. I only plan to do one rally this year, this one. It’s so exciting to be here. I love the stages, fast, flowing, quite technical, and some of the gravelly bits that were on last year have been cut out. Only a win will do me. I’ll keep coming back until I get it!”

James Stafford was to be at No.6 but he has reportedly had car problems and is non-starting. This leaves Damien McCarthy/Eamon Hayes next up, carrying No.7 on their Civic. Damien has been one of the quickest West Cork drivers in recent years, although several times gearbox troubles have hampered his progress. He has a new Sanez gearbox fitted this time, and if everything holds together we can expect a real giant killing performance from these two very talented young men. Peter Lloyd/Martin Brady and John Cope/Alistair Wylie in their Subarus are at 8 and 9 while Leonard Downey/Mark Murphy make up the top 10 in their Escort. Leonard was a little worried about a misfire in his car but that seems to be sorted.
Further non-starters besides Kevin Kelleher and James Stafford include Vincent O’Shea (No.19) whose Lancer has stripped some gears when testing. Ed Murphy/John McCarthy (No.26) have pulled out because of a bereavement. Sean Ryan (No.37) and Steve Roberts (No.54) have both withdrawn because of car troubles. Joe Shrimpton was to be one of the Citroen C2R2 runners but he is also non-starting which leaves just 7 cars in the Citroen Racing Trophy category. More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net Follow us on Twitter @ pacenotes

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