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Rally of the Lakes
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Killarney - Friday @ 19:03:02
RALLY NEWS NO.1 Killarney/Scrutineering/Friday evening

Once again the Fire Station on the Killarney Ring Road has burst into rally action as the 120 cars entered in this Killarney Lakes were put through their pre-event scrutineering safety checks. The rally, a round of both the Tarmac and Southern Four Championships, has attracted a high calibre top-end entry, with last year’s winners Daragh O’Riordan/Tony McDaid the No.1 seeds in their fabulous Subaru Impreza WRC S12c.

In close attendance to young Midleton man O’Riordan are Tim McNulty, Darren Gass and Eugene Donnelly. The latter two, Gass and Donnelly, are shaping up to be the front runners in this season’s Tarmac series. Gass has two wins and Donnelly two second places under their belts starting this 3rd round. O’Riordan is the current Southern Four Champion and won this year’s opening round, West Cork. He will be under pressure here in Killarney to repeat his win of last year, especially with Tim McNulty breathing down his neck.

Current Tarmac Champion McNulty will almost certainly be the pace-setter, but nobody knows better than Tim just how tough and demanding these classic Killarney stages can be. Gass, brilliant driver that he is, is in a slightly older model Subaru. Discretion rather than valour could be his game plan here, if he wants to take another step towards winning his first Tarmac Championship. Eugene Donnelly is a five times former Tarmac Champion, and his Corolla WRC, although a brilliant car, is hardly in it’s first flush of youth. We can probably look forward to seeing Donnelly setting a smooth fast pace, his focus always on Tarmac points and the finish podium back at the Gleneagle Hotel on Sunday evening.

Behind those top four likely front runners there are a selection of quick and talented drivers more than capable of upsetting the apple cart if anybody in front has a hiccup. Garry Jennings at 6 leads the Production category in his Lancer and is 3rd o/a in the Tarmac points. Indeed, Jennings has so much pace that he is rarely far away from the outright fastest times either. He does have a change of co-driver here, as David Moynihan has got a call to sit with Marty McCormack on the Tour de Corse Rally. Barry McNulty is now co-driving for Garry. Aaron MacHale, in a Focus WRC, is at 7. Munster Joinery man Alan Ring is at 8 in his GpN Lancer. When Alan goes well he is very quick, but has had a string of misfortunes with his car over the past while, and that’s despite leaving nothing to chance. If his fortunes change here, on his home rally, Alan should be right in the middle of the action.

Sam Moffett, the current Billy Coleman Award winner, is at 9 in his Lancer, and although still only 22, is shaping up to be a very accomplished driver indeed. Again, if he gets a good run, Sam shouldn’t be a mile away, although what will count against him is that he has no experience of the Killarney stages.

Roy White in the FESP backed MG S2000 rounds off the top ten. Roy, a former GpN Tarmac Champion, is really the top seed in the National section, although carrying no 10 on this interesting and very potent Mountune engined Super 2000 car.

Then just outside the top ten, we have two more WRC cars, both Ford Focuses, to be driven by Eoin Doyle and JJ Fleming, followed by Ger O’Donovan and Vincent O’Shea in their respective GpN cars. Then we have a string of brilliant Mk2 machines with drivers such as Kevin O’Donoghue, Martin McGee and Fergus O’Meara sure to provide plenty of action on the stages. A late addition to the Escort ranks is Barry Meade who slots in at 23 with Liam Moynihan co-driving.

The rally is also a round of the Citroen Racing Trophy. Kevin O’Connor is the current points leader and top Citroen seed at No.37 with David Carney and Kieran Daly the next two in line. Non-starters amongst the Citroens include Joe McGonigle, Peter Barrable, Paul Manton and Sean Agnew. Non-Starters in the main rally include Brian O’Keefe (26) and Kyle Orr (32).

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