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Sligo Stages Rally 2012
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Sligo - Friday @ 18:34:01
RALLY NEWS NO.1 Sligo/Friday evening

The atmospheric ceremonial town centre start for this Sligo Stages Rally marks the opener for a great weekend’s sport. The Connacht Motor Club event is always special, and this year’s rally, although it is an opt out from the National Championship, has attracted around 90 competing crews, with one driver, Liam Egan, even travelling all the way from New York to compete. Top co-driver Paul Kiely has again swapped his competing crash helmet for his organiser’s hat, and he leads the superb team who have put this rally together, which is really a massive job. Kiely has picked a route of three challenging special stages circling the Ox Mountains to the South West of Sligo town. Each stage will be tackled three times, with service after each loop at Collooney. The finish will be at the Sligo Park Hotel and is scheduled for 5.30pm.

Monaghan’s Shane Maguire is due to lead the cavalcade of cars away from the Sligo Park hotel just before 09.00. For Shane, a son of multiple National Champion Niall, and no stranger to success himself, having won the Top Part West Coast Championship a couple of years ago, this will be something new, carrying No.1 on his GpN Impreza. Donegal brothers Trevor and Kenny Bustard are at No.2 and have been knocking on the door of rally success for some time. They could shine here in Sligo. There was a massive disappointment for this most amiable of crews when their Lancer was sidelined with gear selector trouble early on the first day of the recent Donegal Rally. The very experienced Pat Kirk, with Peter Ward co-driving in their Lancer, rounds off the top three.

Numbers 4-8 are all Escorts with the drivers being Jim McKenna, Jonathan Pringle, Alistair Cochrane, Arthur Kierans and Daniel Conaghan. Columba Heena and John Ward are at 9 and 10 in their respective Corollas. Wild cards who will almost certainly be slotted into the top 10 include Garry Jennings and John Cairns. Garry, who is still coming down to earth following his brilliant Donegal International Rally victory, has elected at the last minute to drive Herbie Blackburn’s Corolla WRC. John Cairns has always been a front runner on this Sligo Rally, although he crashed out last year. John bought a Lancer a few days ago specially to do this rally. He hasn’t been competing since his accident here last year. Anthony Cairns is another last minute entry and he is down to drive a Subaru.

Further names to look out for include New Yorker Liam Egan as mentioned above. He is driving a McGeehan Corolla WRC. Former multiple Tarmac Champion Eugene Donnelly will co-drive. Liam starts at No.22 and ahead of him is Andrew Mullen/Elaine Doherty at No.21. Mullen requested the number 21 as his company Sligo Pallets sponsors the Border Championship and this is the 21st year of the series. Andrew was fighting for the lead of the last round, the Mourne Rally, and eventually finished 2nd. He will almost certainly be moved up the start order. The Stewards of the rally have to approve all the re-seeding later tonight. Further non-starters include Ian Gunning who was to be at 16 and Mark Ewing (50).
More news after stage 1: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net
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