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Sligo Stages Rally 2012
RALLY NEWS No.2 - Kings Inn / Castlewellan - Saturday @ 08:32:59
Rally News No 1 The Kings Inn/Castlewellan Sat 8.00 am

With the towering Slieve Donard makes a stunning backdrop to this morning’s start venue in Castlewellan, this year’s Hankook backed Down Rally is certainly creating a fantastic buzz this morning. For 2012, the Down Rally has secured a road closing permit for the first time and Clerk of the Course Andy Gilmore has made full use of the opportunity. He and his organising team have picked four challenging stages utilising some the best characteristics the local roads can offer. The crews will tackle each stage twice during the course of the day, returning to service in Castlewellan to fettle their machines after every two stages.

Current NI Championship points leader Derek McGarrity will head the 55 strong entry away from the start ramp this morning. McGarrity will use his ex-Tim McNulty Impreza S12 today and he will be the benchmark driver this morning as he runs first on the road. Derek McGeehan has refettled his Mini WRC this week following last weekend’s Lough Neagh Rally but Derek may be at a slight disadvantage initially as he has never really driven the Mini on stages like those on offer today. The same cannot be said about number 3 seed Donagh Kelly in his WRC Impreza. Winner here last year when the event ran on gravel, Donagh had a great run recently in Donegal and should be a real threat for victory. Equally, the same can be said about the mercurial Kenny McKinstry at No 4. Kenny has vast experience and has won the Down rally twice in the past three years. Kenny would have preferred to be driving one of his right hand drive cars but somehow his daughter Emma won that toss and she starts at nine with partner Kenny Hull on the notes while Kenny Snr drives his LHD S11 and has Limerick’s Sean Mullaly in the co-drivers seat.

George Robinson starts his newly built Lancer at 6, the machine is fundamentally a GpA car with a sequential gearbox and a bigger turbo so George cannot be discounted.

Drew Stewart has been a revelation this year in his older Escort Mk2. His overall win on the recent Mourne Rally came as no surprise as he has been consistently the fastest 2wd driver on this seasons NI Championship. Today should be no exception and his Escort should be a pace setter today but he will face some strong competition. Fintan McGrady and John Waring can never be discounted in their similar Escorts then throw in drivers like Declan McNaughton, Davy Armstrong and Vivian Hamill and a real race is likely. Martin Teggart was a late entry and will be reseeded in with the top Mk2’s and will also be worth watching.

Trevor Ferguson is the highest seeded Group N car at 8 and he will be looking for a class win today. Other potential GpN frontrunners include Gerard McFall in his Lancer and Paddy McVeigh in his Impreza.

Some changes to the entry list include Non-Starts Nigel Simpson and Sammy Wilson who both have mechanical problems. Jim McSherry is co-driving for historic front runner Andy Johnson while Avril Morton is now sitting with Eamon McLaughlin.
More News Later………. Michael & Zoe Patterson.

2020 Patterson Agencies

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