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Galway International Rally
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Galway - Saturday @ 17:50:56

RALLY NEWS NO.1 Eyre Square/Galway/Saturday evening

The Irish rally season, and more specifically the Tarmac Championship, rolls into action here tonight at the Eyre Square ceremonial start for this Safety Direct Galway International Rally. Clerk of the Course Victor Farrell and his Galway MC team has put together a compact but challenging 8 special stage event which will be more than a test of man and machine. Their efforts have been rewarded in good support from the competitors, and the promise of great competition, as at least half a dozen drivers are capable of winning.

Former multiple Tarmac Champion Eugene Donnelly, fondly known as the ‘Genie’ for his magic behind the wheel, is a late entrant. Donnelly will drive one of Derek McGeehan’s fabulous Mini WRC machines. Mark Kane will co-drive. The pair could really upset the form book here. It is has been a last minute deal for McGeehan and Donnelly to get the car to the start line, but neither that nor a minor excursion in testing on Thursday, should dent Donnelly’s chances of another Galway Rally win. The Mini, a right hand drive version, not the one that Eugene drove here last year, will carry the number 13.

His opposition is mainly from the iconic Subaru Impreza WRC marque, and includes such drivers as last year’s winner and current Tarmac Champion Darren Gass. Armagh man Gass is the No.1 seed and will head his Subaru out of parc ferme at 08.15 tomorrow morning, and will be tackling the first special stage out fornenst Monivea at 09.00. Only then, with the stopwatch ticking, will we get a firm idea of who is likely to be doing the winning and losing, through what promises to be an enthralling day. Derek McGarrity, Keith Cronin, Garry Jennings, Thomas Fitzmaurice, Donagh Kelly and Declan Boyle are all likely to be in the hunt. Top seeded local crew is John Joe Fleming and co-driver Robbie Ward in John Joe’s fabulous Focus WRC. Of all the nice cars he has had over the years, JJ reckons that this is the best, but is still finding it difficult to get accustomed to left hand drive. There is another World Rally Car in the line-up, Liam Egan has made the trip from New York and will drive an ex Eugene Donnelly Corolla WRC at No.48.

There are many angles to this event from the Group N competition through the Modified category plus the Historic and Junior sections. Sam Moffett is the highest group N seed but the Monaghan man is on tenterhooks as the hours ticked away to the rally start his Lancer had to have new pistons fitted. No such worries for Alan Ring (No.11) in his Lancer and the next GpN seed is young Josh Moffett at No.16 just ahead of Shane Maguire. Local crew Tom Flaherty and Tom Curley are the top seeded Galway men in the Modified category in their Escort. They are at No.12, Rodney Wilton is at 14 in his fabulous new Escort and Chris Armstrong, a real bright new rally hope, is at 15 in his Escort. Top Historic seed is Wesley Patterson in his FIA K class Escort. One Historic car that really caught the eye at scrutineering was No.H6, the pristine Mk1 Escort of James Power.

Some changes to the published entry list include Eoin Doyle who was to be at 9 non-starting. Other non-starters are No.29 Brian O`Keefe. No.40 David Leonard. No.42 Mark Dolphin. No.50 Eugene O`Donnell. Damien Connolly is now co-driving for Shane Maguire. Martin Brady is co-driving for Chris Armstrong.
More news after Stage 1: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net *Follow RallyNews on Twitter @Pacenotes or @ Real_RallyNews

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