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West Cork Rally
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Clonakilty - Saturday @ 09:50:59

RALLY NEWS NO.1 Quality Hotel/HQ/Clonakilty Saturday morning

The rally has a new streamlined look this year, but it is still the same charismatic and exciting St Patrick`s weekend West Cork Rally that it has always been. However it is a far cry from the days when it ran out of Inchydoney, with the Superser heaters in the dining room and the surf booming on that magnificent beach just outside the front door. In those days Mr. Bones (Michael O`Connor) ran the rally from Shanahans Garage/Undertakers, above Leap village. Mr Bones sat on an upturned coffin, with a hand written schedule and a multi-valve radio contraption perched in front of him on two more upturned coffins. It has all moved on of course. No doubt Mr Bones will be keeping an eye on things here in Clonakilty from his new base in Australia via the Internet.

Things have moved on for the drivers in the rally as well. No.1 seed Darragh O`Riordan has a steep learning curve ahead of him over this weekend`s twelve stages, his new Fiesta WRC very different from his last year`s winning Subaru. This new car has a manual type gearshift and a very different power band. No.2 seed Brian O’Mahony is also in at the deep end with his new Impreza WRC S14, different from anything he has ever driven.
On the other hand, one of the most relaxed drivers at the front of the rally is Clonakilty man Kevin Kelleher. He is reasonably happy that he has his Subaru sorted and indeed went for a round of golf this morning as a way of chilling out before today`s noon start from the Model Village. John Dalton at No.4 is another who could go well, particularly if the roads dry, as his Darrian is exactly the same as it was here last year. About the only thing different in it is the oil.

Big things are expected from 2005 winner Denis Cronin (running with No.141 on the car) but the man himself feels it will take him 2 days to get into the way of the ex Thomas Fitzmaurice Impreza WRC S11. Denis explained. “I will just try and get comfortable in the car. I do not know what to expect. It is a big change for me. The first thing was actually getting into it, my legs are too long and I didn’t fit. It is hard to get rid of the habits of 30 years and not be going for the gearstick and pressing the clutch. The paddles are all new to me. There is a huge difference between this car and my old one. This one has 150 Newton metres of torque and is very smooth. You don’t feel you are doing the speed. Even the steering is fantastic. In the heat of the moment though I could struggle this weekend.`

Owen Murphy is at No.5 and he of course is well used to his Lancer while Frank Kelly at No.6 is the first of the Escort contenders. Frank has a new engine, gearbox and back axle in his Ford. It was all a last minute rush to get the car ready and Frank said. `We managed to get a couple of miles done after scrutiny, it seemed OK and there were no drips underneath her when we stopped`. He reckons he will be hard pushed to finish best 2-wheel drive on this event as there is so much opposition. John Dalton is probably his biggest rival but there is a lot of really good opposition in Escorts including Ed O`Callaghan, Adrian Hetherington, Kevin O`Donoghue and several more. Then of course there is Damien McCarthy/Eamonn Hayes in the giant killing Civic. Welshman Gwyn Thomas (No.22) should have been in the 2 wd mix but has taken ill and is unable to start. We wish him a speedy recovery. That is only the tip of the iceberg of course on what should be a fascinating Quality Hotel West Cork Rally. More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net Follow RallyNews on Twitter @Pacenotes or @Real_RallyNews

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