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Monaghan Stages Rally
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Monaghan - Sunday @ 09:14:00
RALLY NEWS NO.1 Monaghan/Sunday morning

Mechanical mishaps have been the order of the day for some of the top drivers on the lead up to this Monaghan Rally. However such is the draw of the event, as well the Dunlop National Championship, of which this is the 2nd round, that all the top crews have pulled out the stops to ensure that they are on the Hillgrove Hotel start line. Mechanical mishaps? Just a few – even former multiple Monaghan winner and triple National Champion Niall Maguire had a few heart stopping moments with his Subaru`s engine which took a bit of sorting out. His son Shane is swapping his Impreza for a Lancer in a quest for more speed on his home rally.

Sam Moffett had his Gp N Lancer out for a wee test run, discovered a problem with the engine and in a very last minute deal has hired Kenny McKinstry`s Impreza WRC S14. CombiLift man Sam has never really driven a WRC car before, so he will be in at the deep end. He will also have to readjust to left-hand drive, so commented. `Don`t expect too much`. Sam`s brother Josh was another in a race against the clock, at least his engineer Gerry McGarrity was, readying Josh`s Lancer following the accident on the Wm. Loughman rally last weekend. The car was finished with minutes to spare before scrutineering.

Dunlop Championship points leader Declan Boyle was also able to breathe a sigh of relief that the panel damage on his Subaru has been successfully repaired in time for the rally. Donegal man Declan has been on the crest of a rally wave so hopefully his bump on the Kerry rally two weeks ago does not upset his form.
It is not just the crews at the front of the field with last minute dramas of course. Young Gary McNamee, who has his father Breen co-driving his Civic this weekend, has been burning the midnight oil fitting new Proflex suspension, as well as other bits and pieces to his Civic, and has just made it to the start by the skin of his teeth.

Come the first stage at 10 o’clock just outside Emyvale, all these pre-start dramas will be forgotten about. The rally has a fabulous entry and an excellent top ten. Current Billy Coleman Award recipient and last year`s Monaghan winner, Daniel McKenna, is no 1 seed but has a guest co-driver in his Escort so may not want to be first on the road. What a line up there is. Declan Boyle, Niall Maguire, Donagh Kelly and Tarmac Champion Darren Gass are all in Subaru WRCs.

Darragh O’Riordan has come up from Cork to take his place in the line up at 6 in his fabulous new Fiesta WRC. Then it is Gary McPhillips in his Escort, James Stafford in his Darrian at 7 – a real dark horse bet is James, the car is so quick on fast roads. Then there is the effervescent Frank Kelly at 9 and cross-channel visitor James Belton in his Subaru WRC at 10. That’s just the sharp end of what is an exceptionally strong entry. Sometimes the atmosphere up in Letterkenny for the Donegal rally is described as the `Donegal Fever`. Perhaps here this weekend it is a case of the `Monaghan Mania`!

Looking outside Monaghan, there was good news from Somerset yesterday as Connor McCloskey/Francis Reagan in their Impreza WRC won the 3rd round of the BTRDA Championship to extend their series lead. Connor admitted to being bit ragged in the morning and was trailing Charlie Payne (Focus WRC) by 1s at lunchtime. Connor tidied it up in the second half and won by 13s.
More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net
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