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Donegal International Rally
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Letterkenny Pre Start - Friday @ 08:57:55
RALLY NEWS NO.1 Letterkenny/Friday morning

As ever in the build up to this Donegal International Rally speculation about who will do what builds up to fever pitch. Naturally much of the anticipation centres on the top seeds. However there is huge interest as well in all the various parts of the rally. From the anticipated battle of the Mk2 Escorts through to the historics, who start on Saturday morning and the Juniors who only compete on the Sunday stages.

Each driver has his or her own attitude to the rally. For example, when we spoke to No.6 seed Donagh Kelly, who will drive the ex factory Focus WRC this weekend, his feeling was. `Really, I am under no pressure. It is a new car to me, and we will take it as it comes. I just want to enjoy it. Of course, when the crash helmet goes on, that could all change:` Donagh`s home place is at Frosses, where he has a small menagerie of dogs, horses and goodness knows what. His personal best dog is an Irish Wolfhound called Elvis – the King. Whoever does win the rally will become the King of Donegal. Could it be Donagh? Last year it was Garry Jennings who was ‘the man’, with his first win. For Garry and his co-driver Neil Doherty it was virtually a life changing weekend, entirely glorious, but poignant as well because Neil`s father was so ill in Letterkenny Hospital. Over the past week or so Garry has been more involved in fuelling the armada of boats on Lough Erne for the G8 summit, than thinking about his Impreza WRC. Now it `s time to switch on to the rally.

Having won the Killarney Lakes in his Subaru, Garry should be on the pace here, although feeling the extra pressure of running No.1. Off course he again has his `secret weapon` in the shape of Rory Kennedy. There is more to the rally than just driving flat out. Strategy, planning and experience all come into play. Kennedy three times a winner here with the late Bertie Fisher, has contested the rally 30 times and has had countless podium places. He has the experience and knowledge to collate all the info, on the weather, the gravel on the stages, the tyre choice, service time, when to go hard, when not to. Rory has all that expertise. It is 30 years since Vincent Bonner won the rally. In a preview on Highland Radio for this Sunday`s Ulster Gaelic semi-final, the point was made that it would be great to see Declan Boyle, who is from much the same locality in West Donegal as Vincent, win the rally. Declan certainly has the speed. Experience is a long road. Derek McGarrity, Darragh O`Riordan, Darren Gass, Seamus Leonard and Sam Moffett all have a chance of the win. We shall see.

Gary Jennings had a slight problem with his Impreza`s front suspension this week, but that is now sorted, and again that is all part of the rallying game. There are eight good drivers in WRC machinery at the top of the entry list and any of them could win. On the subject of that Ulster semi final in Cavan on Sunday, Donegal versus Down. Clerk of the Course Eamonn McGee has 2 sons playing for Donegal, Eamonn Juniors and Neil. No doubt Eamonn will be keeping an eye on the score there as well as directing rally operations.

Indeed in all there are well over 100 cars in the main rally, and the door is open for all to grab a slice of glory in their various categories. The top ten entries as published remains intact, but there are a few non-starters further down. One of them is Fergus O’Meara, who won the National section of the Killarney Lakes, the last round of the Tarmac Championship, in his Escort. The Tralee man was hospitalised last weekend with a viral infection, and although we believe he is out and about again, he will not be doing the rally. We wish him a speedy recovery. Letterkenny Toyota dealer Brendan Kelly is also a non-starter. His hire deal for a rally car fell through. Further non-starters include - Ed O`Callaghan, Chris Armstrong, Steve Wood and Michael McCollum.

More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net *Follow RallyNews on Twitter @Pacenotes or @Real_RallyNews

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