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West Cork Rally
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Clonakilty - Friday @ 18:52:22

RALLY NEWS NO.1 Quality Hotel Clonakilty/Friday evening

This weekend’s West Cork Rally, which started in 1977 with Billy Coleman winning in his Escort, marks the beginning of an important new phase as it moves into full Tarmac Championship status. Who knows what the next 38 years will bring for the rally? For now it is good news indeed that the event has expanded its status so significantly.

Donegal crew Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan in their Focus WRC, last year`s West Cork winners and current leaders of the Clonakilty Black Pudding Tarmac Championship have the honour of leading away the capacity entry to contest this year`s 14 classic stages.

It is fitting that when Donagh Kelly`s Focus WRC crosses the Ceremonial Start ramp tonight that it will be only yards from Twomey`s butchers shop where the Clonakilty Black Pudding was originally created. Mrs Colette Twomey has been one of the driving forces behind bringing the Championship here to Clonakilty.

Current Tarmac Champions Declan and Brian Boyle in their Subaru WRC are seeded right behind Donagh. The opening pace will surely be frenetic. Donagh Kelly has had his Ford well checked over, had a test yesterday when all went well, and has an M-Sport engineer on hand to give the on-board computer the final tweak. Declan Boyle`s Subaru has had a rebuilt engine fitted, and although the very wet weather yesterday curtailed his test session, nothing has been left to chance.

These two won`t have it all their own way of course. Daragh O`Riordan has had a small break from rallying, and the Scariff Plant Hire man is looking forward to getting out on the stages again. His Fiesta WRC is in top shape. Monaghan brothers Sam and Josh Moffett are also in Fiesta WRC`s and they should be in the thick of the action. Melvyn Evans, who has won here in an Escort WRC as well as in a Subaru, will be hoping for a good clean start – better than last year anyway when he was sidelined on the very first stage when his Impreza broke it`s gearbox. Melvyn freely admitted that he is not match fit at this level and it could be lunch time tomorrow before he really gets on the pace. Melvyn reckons it may not be such a bad thing as the rally gets really tough on Sunday. Cork man Owen Murphy makes up the top half dozen seeds, Forestry Champion Owen will drive his Lancer Evo9.

Behind Owen, at 7 & 8, are two very interesting ‘R5’ entries – Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick in the new Citroen DS3R5 and Stephen Wright in his recently acquired Fiesta R5. In theory an R5 car might perhaps be outgunned by the WRC machinery - but if all goes well for them, both Greer and Wright should be there or thereabouts at the end of this demanding rally.

Current Tarmac ‘Modified’ National Champion Declan Gallagher in his Starlet RWD completes the top ten. He should be the benchmark for the many top Escort Mk2 men. These include Phil Collins, Adrian Hetherington and Wesley Patterson. Such is the strength of the entry that cars seeded in the thirties, forties and fifties could well make an impression on the leaderboard before the Sunday afternoon finish.

There are 151 cars on the main rally entry list. When the Historics and Juniors are included that number goes up to over 200. So far there are only 2 non-starters from the top 30 - Car 24, Eugene Meegan and car 28 John Hendy. Former Historic Champion James O`Mahony heads the Historic entry list in his Volvo, with Rob Smith (Escort) at No.2 and current Historic Champion Denis Moynihan at 3 in his Mk1 Escort. The Historics start the rally at stage 5 on Saturday.

Finally for now, the indomitable Dougie Hughes, the voice of Irish Motorsport, will be compering at the ramp as usual and we will all be celebrating his 82nd birthday tomorrow!

More news tomorrow. BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net *Follow RallyNews on Twitter and Facebook @Pacenotes or @Real_RallyNews


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