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Circuit of Munster
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Start - Sunday @ 08:25:39

RALLY NEWS NO.1 Woodlands Hotel/Rally HQ/Sunday morning

This weekend’s Circuit of Munster has attracted a top quality entry, with five world rally cars at the front, followed by a strong line-up of GpN machinery, Mk2 Escorts, plus cars of all shapes and sizes from Civics to Citroen C2R2 Max’s. Niall Maguire is running No.1 on road in his Subaru WRC, with Derek McGarrity at 2, Kevin Barrett at 3, Melvyn Evans at 4 and Daragh O’Riordan at 5, all in Subarus. The competition between them should be fierce, and Welshman Melvyn Evans summed it up when he told us before the start, “We’ve made a few changes to the car since the Cavan Rally last week, the pace at the top is mad!” Daragh O’Riordan is treating the rally as a warm up for the Donegal Rally, which is just a few weeks away, and maintains that he is not going for any heroics here. But for the other men at the front, the name of the game is scoring Championship points.

Interestingly No.1 seed Niall Maguire heads the points in both the Dunlop National Championship, as well as the Top Part West Coast Rally series, this Circuit of Munster being a counting round of both competitions.

Sean Flanagan starts at No.7 and his Impreza is the first GpN machine on the road. Kevin Kelleher, who was listed at 6 in his Lancer, is non-starting. Other top GpN entries include Eamonn Daly at No.10 and Ruan’s Anthony O’Halloran at 14. Normal front runner Anthony has had to miss a few rallies this year due to a shoulder injury when he fell of a ladder and this will be his first time competing on a rally for a while, so he reckons he could be a bit rusty. Aidan Bourke is seeded at 17 in his Lancer and he is another GpN entry who could go well.

Mike Quinn heads the Escort contingent, running at no 8. Mike has fitted new 6 pot calipers on the front of his Escort in an effort to stop damage to the brake discs, and has also had the engine fine-tuned. Seeded just behind Mike is Donegal man Declan Boyle in a similar 2.5 litre Escort. These two should be the Mk2 pace-setters, but there is a plethora of CL14 & CL13 Escorts, such as Paul Purtill, Ed Synan and Stuart Darcy who should be right on the pace. Darcy starts with 136 on his Escort but will run inside the top 20. Also moved up the order is Neil Pierce, his Honda carrying No.133 but running 21st on the road.

Two fairly unknown quantities running just outside the top ten include James Murphy in his Escort WRC, and Tadgh Linehan in his Impreza WRC. James, with Anthony Nestor co-driving, would normally contest the forestry rallies, so this all asphalt, very fast rally will be something different for him. Tadgh Linehan, on the other hand, is well used to asphalt rallies in his GpN machine, but he is trying an ex-Eriksson Impreza WRC this time.

Top class 6 contenders are Kilmallock’s Kieran Daly and Limerick’s Mark Sheahan, both in ultra-competitive Citroen C2R2 Max’s. Also in class 6 is the very quick Galway crew David Quigley/Des Sherlock in their Civic. The strong Junior category is headed by Kevin O’Connor/Donal Balfe in their Citroen C2R2 Max. Around 128 cars should start the main rally with 20 Juniors plus 5 Historics. Second seeds in the Juniors are Darren and Nicola McKenna in the Corolla Twin Cam and No.3 seeds are Jonathan and Patrick Cunningham in their Civic. All in all, there’s a very good junior entry. Jane Cogan is co-driving for Aidan Walsh, Jane has stepped in to replace Jim Casey who has been hurt in a skiing accident.

A pleasant interlude to the preparations for the rally was a trip to Athea for the opening of top co-driver Diarmuid Falvey and his partner Kelly’s new pub. The new hostelry is called Brown Joe’s and it is a lovely pub. A brilliant night’s craic!

Darren Gass/Sean Mullally in their Subaru WRC won yesterday Mourne Rally despite last minute double puncture dramas. John McGlaughlin was 2nd, Mark Donnelly 3rd and Stuart Biggerstaff 4th which will bring him into contention for the lead of the NI Championship. Anthony Nestor was co-driving for Stuart and he made the dash here to Adare last night to co-drive for James Murphy today. In the IRC Sardinia Rally Kris Meeke picked too hard a tyre and now lies 2nd two seconds behind Andreccuci.

More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net

2020 Patterson Agencies

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