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Sligo Stages Rally 2011
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Sligo - Friday @ 18:55:47
RALLY NEWS NO.1 Sligo Park Hotel/Friday

The ceremonial start in Sligo marks the official beginning of what should be a great motoring event this weekend. This Sligo Stages Rally has attracted some of the best drivers in the country, and over 120 cars are due to tackle the 9 special stages. Top seed Robert Barrable in his well proven little Skoda Super 2000 will set out from the Sligo Park Hotel at 09.05 on Saturday morning.

Clerk of the Course Paul Kiely has designed a challenging route. This will ensure that whoever wins this rally will almost certainly have earned the plaudits. The rally is round 6 of the National Championship. Series leader Tim McNulty is missing this one, but he has such a commanding points lead that he should still hold the advantage heading into round 7 in Galway. However, the Billy Coleman Award winner, Robert Barrable, who has Damien Connolly co-driving as usual, is just a couple of points behind Sam Moffett in the battle for 2nd place in the Championship, so these two have every chance to strengthen their respective positions.

Overall, the competition should be pretty frenetic. Daragh O’Riordan from Midleton in Co. Cork, winner of this year’s Killarney Rally of the Lakes, carries No.3 on his Subaru this time. Former multiple National Champion Niall Maguire plus Kevin Barrett will run at numbers 4 & 5. They are all in World Rally Cars. Derek McGarrity was to be at No.2 but his Circuit of Ireland winning Subaru couldn’t be readied in time for this event following an accident on the Circuit of Munster in the hands of another driver.

Garry Jennings, Colm Murphy and Sam Moffett are the next three in the list behind Kevin Barrett. All three drive conventional GpN cars. Jennings and Murphy have well proven pedigrees. Jennings is from Kesh and is a former Peugeot Champion, while Limerick’s Murphy was a GpN Tarmac Champion; Moffett is an up and coming young driver. Tyrone’s John Cairns who is driving a GpA Subaru and Donegal’s Trevor Bustard (Lancer N), make up the top ten. Trevor has John McCafferty co-driving this time.

Lots of action is expected as well from the Mk2 Escort men – Wesley Patterson, Damien Gallagher, Frank Kelly, Sam Smyth, Mickey Conlon, John McQuaid and John McGettrick being some of the top names. Variety will be provided also by the Darrian of Welshman Washington James and the MG Super 2000 of Roy White. The latter has been out of rallying for a while. Now he has a 2.4 litre Ford derived Cosworth Duratec engine in his nimble four-wheel drive car. Clonmel man Roy got the MG going again for the recent Ravens Rock Rally. Despite minor problems everything performed reasonably well. If he can iron out the few small gremlins, former Tarmac GpN Champion Roy could go really well here.

Last minute entries have come in from several top drivers. They have been given tail end numbers but will start near the front. Just some of the last minute ‘names’ include West Cork’s Liam McCarthy. He will drive a McGeehan Motorsport Corolla World Car, and is currently 4th in the National series points. Others include quick Escort exponents Gerard McQuaid, Barry McKenna and Brian Brogan. At 129 is Niall Maguire’s son Shane. He is the current Top Part South West Rally Champion and drives his usual GpN Subaru here.

Top seeded local drivers in the rally are John McGettrick (Escort No.20) and the evergreen Dominic McLoughlin (Peugeot No.21). McGettrick comes from Bunninadden in Co. Sligo, which means bottom of the stream. Dominic McLoughlin has his 17-year-old nephew Brian McLoughlin co-driving. Brian has driven on a couple of the Aghadowey events, but this is his maiden ‘proper’ rally. More news after SS1: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net

2020 Patterson Agencies

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