Willie Loughman Memorial Rally – Sample Video

The sunny southeast stood up to its name this week when we made the Patterson Pacenotes for the forthcoming Willie Loughman Memorial Rally. Despite the dreadful snow that was bringing the north of the country to a standstill, the Waterford based stages have escaped the bad weather and we had a very nice day in which to get our recce done. Some light snow showers came and went during the day but they were only passing through.

COC Andrew Purcell has really put a superhuman effort into his route. New stages are hard to find but the former national champion co-driver has done just that. Without divulging too much information, we thought the new stages are great. We will give a more in-depth assessment next week in Irish Notes but for now we have put together a small sample video for your enjoyment. Watch in 480p for the best results.


Triton Showers Easter Stages – Cancelled

The management of the Easter Stages Rally, due to take place this weekend across Counties Down and Antrim, have been forced to cancel the event. The decision has been made in light of the hardship being faced by residents in the area, and the heavy snow.

The rally was to use a number of roads in the Dromara Hills, around Slieve Croob, which are buried under snowdrifts of up to 12 feet. Clearing efforts are expected to make some progress by the weekend, but the forecast of continued low temperatures – in the midst of the ongoing difficulties being experienced by residents and farmers of the area – have caused organisers to take the decision.

Bobby Willis, spokesman for the event, said: “People in the area, particularly farmers, are facing critical issues at the moment, including the loss and death of livestock. Therefore, the management team has decided unanimously that it is inappropriate for the rally to continue.

“As well as conveying sensitivity to people in the area at this time of hardship, our fear is also that the road closures that are necessary for the rally to run, may further hamper what has become crucial access in the area. The rally could also put additional pressure on emergency services, which are already stretched.”

He added: “We are currently exploring alternatives to run the rally at a later date but, whilst we have had a huge setback, our sights are now firmly set on the Circuit of Ireland 2014 and returning the European Rally Championship to Northern Ireland.”

The one-day Triton Easter Stages Rally was set to replace the Circuit of Ireland Rally in 2013, which was postponed due to insufficient funding.  The event was scheduled to start this Saturday in Lisburn and finish in Ballynahinch on Saturday evening.

A huge number of entries have been received for the event, which was to feature as Round 2 of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship and Round 3 of the Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship.

“We are all disappointed and for sure the competitors will be too,” said Bobby, “but we must remember that this is a sport, and right now there are more pressing issues in the area. The farmers and residents are having a terrible time and we should definitely be thinking of them.


“We would like to thank everyone who has assisted and supported the rally to date. Over the next week we will have a clearer vision of where we go from here and we will let everyone know.”

Minister for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster, was due to attend a press event at the Millbrook Lodge, Ballynahinch, on Thursday 28th March for the unveiling of the studio from which the rally’s innovative internet channel, Circuitofireland.tv, was to broadcast. This has also been cancelled.

All rally competitors, staff, marshals, sponsors, and event partners are now being contacted, and a full announcement of our future plans will be made in due course.

For updates, please see www.easterstages.net, www.facebook.com/easterstages, and Twitter @EasterStages

Circuit/Easter Stages Sunday Recce Scrapped. Adverse Weather.

The Easter Stages has taken the decision to abandon their first Recce period for the Easter Stages. Weather condition s in Co Down have failed to improve and most of the stages remain close to impassable. They have released a comprehensive final instruction that includes the revised recce details and signing on arrangements. Below are the first couple of paragraphs from the instruction.

Due to the exceptional snowfall some stages are impassable.
The PSNI has advised that all non essential travel should be avoided, with this in mind we have taken the decision to postpone reconnaissance sign on tomorrow (Sunday 24th) in Ballynahinch.
To Organisers have decided to allow reconnaissance to also take place on any day from Tuesday 25th March between the hours of 09.00 and 18.00hrs. The Reconnaissance Regulations apply and officials will be on the stages during these times.
To assist competitors we are offering reconnaissance sign on and administration checks in The Island Centre, Lisburn on Monday 25th March between 19.30 and 21.00hrs.
Roadbooks can also be collected, by prior arrangement, from Patterson Agency, Unit 1F, McKinney Road, Mallusk, BT36 4PE, Telephone 0044 (0)28 9084 4111.
We can also courier Road Books to you, at a cost of £10, please telephone 0044 (0)28 9080 8808 to arrange this.
We are doing everything we can and we would ask that you check our website www.easterstages.net
A full copy of the FI is available from this link.

CircuitofIreland.tv – Groundbreaking internet TV channel launched.

Minister Stephen Farry joined film students at South Eastern Regional College’s Ballynahinch campus on Thursday to celebrate the launch of the groundbreaking internet television channel Circuitofireland.tv.

The project is the brainchild of Bobby Willis (director of Circuit of Ireland), with the help of Tyndall Productions, and the students of NI Film School who’ve played a pivotal role in the development of the innovative channel. It will stream live footage and programming from the Easter Stages Rally in real time, across the world, on Saturday 30th March.

The concept is a significant development for motorsport and will enable unrestricted opportunities to watch the live rally action as it unfolds, while projecting images of Northern Ireland’s stunning countryside all around the globe.

The channel will be aired for 12 hours from 9am until 9pm on www.circuitofireland.tv from a purpose-built, industry-standard studio at the Millbrook Lodge Hotel in Ballynahinch. Well known RPM broadcasters Alan Tyndall and Pamela Ballantine will anchor the programme.

Programming will include live-streamed footage from the rally stages including ‘on location’ reportage from the start in Lisburn, and the finish in Ballynahinch; capturing and transmitting all the energy of the event.

An additional six cameras will be located within one of the stages, providing almost one mile of live coverage from a specially selected stretch of road. Viewers will be in for a real treat with the opportunity to see competitors tackle four massive jumps, a tight hairpin, as well as a mixture of other challenges; all set against Northern Ireland’s lush and dramatic landscape.

Rally result updates will also be broadcast every 30 minutes on the channel and it will include interviews and other rally features.

The Easter Stages Rally replaces the Circuit of Ireland International Rally, which was postponed for 2013.

Easter Stages Links: 



Twitter: @easterstages

McGeehan late entry for Circuit/Easter Stages

The ever-expanding entry list of the Circuit/Easter Stages is filling up even more after Derek McGeehan confirmed that the rally organisers have accepted a late entry from him. On this occasion the Draperstown based McGeehan Motorsport team have entered one of their Mini WRC cars, as opposed to the Toyota Corolla the McGeehan used recently. It has not gone unnoticed over the last couple of seasons that McGeehan has become a serious contender for the NI Championship.

The addition of the Mini WRC is the cream on an already great entry. A few months ago the event looked perilous. Sterling work from Bobby Willis and his team has ensured that the Easter Stages goes ahead. This morning at a press conference in Ballynahinch, the rally announced a ground breaking new Internet based tv concept – circuitofireland.tv of which we will try and bring you more of in the next couple of days. In short, it really is shaping up.

Rally North Wales (aka The Bulldog)…The Notes.

The BRC is looming, at last. It seems like an age since Rally Yorkshire (Trackrod) but things are happening and a good indicator is when we have got the Patterson Pacenotes made. The entries seem to be flooding in and Richard Hinton has been doing a sterling job of keeping us all up to date with regular Twitter and Facebook updates.

We did our reconnaissance yesterday (Tuesday 20th) and at first it looked like the weather could have been against us. Heavy snow was disrupting a lot of the country and there were signs that the forests could be affected. In the end, there was only a small amount of snow on the high ground in Dyfnant.

It was as expected, a pleasure to get back into the classic stages used by the Bulldog. Despite a more compact route this year, it is still using some of the best roads in the area and the stages are in superb condition. A small amount of logging is going on in Dyfi, but by coincidence, we met some Forestry people who were there to assess what repairs were needed before the rally came. Overall the roads are in great shape and should prove hugely challenging but equally very enjoyable for both competitors and spectators.

With the Easter Holidays falling the weekend before the rally, we have tried to get the notes made a couple of days earlier than normal so that they can be posted out a little earlier. We are making every effort to get started as soon as we can.

As is normal, our on-line ordering facility is running as usual and Rally North Wales Notes and DVD can be ordered here


Snow today Higgins Rally School - Thurs 21st March.

Snow today Higgins Rally School – Thurs 21st March.

West Cork Rally – Day one – Some images

Martin Walsh – A local man who is also the MI press guy for the Dunlop National Championship. You cant blame him for being proud of his local event, and he has given us a couple of nice shots from today’s rally. We just love it and are pleased to share Martin’s images here.

Owanahicha. Another powerful view on the West Cork coastline. Pic credit. Martin Walsh: local rally guru and photographer.

Owanahicha. Another powerful view on the West Cork coastline. Pic credit. Martin Walsh: local rally guru and photographer.

Fiesta WRC. Irish debut on the West Cork Rally 2013. Photo courtesy of:  Martin Walsh: West Cork based rally guru, journalist  and photographer.

Fiesta WRC. Irish debut on the West Cork Rally 2013. Photo courtesy of: Martin Walsh: West Cork based rally guru, journalist and photographer.

Brian O'Mahony West Cork 2013. The new McKinstry stabled S14.

Brian O’Mahony West Cork 2013. The new McKinstry stabled S14.

Inchydoney Beach – West Cork Rally

With the late start to the rally today, Brian and Liz have had a rare chance to take in some of the stunning scenery close to the rally base at Clonakilty. It’s not all about the rally cars! St Patricks weekend in West Cork at Inchydoney Island Beach. Stunning!

Inchydoney island. Sat 16th March 2013. West Cork Rally pre-start. The little people put things into perspective. Nice view!

Inchydoney island. Sat 16th March 2013. West Cork Rally pre-start. The little people put things into perspective. Nice view!

Grainger Wins Erne Safari after 40 Years!

McAleer’s Spar Erne Safari Navigation Rally

Some forty years ago, in 1973, Fermanagh rally driver, Benny Grainger competed on his first rally, The Erne Safari Navigation Rally. Last Friday,exactly forty years later, Benny with navigator, David Howard won The McAleer’s Spar Erne Navigation Rally!

The ‘Safari’, sponsored again by McAleer’s Spar in Irvinestown, counts as Enniskillen Motor Club’s [EMC] round of The McGrady Insurance N Ireland Navigation Championship. EMC has now been running this event for nearly fifty years. This was just the second round of the championship as the first round back in January, scheduled to have taken place near Rathfriland was postponed due to heavy snow. Thus, the first round became QUB’s ‘Jumping Jack Rally’ which was won by Omagh crew, Leslie Young and Lewis Boyd in their Vauxhall Vectra.

Sixteen rally crews left the Start Control at McAleer’s Spar last Friday night to battle it out in ideal, dry but cold conditions over some of the remotest and twistiest roads that rural Fermanagh has to offer. Class 1 [Expert] and Class 2 [Semi-expert] crews did battle over a total of seventy miles whilst Classes 3 [Novice] and 4 [Beginner] were taxed with fifty-five miles on Sheet 18 of the Discoverer Series map [ courtesy of The Ordnance Survey]. Clerk of the Course [CofC] Drew Wilson used all of his varied motorsport experience to set a route which managed to test the whole range of competitor experience entered on the night.

Before the event Wilson commented, ‘Experienced navigation crews like Lewis Boyd and Leslie Young will be expecting to be challenged, they won last time out on QUB’s Jumping Jack Rally and are seeded number one tonight and the rest of Class 1 will be thinking likewise. So that’s what they will get, a real challenge. At the other end of the spectrum we have a solid entry of six crews in Class 4, the Beginner Class, all of whom attended our recent Night Navigation Rally School, so I have put in place separate route instructions to suit their experience also’.

Though Young/Boyd did indeed start at No 1, this was not be their night. Right from the off the very experienced crew of John Henderson and Lloyd Cochrane were the only pair penalty-free at Time Control D [TC D]. It was exciting stuff with Woods and Ragg [Ford Focus] hot on their heels just one mark down, with Young/Boyd a mere mark behind that and Grainger/Howard only six more in arrears. But there was a long way to go.

At this juncture the Class 2 crew of Barker/Deazley [Peugeot 206] had opened a lead of some nine marks over the Nova duo of Carey/Muldoon. In the Novice Class, Gilpin/Morton in their Fiesta had steered their way into a commanding lead some sixteen marks ahead of nearest rivals, the Omagh-based father and son pairing of James and John McCay in a Peugeot 106. Number one seeds in Class 3, Stuart and Gavin Campbell [Mazda MX-5] had made an uncharacteristic ’30’ [30 minutes penalty] error, being caught out at Secret Check 3 [SC 3]. The final Class 3 pair, Charlie Dunleavy and Roy Lindsay, from Florencecourt, were struggling in their Honda CRV at this point and never really got into a rhythm all night having amassed a total of one hundred and thirty marks at this early stage of the rally.

Class 4 leaders at this early stage were Coa man Mervyn Wilson partnered by Michael McGowan from Lisbellaw. This was despite the drama of having to change vehicle just before the start as the distributer broke on Mervyn’s beautifully restored MkII Escort 1600 Sport. A hasty replacement for the ‘never-say-die’ crew, a Nissan Navara was duly ‘commandeered’ and they duly became early pace-setters. But close to their exhaust pipes was the Peugeot 406 crew of Mark McCaffrey and Marcus Carson,from Lisbellaw and Letterbreen respectively, just three marks adrift. But the sensation of the rally, father and son team of Eddie and Ronan McCaffrey from Killadeas, on their very first rally, were in third place in Dad’s Saab 95 Estate at the same TC D, albeit sixteen marks further back. This was a terrific pace, considering Ronan at only fourteen years old was also the youngest competitor in the rally! Meanwhile, Scott Thompson from Irvinestown with Darran Flanagan, Killeadeas, on the maps in Scott’s Peeugeot 205, had been caught out by SC 1 and collected a ’30’, dropping them to fourth on Class at this point. Back in fifth, and staying warm despite having the roof down on their Mazda MX-5 were Johnny and Conor Kennedy whilst also on their first Navigation Rally were sixth in Class 4 the Belnaleck-based pairing of Kieran Murphy and Mary Winchester, rallying in style in the big Audi A6.

But things had changed somewhat by the time the Rally had reached the TC K, the finish for Classes 3 and 4. As part of an Association of N Ireland car Club’s [ANICC] initiative to encourage newcomers into the sport, EMC had provided Classes 3 and 4 with a shorter route, fifty -five miles compared to seventy for Classes1 and 2. The Motor club has also given Classes 3 & 4 a simpler form of route instructions for the same reason with Class 4 provided with ‘a Panic Envelope’ to assist them in completing the route. Drew Wilson’s recent very successful Night Navigation Rally School sessions being part of the same initiative. Encouraging for the future of Navigation Rallying here in Fermanagh was that all of Class 4 had attended those sessions and at the end of the night promised to be back for more. So, by TC K Class 3 winners were Gavin and Stuart Campbell by a decisive margin on forty seven marks whilst next up were Gilpin/Morton on one hundred and forty two marks.The McCays managed to accumulate three hundred and ninety marks, with John admitting he had had better nights and was caught out by ‘some silly errors’ over the last section. At this point Dunleavy/Lindsay did finish fourth but also, like McCay, a long way off the pace.

Meanwhile the team of McCaffrey/Carson kept their initial winning form right through the Rally to end up with a winning score of fifty six marks. They had a great run over the last section, which troubled a lot of other crews, dropping only five marks over the last ten miles, leaving Wilson/McGowan well back in second, some eighty six marks behind. The Nissan crew, confessing to be ‘a little rusty’ and to having made a few simple errors on the last section spoiling a great run due to not having been out for over two years on a Navigation Rally, promised to return in Mervyn’s MkII Escort. But what a terrific result for young Ronan McCaffrey! Ronan, partnering his Dad, Eddie to a magnificent Third in Class 4, on this their first ever Rally, received well-deserved praise from CofC Drew Wilson. ‘They have set themselves a very high standard indeed to maintain. We really look forward to seeing them out on their next event.’

And yes, the open-topped MX-5 did make it to the finish. The hot grub in Mahon’s Hotel was very welcome indeed after two and a half hours in the dark from near Brougher Mountain to Imeroo and north of Trillick returning via Drumharvey for the frozen Mazda crew of Johnny and Conor Kennedy.

The big Audi A6 proved to be a handful on the narrow twisty roads for the crew of Murphy and Winchester and they called it a night after TC H, promising to return and ‘fight another day.’

Class 2 winners on the night were Carey /Muldoon securing a very emphatic 1st in Class on 63 marks over the longer distance with Barker/Deazley well down on 127 marks after some simple mistakes such as, dropping a ’30’ into TC I plus two more into the final Control and slowed due to a leaking sump for which Barker accepted all the blame.

But the night belonged to the veterans. Enniskillen man, Benny Grainger partnered , for the first time, with David Howard and driving David’s Astra, claimed first in Class 1 and First Overall, exactly forty years after his first attempt on his first Rally! A delighted Benny said that,’it was simply great to win The Erne Safari Rally this year, exactly forty years after my first effort.’ Woos and Ragg claimed second in Class 1 only six marks in arrears, ‘keeping Grainger/Howard honest’ right till the end. Third Overall and third in Class were Henderson/Cochrane with winners last time out, Young/Boyd, having to settle for fourth, such is Rallying. More details of these results and news of the next EMC event, The McAleer’s May Day Stages Rally at St Angelo on Monday 6th May, are available on the Motor Club website: www.enniskillenmotorclub.co.uk.

At the prize-giving Drew Wilson [CofC] thanked sponsor Fabian McAleer for his long -time and welcome support and also Mahon’s Hotel for their welcome late-night hot grub. He went on to thank his organising team and all those who helped out on the night. Wilson went on to thank the people of rural Fermanagh, east and south-east of Irvinestown and both north and south of Kilskeery and Trillick for their invaluable cooperation. He ended by hoping that neighbours Omagh would have as successful a Night Navigation Rally School as had EMC and that our Class 4 crews would get out on both the Cookstown and Omagh-based rounds before the summer break. He also wished Omagh man Lewis Boyd every success as upcoming CofC for the Ulster Tarmac Rally in August.

The next rounds of the McGrady Insurance N Ireland Navigation Rally Championship will be Cookstown on Friday 22 March; see www.cookstownmotorclub.com for details of entry and regulations and the Omagh’s ‘Boneshaker Rally’ on Fri 12 April; see omaghmotorclub.com or www.anicc.org.uk for further details. Full results are available @ rallyscore.net

Contributed by Gerry Cavanagh, Enniskillen Motor Club.

West Cork – Google Earth Views.

West Cork Rally 2013.

This weekend we have listed our Google Earth Files from the West Cork Rally. Hopefully it gives some of our more distant viewers a more complete picture of the event’s route. This information is provided for viewing only and does not represent any official involvement from the rally. We hope you enjoy.

Please note that the Google Earth files are contained in a zip file. If you are using a computer, they will be downloaded to your downloads folder and can then be opened with google Earth. For mobile/iphone/ipad users – you will be asked to “open in” an app like iFiles or Evernote etc. You must do this and then unzip the files. After this the files can be opened in Google Earth. It seems a long way around but it is worth it. It is assumed that you have installed both a file viewer & Google Earth beforehand. If not they are all available via the App Store and the Android Play Store.

Click on this link to download the files