Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Ford Fiesta WRC) on their way to victory in the Admore Air Conditioning Corp Midland Moto Rally, the second round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship. Photo: Martin Walsh.
et out from Longford on last Sunday’s Midland Moto Stages Rally, with Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes in their Fiesta WRC the cream of the pack throughout the day. Josh’s winning margin from Roy White/James O’Brien, also in a Fiesta WRC, was over a minute. Moffett has won the Tarmac Rally Championship, and also the Valvoline Forestry series, and he wants now to emulate his brother Sam by also taking the Triton Showers National Championship. Josh narrowly missed out on his goal last season, having to give best to Declan Boyle in the final title race. Indeed it is Boyle of all the other top drivers who is giving Josh a hard time this season. However Josh had the upper hand on the first round this season, and he just had the edge on this one as well before Boyle’s Fiesta WRC came to a sudden stop because of a broken wheel. The icing on the cake for Moffett was a fastest time on the 9th and final stage of the day which netted him a bonus Championship point.
At the finish of the Longford based Admore Air Conditioning Corp Midland Moto Rally, the second round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship were (left to right): Declan Tumilty (TSNRC Chairperson), Orlagh Reynolds, Longford Arms Hotel, Andy Hayes (winning co-driver), Josh Moffett (winning driver), Jeremy O’Connor, Clerk of the Course and Laura McMenamin (TSNRC Registrar). Photo: Martin Walsh.
Previous National Champion Roy White reported no real problems on his way to his second place. Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly in their Fiesta WRC finished 3rd, having been well down the leaderboard early in the day, mostly because of a dubious tyre choice. James Stafford/Jeff Case had a great run in their Darrian, holding 3rd o/a for much of the day, but eventually had to give best to Hurson.
The Darrian driver still finished 4th o/a and best two wheel drive. Joe McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney were 5th in their Mini WRC, possibly slightly slowed by head gasket worries, while Darren Gass, co-driven by Enda Sherry, did well to acclimatise to his recently acquired Skoda R5 to take 6th. Niall Devine/Liam McIntyre in their Mitsubishi won GpN, while David Kelly/Kenny Bustard in their Starlet took the Junior category.
Further afield Craig Breen/Paul Nagle, driving a Skoda R5, managed 4th o/a on the rather specialised Italian asphalt Rally Il Ciocco Valle del Serchio. Giandomenico Basso/L Grania, also in a Fabia R5, won the event. On the European Championship Azores Rally, another very specialised event, Chris Ingram/Ross Whittock did very well to haul themselves up to 3rd o/a, driving a Skoda R5. The rally was won by Tukasz Habaj in yet another Skoda, while No.1 seed and current European Champion Alexey Lukyanuk crashed his Santeloc Citroen C3 R5 out following a puncture which led, unknown to the driver, to a damaged brake pipe. Lukyanuk was completely caught out when the brake pedal went to the floor and he comprehensively rolled the Citroen. Chris Ingram’s big rally ambition at the moment is to win the European Rally Championship, a feat last achieved by a British driver, Vic Elford, just over 50 years ago.
Rally Epernay Vins de Champagne Daniel Barry, co-driven by Gary McElhinney
Over in France, on the Rally Epernay Vins de Champagne Daniel Barry, co-driven by Gary McElhinney in his Citroen DS3 R5, was lying a brilliant 5th until his Citroen was halted after half a dozen stages.
Niel Simpson-Michael Gibson – Legend Fires North West Stages 2019 – Photo by @KuceraPhotography
Reportedly Danny and Gary had a ball while it lasted! Closer to home, well, just across the Irish Sea, Neil Simpson and his co-driver Michael Gibson finished joint 2nd with Alex Laffey/Stuart Loudon on the Legend Fires North West Stages Rally. The winner was Peter Taylor/Andrew Roughead in a Fiesta R5. The rally, based near Blackpool, employed several closed road stages, a first for the Blackburn Club. Simpson was driving a Skoda R5 and Laffey a Fiesta R5. This was a return to rallying for the popular Mike Gibson, having been sidelined for quite a few years, and he reported that the rally went well, as did they!
The MG Car Club (Ulster Centre) hosted a round of the NI Autotest Championship on Saturday at the Transport Training Services facility near Crumlin. In fine dry conditions Ashley Lamont was fastest overall, but of course there are different car divisions and Steven Ferguson, Sam Bowden and David Thompson all won their categories, while Jack Gillis won the Autotest Clubman Challenge and Michael Workman the ‘Advanced Challenge’
This coming weekend the World Rally Championship will be back in action with Corsica Rally, while several of our home drivers will face action through the Welsh forests on the Rally North Wales. On the ‘Tour de Corse’ Sebastien Ogier is the No.1 seed in his factory Citroen, backed by his team mate Esapekka Lappi. Sebastien Loeb is back in action for the Hyundai team, along with Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo. M-Sport Ford is represented by Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen. Finally, in the 10 World Rally Car line up we have Meeke, Tanak and Latvala for Toyota. After that top 10 there is a horde of R5 cars with interesting and talented drivers including Rhys Yates in his Fabia.
On the Rally North Wales the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Car Club has organised eight forest stages mostly in the Dyfi and Gartheinog forest complexes, much of it Wales Rally GB territory. The rally is divided into several sections and caters largely for historic cars. Making the trip from here are Marty McCormack, Stanley Orr and Adrian Hetherington, all to drive various types of Escorts.
Further news this week includes: Clive Kilpatrick/Jay Colville have acquired an ex Jan Kopecki Skoda 2000 and plan to tackle the forthcoming Maiden City Stages as a shakedown. The Maiden City recce is this coming weekend, and the rally covers some Sperrins territory, leaning towards Rousky and is the next round of the McGrady NI Rally Championship. Also on the same weekend (6th/7th April) is the Circuit of Kerry, which also encompasses some classic rally roads. We will have more information on both next week.
Despite the weather’s ups and downs, last weekend’s West Cork Rally was an ultra-successful, massive event, under the guiding hand of Greg McCarthy along with his Cork Motor Club team plus volunteers from many other clubs. Waterford’s Craig Breen and his co-driver Paul Nagle displayed all their World Rally Championship experience by clinching victory in their Ford Fiesta R5. Indeed Fords seemed to be the chariot of choice for many of the top drivers. Alastair Fisher/Gordon Noble guided their example to a sound second. It has to be remembered that Alastair spends his working week designing the steelwork for skyscrapers and the like. He tracked Craig very closely through the fifteen stages, pulling a second or a fraction of a second back on some stages, but Craig always had an answer and the gap remained at over 20 seconds for much of the two days until the finish flag dropped in Clonakilty’s main street. Josh Moffett did lead after the first stage, but he dropped down the leaderboard, his cause not helped by a damaged shaft on his Fiesta, finally finishing 7th. Breen’s West Cork victory, on top of his Galway win, puts him in a very strong position regarding the Irish Tarmac Championship. However his main aim, hope, aspiration, is to regain a seat on the World Rally Championship.
Craig Breen and Paul Nagle in action on the West Cork Rally 2019
It was definitely a tough rally, and such was the flat out pace of the leaders that the slightest slip amongst many of the other top drivers meant that it was more or less impossible to get back into the frame. Many of the well-known ‘names’ suffered early delays or were relegated to ‘Rally 2’. Some simply retired from the event. Those affected included No.1 seed and five times West Cork winner, Donagh Kelly, as well as Desi Henry. Manus Kelly and Meiron Evans went into ‘Rally 2’ following problems. David Bogie and Declan Boyle ran outside the top ten for most of the rally following their early mishaps, and despite setting good times didn’t progress into the top ten. Such was the pace at the front.
There was a terrific battle for 3rd overall between Tom Cave and Matt Edwards. The bonus for these two was a bagful of points for the British Championship, of which West Cork was, for the first time, a counting round. Edwards seemed to have the upper hand, but Cave in his Hyundai i20 R5 used every inch of the road towards the end to just edge in front and take third o/a, British Champion Edwards 4th. Current British Rally Champion Edwards still leads the points following his first round (Cambrian) win, where Cave was unfortunate not to get his Hyundai from the final stage to the finish because of flat tyres. Marty McCormack finished 9th in West Cork and lies 2nd in the British series.
Tom Cave & James Morgan
Sam Moffett took 5th o/a in West Cork following a steady run and Callum Devine, on his first R5 outing since last year, was a meritorious 6th. Willie Mavitty (Lancer) won GpN. Josh McErlean in his Peugeot 208 won the R2 category. Jordan Hone was in the R2 hunt but retired his Adam just before the finish. James Williams (Adam) was 2nd in the category and William Creighton (Peugeot) 3rd. Mikko Hirvonen in his Mk2 Escort won the National part of the rally and said he enjoyed the rally immensely. On the Sunday night at the Clonakilty Park Hotel Finnish driver Mikko opined that he will be back in West Cork next year! Hard luck story of the rally has to belong to Gary Kiernan who retired his Escort just two stages from the end because of a mechanical fault, having led Hirvonen all the way up to that point. Damien Toner fought back from an early overshoot in his Escort to finish 2nd in the National, which earned him the category lead in the Tarmac Championship. Frank Kelly put his Escort off on the difficult opening Sunday stage, appearing to get caught out over bumps and mud. Neil Williams/Anthony O’Sullivan in their Escort won the Historic category of the rally, from Luke McCarthy/David Hogan. Luke has changed from his Porsche to a Mk2 Escort. Ray Cunningham/Jared Gill had another brilliant run in their Mini to take 3rd in the Historics and now lead the category in the Tarmac. Peter Falvey/Andrew Cronin (Starlet) won the Junior category.
Also last weekend, in the Middle East, on the Qatar Rally, Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, driving the new VW Polo GTI R5 took a substantial win, his 14th time of winning his home event! Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari had Fermanagh’s Marshall Clarke co-driving in a Skoda R5 and took 2nd. Euan Thorburn in his Fiesta R5 won the Scottish Championship counter, the Border Counties. On the American Championship 100 Acre Wood Rally Barry McKenna/Leon Jordan in their Fiesta took victory, with teenage Norwegian Oscar Solberg and co-driver, Tyrone’s Aaron Johnston, 2nd (Subaru). David Higgins/Craig Drew were 3rd in the other works Subaru.
This weekend coming the Triton Showers Championship cascades back into action with the 2nd round Midland Moto Stages. (Sunday 24th March). Clerk of the Course Jeremy O’Connor has put together three fast enjoyable stages, each run three times. The event is based in the Longford Arms Hotel and besides being a counter in the Triton Showers series, is also part of the Border Championship, the Midlands East series and the MI Junior Rally series. Just some of the top seeds include Josh Moffett, Declan Boyle, Peadar Hurson and Roy White, all in Fiesta WRCs. Joe McGonigle will again be in a Mini WRC, while Niall Maguire and Garry Jennings will be in their usual Impreza WRCs Top two wheel drive exponents include Chris Armstrong, Gary Kiernan, Gary McPhillips and Stuart Darcy, all in Escorts. James Stafford in his Darrian could give the Escort men something to thinks about on these fast stages.
The MG Car Club is hosting a round of the NI Autotest Championship this Saturday (23rd March) at the Dundrod Transport Training facility. On a different subject, one of the biggest events for MG clubs from all over Europe and even further afield is the traditional “MG Live” at Silverstone in early June. Thousands of MG owners, mostly with their cars, normally attend, but suddenly this year’s event has been cancelled because the Silverstone Circuit will be closed for a resurfacing job. Still on the subject of MGs, we thought it was rather neat that a line-up of MGAs from the Australian MG clubs ferried the F1 drivers on the parade lap!!
News this week includes the Valvoline Forestry Championship issuing their points following the snow inflicted Limerick Rally, so Michael Carbin and Keith Power are joint leaders on 28 points, Peter McCullagh is 3rd on 26, then it is first round winner Marty McCormack on 22, followed by Niall Henry 21 and Mk2 Escort man Mickey Conlon 20. The next round is the 13th April Moonraker. The class based Suirway Group South East Stages Championship points have also been issued and show Mickey Conlon leading on 39 points, Mike Garahy was 2nd on 37; Casey Jay Coleman has 33, as has James Dunphy.
It is all stations go for the Maiden City Motor Club with its new stages rally on the 6th April. The event is the next round of the McGrady Insurance NI Championship. The format is two closed road stages (repeated) outside Donemana. Entries close this Friday 22nd March. The event is sponsored by Eakin Brothers Brian James Trailers. Also that weekend (7th April) is the Tralee based Circuit of Kerry Rally. HQ for the event is the Rose Hotel and there will be 3 stages repeated 3 times.
Below is a short sample video along with our usual stage data samples for the Rally North Wales 2019. We have completed our pre event recce. Terrible weather!!! but there is not much can be done about that. What can we say about the rally – Great route – Great Stages – A different approach to these Welsh Classic roads.
RNW 2019 DV Sample 1080
Rally North Wales 2019 – Stage Data.
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Following the snow and disruption on the Limerick Forestry event, it is certainly remarkable that the Clerk of the Course Anthony Nestor has been able to sort out a set of results and they were made final last Friday evening. This confirms that Keith Power/Mark O’Sullivan (Lancer) were the winners, by 9 seconds from Michael Carbin/Conor Mohan, also in a Lancer. Third overall and best 2 wheel drive was Mickey Conlon/Ciaran McPhillips in Mickey’s Escort. As regards the Valvoline Forestry points following this 2nd round, there does not seem to be an allocation just yet. Marty McCormack did lead the points starting Limerick, but he was one of the many who stuck his car in a snowy ditch.
Marty McKenna/Martin Brady – M Wilson Rally 2019
Snow also played its part on the BTRDA Malcolm Wilson Rally last weekend. Connor McCloskey led after the opening stage, but then snow played havoc for many of the crews and Connor slid down the order and into retirement. Eventually Euan Thorburn took victory. Marty McKenna drove a very controlled rally on his first visit to the Lake District and eventually finished just outside the top 20 with Martin Brady co-driving.
Definitely no snow on the WRC Rally Mexico where Sebastien Ogier in his Citroen shrugged off a poor road position and a few small problems including a puncture, to power his way to a very impressive win. It was a proper World Champion performance from the Frenchman and his Citroen team. Ott Tanak did well to clean the early tracks & finish 2nd in his Toyota, while Elfyn Evans in his Fiesta was very convincing the whole way through to take 3rd. Thierry Neuville, off colour over the weekend, kept his WRC hopes alive with a battling 4th place finish, and Kris Meeke finished 5th, last of the WRC drivers except for those further back in Super Rally. Kris took the lead of the rally early on the Saturday, only for his Yaris to suffer a puncture and damaged suspension, which flattened the chance of a top result. This was a hot, tough rally for all the drivers, and the high altitudes sapped the drivers and their car’s strength. On the Saturday afternoon Kris’s Yaris clipped a barrier in the spectator stage and also had some gearbox worries. Then on the Sunday Kris gave the Power Stage everything but was pipped by Ogier. In addition, Kris had a few issues outside the car, one of which was a €3,000 fine from the FIA for an alleged driving misdemeanour in a control zone, which made it a difficult weekend for the Dungannon man.
Even though they were in Super Rally both Dani Sordo & Jari-Matti Latvala finished in the top ten. Teemu Sunninen, Ford teammate to Elfyn Evans, did himself no favours when he crashed his Fiesta. Andreas Mikkelsen drove well but an errant rock damaged his Hyundai. The Norwegian was also faced with the ridiculous situation of having to stop in the middle of one stage to open a gate blocking the track. Esapekka Lappi (Citroen) finished down in 13th, again in Super Rally, having skidded his C3 WRC off the road. Both Sordo (Hyundai), who was on a great pace, was stopped by an electrical malady, as was Latvala (Toyota).
Following this 3rd round of the WRC, in the driver’s section Tanak holds a four-point lead over Ogier, with Neuville a further 6 points back. The next WRC event is ‘Tour de Corse’ on March 28-31.
On the McGrady Stages at Bishopscourt, Derek McGarrity in his Fiesta WRC set the pace. His main worry was a few rain showers as
Winners Derek McGarrity and Sean Topping picture:Jonathan MacDonald
he set a series of fastest times and was then able to drive a controlled rally to win. Stephen Wright, who was the winner of the first round of the NI Championship, finished in 5th place this time, his Fiesta R5 lapsing onto 2-wheel drive instead of four. Derek McGeehan was 3rd o/a on this one in his Mini WRC, and finished in the same position on the opener at Kirkistown, which puts the Draperstown man in a strong position in the Championship.
Also last weekend Phillip and Kyle Somerville in their Rover Mini took victory on the Dungannon MC Snowdrop Navigation Rally. John & Jonathan Henderson (Micra) were 2nd and Michael Reid/John Lindsay (MG Midget) were 3rd.
On the double header Hewison Autotest at Waterford Ian White from Kilkenny and Meath’s Guy Foster, both driving Mini Specials, had a huge battle for supremacy. They each scored a win and a second place over the weekend which meant that they also tied for the Hewison Autotest Championship, a fairly unprecedented situation!
Meanwhile this weekend coming we have the mouth-watering West Cork Rally to contemplate, with over 200 crews out to contest the 15 special stages. Various R5 cars dominate the top of the entry, and not a WRC car in sight – oh how situations change. Virtually any one of the top dozen or so seeds could win this rally, and indeed there is more than one or two outside the top dozen who could spring a surprise. Realistically though favourites for victory has to come from drivers such as Craig Breen, with his WRC experience, Donagh Kelly, who has won the rally five times, Tarmac Champion Josh Moffett, who has been runner up twice, Josh’s brother Sam, a former Tarmac Champion, Robert Barrable a former winner, Alastair Fisher who, despite a rally lay-off bounced back with incredible speed on the opening Tarmac round in Galway, Declan Boyle, current National and former Tarmac Champion, to name just a few.
Then we have the cream of the British Championship contenders, as West Cork is now the 2nd counter in their series also: think Matt Edwards, Tom Cave and David Bogie. Dark horses for victory? Then what about Marty McCormack: Manus Kelly: Jonny Greer: Callum Devine: Anything is possible on this fast and tough rally. There will be excitement as well amongst the young drivers in their R2s, the National category cars, with drivers such as Gary Kiernan, Damien Tourish and Frank Kelly in their Escorts. John Dalton in his Darrian could well be a pace setter here, and for pure class what about Mikko Hirvonen in a Mk2 Escort? Then there are the Historics and the Junior category.
For any rally enthusiast worth his or her salt, the place to be in Ireland this weekend has to be the Clonakilty Park Hotel and then out into the beautiful West Cork countryside for such classic stages as ‘The Ring’ , Sams Cross, Ballinascarthy, Ardfield – fabulous stuff!
Further news for this weekend is that the FIA Middle East Rally Championship starts in Qatar and former multiple Champion Nasser Al-Attiyah is the top seed driving one of the new VW Polo GTi R5s.
Last weekend Gary McElhinney co-drove for Seb Perez in a Porsche to 2nd place on Oris Rally Clasico in Mallorca, behind former Austrian Champion Kris Rosenberger. Perez/McElhinney led on the first day, but dropped back with a broken gear linkage on their Porsche.
Motorsport Ireland has launched a new code of conduct called RESPECT to make the sport more inclusive and enjoyable for its drivers, officials and supporters.
New R5 cars reportedly arriving into Ireland over the last week include a Proton and another Hyundai, while Phillip Allen has reportedly sold his Skoda R5 to Marty McCormack.
Horrendous weather conditions brought last Sunday’s Limerick Forestry rally slithering to a halt after just one and a bit stages. It was even tougher for the marshals than the rally crews, although many of the volunteers manning the stages treated the driving snow as an adventure! Be that as it may, with only one stage completed by the crews, well some of them, as there were quite a few stuck in ditches, and even fewer through stage 2 before it was halted, working out results seemed nigh on impossible.
Just how difficult the road surfaces were can be gauged by the fact that Frank Kelly’s Escort slithered into a stage 1 ditch just a few hundred yards from the start, and that was on a straight! Number 1 seed and Valvoline Championship points leader Marty McCormack in his Skoda R5 fared little better. Following the rally, CoC Anthony Nestor, along with results man Angus Sealy spent all day Monday working out which cars had got stuck, which had been the subject of ‘Force Majeure’ and which had been diverted. Somehow Angus and Anthony have come up with a result. As we went to press Anthony was awaiting word from Motorsport Ireland as regards whether there is any regulation covering so much reduced stage mileage. Then the decision will be taken as to whether the results stand.
At the moment the top six finishers are listed as Keith Power, Michael Carbin, Mickey Conlon, David Crossen, Patrick O’Brien and William Creighton, in that order. One important aspect to all this is of course the Valvoline Forestry Championship points positions. We await the outcome with interest. If the results do stand, they will be declared provisional at 6pm this Friday and final at 10pm, to give competitors four hours to lodge a query. Who would be a Clerk of the Course?
The snow wasn’t really forecast, and there was nothing that could be done about it. The real downside is the amount of work and expertise CoC Anthony Nestor and the Limerick club put into the event, for such a poor reward.
This weekend coming, the Ballynahinch Motor Club is running the McGrady Insurance Stages at Bishopscourt, while the World Rally Championship roars back into action on Rally Mexico.
2018 Bishopscourt winner Derek McGarrity
At Bishopscourt current NI Champion Derek McGarrity in his Fiesta WRC is reckoned to be the man to beat, while current points leader Stephen Wright in his Fiesta R5 will be hoping to do just that by repeating his first round victory at Kirkistown. Just some of the other top drivers who should feature include Derek McGeehan (Mini WRC) and Kenny McKinstry (Impreza WRC). Other top names who could be in the thick of the action include Sean Devine (Fiesta), Jonny Morrow (Mirage RS) and Kevin Barrett (Subaru). Barrett generally goes very well at this type of event. Also of interest will be Jonny Greer in the Toyota GT86T as well as Barry Meeke in a Corolla. The two wheel drive contenders will also be at a high level, with top runners to include James and Heather Kennedy in their Escort, Drew Stewart in his Escort, Fintan McGrady (Escort) and Stevie Whitford in his diminutive but potent Nissan Micra. Former NI Champion Stuart Biggerstaff will make one of his occasional appearances, driving the family Impreza WRC. There are six stages on the cards for this Saturday, starting at 9.30am.
The World Rally Championship moves to Mexico this weekend for round three. Photo: @world
In Mexico there is a small entry in the main field, but the principal WRC players are all there, Ogier and Lappi for Citroen, Sunninen and Evans for Ford, Meeke, Tanak and Latvala for Toyota, while Sordo, Neuville and Mikkelsen will drive for Hyundai. As ever the Mexico event promises to be very tough on the cars, a bit of a survivors rally, but still the WRC guys will surely be flat out, and devil take the hindmost! One surprising entry amongst the 7 R5s behind the 10 WRCs is Barry McKenna, (now based in New York but originally from Monaghan) to be co-driven by Arthur Kierans in a Fiesta R5. Ott Tanak currently leads the World Rally Championship from Thierry Neuville, but of course this 3rd round of the series, with its high altitudes, soaring daytime temperatures, massive dust and rocks, will present a totally different challenge to the ice and snow of the opening two counters.
Also due to take place this weekend is the Malcolm Wilson Rally through the Lake District forests. This time last year Grizedale and some of the stages were bogged down in snow, so it is fingers crossed that the rally gets a clear run this time. Euan Thorburn (Focus WRC) currently leads the BTRDA points, while other top seeds include Charlie Payne (Fiesta), Steve Simpson (Fiesta) and Stephen Petch (Fiesta).
Looking forward to the following weekend, 16th/17th March, the West Cork Rally entry would appear to be nearly full and is bursting with top entries, both from the Irish Tarmac Championship and the British Rally Championship. One entry not quite confirmed is that of Donagh Kelly, but he will do his best to be on the Clonakilty start line as long as his Skoda R5 is ready in time following the accident in testing for Galway. Just a taster of those top entries – almost exclusively in R5 machinery – include Craig Breen, Alastair Fisher, Matt Edwards and David Bogie, Robert Barrable, Marty McCormack: and there are a lot more who may figure in what could be the mostly hotly contested leaderboard for years. Keven O’Driscoll, the West Cork Rally spokesperson has just confirmed the top ten is as follows and interestingly it is an all R5 line up 1. D.Kelly (Fabia) 2 C.Breen (Fiesta) 3 J.Moffett (Fiesta) 4.A.Fisher (Fiesta); 5. M.Edwards (Fiesta) 6. S.Moffett (Fiesta) 7 R Barrable (Fabia) 8 D.Henry (Fabia); 9. D.Bogie (Fabia)10 D.Boyle (Fiesta)
News this week includes the MG Car Club (Ulster Centre) holding its Awards presentation dinner this Saturday night in the Ivanhoe at Carryduff. The MG club is also hosting a round of the NI Autotest Championship at the Transport Training Centre near Crumlin on Saturday (23rd March).
Citroen’s chief, NI lady Linda Jackson, has apparently commented that unless the FIA introduce hybrid power units to WRC cars, Citroen could well pull out, as soon as 2020, but this has to be confirmed.
Former top co-driver Michael Gibson from Killinchy, Co. Down, who stepped away from the sport after suffering a back injury, is re-joining the fold and will tackle the ADAC Saarland-Pfaz Rallye in Germany, co-driving for English driver Neil Simpson in a Skoda R5. They are seeded at number 6.
Craig Breen reports from his Andorra base this week that he is heading down to Italy and San Remo territory to test and do an asphalt ‘set up’ for the Meteor team and their Skoda R5. Meteor intend to contest the Italian series, and the test is in conjunction with Skoda. Co Antrim’s John Rowan will co-drive for Craig this week, as Paul Nagle is in Norway. John will then be in a different Skoda next week – the David Bogie machine for West Cork.
Gary McElhinney is away on another adventure – co-driving for Seb Perez in his stunning Porsche, on a similarly stunning rally – XV Rally Clasico Puerto Portals over the fabulous roads of Mallorca.
Further news on the Donegal Déjà vu (30th/31st August) is that Austin MacHale is to take part in the fabulous Xtra-Vision BMW M3 that carried him to victory on the 1990 Donegal International. The Déjà vu is to be based in Jackson’s Hotel Ballybofey.
Below is a short sample video along with our usual stage data samples for the North West Stages 2019. We have completed our pre event recce and as can be seen below, there is a really good variation of roads and conditions.
North West Stages 2019 – Stage Data
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