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ALMC Rally 2008
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Rally HQ Pre Start - Tuesday @ 16:28:08

RALLY NEWS NO.1 Rally HQ/Julianstown/Sunday morning…early

Last year’s winner Paddy White and his co-driver Graeme Stewart in their Ford Focus WRC will lead the full 131 entry away from the City North Hotel for this year’s ALMC Stages. For Navan man Paddy it will be a case of ‘in at the deep end’, as he hasn’t competed since last year’s Rally Ireland. Padyy joked before the start “I’m that rusty I need a drop of the 3 in One oil!” Still, if Paddy was able to conquer the floods on last year’s ALMC, he should be able to overcome all difficulties this time. At 2 is former Tarmac Champion Kenny McKinstry in one of his WRC Subarus, and at 3 is former multiple NI Rally Champion Kevin Lynch, hoping for a good run today to shake down his Subaru WRC, which has been out of action since sliding into a Tim Healy ditch on the Killarney Rally of the Lakes. Kenny was competing yesterday in the Loughgall charity event, driving a Mk2 Escort, so it will be quite a change this morning climbing into the Subaru! Kenny’s daughter Emma also drives an Impreza WRC and runs at No18. Sean McArdle was to be at 4, but he couldn’t make it, so next on the road will be the two Toyota Celicas of Mark Courtney and Tom Holton. Mark Courtney has been going really well recently in his example, and is looking for a good result here. Tom Holton has been having a few niggly problems with his, even though it has been more or less all rebuilt, but it’s looking good now for the Enfield window contractor, and he is another who could be on for a good run.

Behind the two Toyotas are the first of the two wheel drive machines, Pat Donegan in his Escort and Maurice Moffett in his RWD Escort. These two are just the tip of the two wheel drive iceberg. There will be a host of guys in Escorts who will almost certainly be ‘on the pace’, although the weather, and possibly wet roads, could play against them. It certainly will for Moffett because, although he has been, figuratively speaking, on the crest of a rally wave recently, he hates wet weather and anyway his Starlet wipers aren’t working the best! Donegan comes from just up the road, in Wilkinstown, so he is very much on his home patch here, and could go very well. Just some of the other top Mk2 Escort men who could be in the frame include Trevor Mulligan, Trevor Culbert, Michael Curran and a whole lot more. The top 10 is rounded off by the Metro 6R4’s of two extremely welcome visiting UK crews, Mark Jasper/Don Whyatt from Stafford, and John Stone/Lee Carter from Lancashire.

The rally is a round of several Championships, including the Irish Mitsubishi Evo Challenge, and almost certainly some of the Lancer crews will be battling for top ten honours. Perhaps the most fancied is GpN Tarmac Champion Colm Murphy. Ironically, although Colm has been setting scorching times this season in the Foley Mitsubishi, he has either crashed out or the car has broken something silly and stopped! Alan Carmichael currently leads the Evo Challenge points but he is feeling a little unwell this weekend.

Just some of the other Lancer drivers include current Tarmac Champion co-driver Paul Kiely, and Fergal Costello of JAP Cars who now sponsor the Midlands East Championship. This is a class based series, and Chris Kelly in his Nova, and Michael Hagan (Civic), are the current leaders. Cork man Owen Murphy, a former Billy Coleman Award winner, has been amongst the quicker Evo drivers this season, and he is hoping a new ECU, as well as the cut-out switch, will cure a problem he has been having with his car. Despite having No.15 on his Lancer, Owen will probably start 5th on the road, with Colm Murphy (No20) 4th and Damien Tourish (No 32) 6th.

In overall terms, the rally has a varied and interesting entry, and really is wide open. In addition to being a round of the Evo Challenge and the Midlands East series, the rally also features as a counter in Rory Galligan’s Irish Peugeot 205 Challenge. There is also a Junior section, where 20 Juniors will compete over the final 5 of the 9 stages. Several of the reserves have been slotted in to the main entry, while some further non-starters besides Sean McArdle include Sean Flanagan (No33). Brian Duggan was to co-drive for Sean but is now sitting with Colm Murphy. Tom Curley (No31) now has Brian Miller co-driving. Andrew Bushe is unable to make the start as his Saxo not ready. Niall Byrne (No38) and Larry Brady (No49) are non-starters.
More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net


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