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RBS Int Manx National Rally 2008
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Pre Start - Thursday @ 15:18:07

WEE MANX TALES NO.1 Grandstand/Douglas/Friday 5.45

Kenny McKinstry may be in an older model Impreza WRC than he intended for this rally, but former Tarmac Champion Kenny will still almost certainly be the yardstick for the other drivers. Aside from being in the older model Subaru, Kenny, five times a winner of this Manxl, was however never going to get it easy on this rally. He may love it here on the Island, thinks the stages are fabulous, but even he has discovered to his cost on occasion that there are some fierce slippy patches!

Besides the challenge of the roads, this year’s rally, sponsored by RBS International, sports as strong a line up of top drivers and cars as there has been for many a long day. Indeed, the fact that the rally is a round of both the MSA Gravel, as well as the MSA Asphalt Championship, plus being a counter in the prestigious Lancer Evo Challenge, means there are very fine drivers scattered throughout the entry list, well beyond the usual top ten or so. Add in a touch of Manx magic with drivers such as Rob Watson in his giant killing Nova, and it all gets very interesting.

The top ten is pretty special. Behind Kenny is former champions Roger Duckworth and Mark Broomfield in their Subaru. Their last asphalt rally was the Cork ‘20’, so it may take them a mile or two to get going, but they usually go well here, have been runner –up many times, and would dearly love to win. Melvyn Evans, another former winner here, is at 3. Melvyn, with Limerick man Sean Mullally on the notes, scored a memorable victory on the Welsh Rally last weekend. Melvyn really, REALLY, wants to win this rally again, so stand well back! Sean got such an eye opener at Melvyn’s pace over Epynt that he begged him to slow the notes down a tad for this rally and at one point they had a bit of a disagreement. Allegedly Melvyn went to the pub and Sean walked from Creg-ny-Baa back to the hotel in Douglas! Thankfully their difference of opinion is now behind them. Just to add a little spice to proceedings, Sean quite often co-drives for Kenny McKinstry also, so there could be a bit of banter in the Grandstand service area!

At 4 is current MSA Gravel Championship leader Jon Ingram. He drives an S9 Impreza WRC from the McKinstry hire fleet, not the usual S11. This car is right hand drive, not LHD which he usually has, so Jon will just have to get the finger out and get on with it! Tim McNulty was to be at 5, but he damaged his Subaru last week in Killarney, and although he might just have been able to get it repaired in time, Tim thought it would all have been just too much of a rush to get set up for ‘The Island’. At 6 is the defending MSA Gravel Champion, Marcus Dodd, driving his Hyundai Accent WRC. Marcus professes to be no great lover of asphalt rallies, but over the past couple of years he has been upping his pace, was 3rd here last year, and if he has a decent run at all, he could just spring a surprise.

At 7 is Ulsterman Stephen Moore, very much a Manx rookie on his first visit to the Island, and with no big claim to be an asphalt supremo. Still, Stephen is the Irish forestry champion and has shown before that he is a quick learner. His Focus WRC is a fabulous car for the job. At 8 is another former Gravel Champion, and indeed winner of this rally, David Mann, in his Subaru. David went into the rally doldrums for a couple of seasons, but he is right back in the thick of it this year, featuring at the front of the MSA Asphalt Championship. Julian Reynolds in his Subaru at 9 and ‘VK’ man Steve Perez, another former Champion, in his Focus WRC round off the top ten. Steve is another who probably feels more at home through the forests, but with Howard Davies on the notes, could go very well indeed.

Just outside the top ten we have 2006 MSA Asphalt Champion David Knyaston in his Audi A3 Quattro and at 12 is Steve Fleck, making a welcome return in his Subaru. 12 times Asphalt series winner John Price is at 14 in his fabulous Metro 6R4, Rob Watson is at 15 and John Cope is at 16 in an Impreza. Highest seeded of the Lancer Evo Challenge contenders is Neil McCance at 17, with David Bogie at 18. Series leader Danny Barry is at 23 with 2nd in the points Richard Cathcart at 24, but as we said earlier, there are really good drivers right down the list. Clerk of the Course John Skinner can’t put a quart in a pint pot; he can’t put everybody in the top twenty!

Besides the story on Tim McNulty there are very few changes to the published entry list, although car 77, Mark Gamble, has withdrawn. As ever it was a bit of a squeeze to get all the cars and trucks on to the Island. Danny Barry’s father for example had to bring his truck from Wicklow to Liverpool to get on the ferry, and even then Danny Senior had to turn on all his Irish charm to get a space! They are here and ready to go as are most of the 120 strong entries and hopefully it will be a rally to remember.
More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net


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