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Circuit of Munster
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Pre Start - Saturday @ 19:03:42

RALLY NEWS NO.1 Woodlands House Hotel Adare/Saturday evening

With fine weather forecast it looks like being a bumper Bank Holiday weekend’s rallying on this Circuit of Munster, a top class entry promising high speeds over the fabulous stages outside Newcastle West. The name of the game for most of the top crews is to score maximum points in the Dunlop National Championship, of which this is round 4. Current Champion Patrick Elliott has been all conquering this season despite the best efforts of Niall Maguire and Kevin Barrett. Although all three drive Subaru Impreza WRC’s, probably Elliott’s example will be best suited to these fast stages. Patrick put his car off the road on the recent Killarney Lakes, but happily there was little damage and service supremo Robbie McGurk has the car like a new penny.

There has been a bit of a break in the Championship since the last round in Kerry and Niall Maguire has built up his confidence with back to back wins on the Monaghan and Cavan rallies, but if he is to turn his Championship around, he really needs to get ahead of Patrick Elliott here. Kevin Barrett starts at 3 in his Triton Showers Impreza, and it would be a real red letter day if Kevin could give his Co-driver Sean Mullaly, who only lives a couple of miles from Rally HQ,, a home win. If Kevin can produce the sort of form that he did in Cavan last weekend, it’s possible. Running at 4 is Sean Gallagher in his Subaru, and he has another local man, Anthony Nestor, co-driving this time. Sean shouldn’t be a mile away from the pace either. Behind those four World Rally cars at the front are six of the fastest GpN cars, to make up the top ten seeds.

Kevin Kelleher from West Cork is at 5 in his Lancer, while also in Lancers is Anthony O’Halloran (No 6): Eamonn Daly (No7): Thomas Fitzmaurice (no8): Garry Jennings (No9) and Sean Flanagan (No10). Sean was originally entered in his Impreza, but that car isn’t ready, so he is driving a Kelleher Lancer. Tyre magnate Eamonn Daly has had British Champion Guy Wilks over for a day to help with the set-up of his Mitsubishi and Eamonn told us that everything is looking good for him. Garry Jennings commented about the stages, “The first one should suit the GpN cars, but the 2nd and 3rd stages have a few deceptive corners, we’ll see how it goes.” Unfortunately Garry could be in trouble with his car, as the fire extinguisher system was set off by mistake at scrutiny, and could have damaged the ECU. Tralee man Thomas Fitzmaurice actually leads the GpN section of the National series, and is 3rd o/a, so he will be looking for another good score here.

No1 seed Patrick Elliott commented about the rally before the start, “Nice stages, there are quick places and tight places, but it is all pretty safe. I’m looking forward to it. I’m maybe not as match fit as Niall and Kevin, so it might be the 2nd loop of stages before we see how we go.” Kevin Barrett’s co-driver Sean Mullally told us, “Kevin’s in great form, he’s like a new person, great commitment and the car’s working well with the suspension changes.” Former multiple rally champion Niall Maguire reported that his Subaru has had a real good check over after the big race with Kevin Barrett last weekend in Cavan and he is well set up for the rally.

Just outside the top ten is the first of the Modified cars, Mike Quinn/Grainne McEnery. They showed on the Circuit of Kerry just what a Mk2 Escort can do by taking a podium place and they will be looking for a repeat of that form here on the Circuit of Munster. Some of the other leading Mk2 Escort exponents who should be right in the frame include Ed Synan (14): Paul Purtill (15): Gary Reidy (16): Barry Meade (18).

Some changes to the published entry list include: Ed O’Callaghan, Frank Sweeney, Mick McQuaid, Anthony Hand, Jim McKenna and Andrew Bushe non-starting. Co-driver changes include: Anthony Nestor now sits with Sean Gallagher. David Lyons is with Paul Purtill and Pat Cashman is with Tadgh Linehan. Paul McEnroe now has Andy Donoghue co-driving in his Impreza N14.The rally will almost certain start 141 cars in the main field with many of the reserves now getting a run. The Junior category has now swelled to 17 and the Junior Championship is looking a little healthier. Finally for now, Danny Barry & Martin Brady have won GpN on the Severn Valley Rally to extend their lead in the Evo Challenge. Danny was 3rd o/a which was won by Marcus Dodd from Roger Duckworth. Simon Hughes was 2nd Evo with Nik Elsmore 3rd and Owen Murphy 4th.
More news after stage 1: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net

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