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Mayo Stages Rally
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Pre Start - Saturday @ 18:22:18

RALLY NEWS NO.1 Saturday Evening/Clarmorris

Former winner of this Mayo Stages Rally, Aaron MacHale, began his rally weekend this time in the McWilliam Park Hotel by giving a road safety talk to members of the local youth club. That was on Friday evening and then on Saturday morning it was reconnaissance time for Aaron and his co-driver Diarmuid Falvey, as well as for the over 100 other crews in the rally. Then on Saturday evening it was time for Aaron to fire up his Focus WRC and take his place as No.1 seed at the ceremonial start in Claremorris. He commented, “I can’t wait to get going!”

This marks the beginning of a new era for the Mayo Stages, moving to a new location and with a new CoC Eamonn Walsh. The rally is round 2 of the National Championship, and the opening counter in the Border series. Ahead of Aaron MacHale’s Focus will be several ‘00’ cars, one of them, an Escort, being driven by young Norwegian rally driver Mads Ostberg. Mads, who is a former Norwegian Rally Champion, is at the deep end a little never having rallied a right hand drive car. He has no experience of the Irish roads and his guest co-driver, Mark Kilgallon, is not practised on the pace notes! Behind Aaron MacHale are four World Rally Subarus, to be driven by Welshman Melvyn Evans, Niall Maguire, Derek McGarrity and Kevin Barrett. McGarrity has come straight from winning the Bishopscourt Rally in Co. Down today.

Then at 6 is young Waterford driver Craig Breen, driving one of the new Fiesta Super 2000’s. Craig was pretty sensational in this car on the recent Galway International and finished 2nd overall. Who is to say he won’t go one better here? If he does it will be a case of re-writing the record books. Craig told us that he is trying different gear ratios this time as he was revving the car to the limit on the Galway International. Otherwise the Fiesta is on the Galway settings.

Kevin Kelleher was to start behind Breen, but Clonakilty man Kevin can’t make it here this weekend, so next on the road will be Monaghan’s Daniel McKenna in his Escort. Daniel reports a slight misfire in his Escort’s engine, but he should still be the yardstick for all the very quick Escort men, with drivers such as Manus Kelly, Camillus Bradley, Damien Gallagher, Trevor Mulligan and a whole lot more sure to provide some stunning action. Also running in that class is Maurice Moffett in his very quick Starlet, Maurice is always a great ‘sideways man’.

Top GpN runner is Donegal’s Danny McBride in his Lancer, and he will face GpN opposition from Sean Flanagan (GpN Impreza), the Bustard brothers Trevor and Kenny and Rory Byrne in Lancers. There is a special GpA category and that should provide a lot of interest, two of the top drivers being Mark Courtney in his Celica and Gary McElhinney in his Lancer. It will be worth looking out as well for Mayo Club Chairman, Sean McHugh, in his rally BMW, an unusual but exciting car. But then there is so much of interest on the rally that it should make for a cracking weekend!

More news after stage 1: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net


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