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Monaghan Stages Rally
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Pre Start - Sunday @ 08:16:55

Rally News No 1 Sunday Hillgrove Hotel 8am

Number one seed and the current leader of the Dunlop National Rally Championship, Niall Maguire has an unprecedented history here on the Monaghan Stages. The local Ballinode driver has a record of six victories on his home event and even more importantly he has the home advantage. The consistency of finishing the previous three rounds has given Maguire the Championship upper hand but he knows that nothing less than a win here is essential if he is to add to his existing three previous championship wins. Kevin Barrett will run second on the road in his Triton Showers Impreza and he will be keen to redress the memory of loosing the win in Kerry due to a tie break. The very fact a tie break situation happened is an indication of how competitive the race for overall honours is in the Dunlop National Championship.

Derek McGarrity will be starting his first ever Monaghan Rally brimming with confidence. Winning the Circuit of Kerry two weeks ago on top of his record breaking Circuit of Ireland victory sees the Glengormley helicopter dealer on the crest of a wave. Equally impressive this season and running at number four is Welsh wizard Melvyn Evans in his Impreza WRC. Victory on the opening two rounds of the Championship saw him head the points going to Kerry but retirement there with turbo problems meant a no score leaving him four points behind Maguire.

Still a massive favourite with the spectators is the venerable Mk2 Escort and today is unlikely to disappoint as the rally boasts a superb selection of some of the best examples around, driven by some very talented drivers. Running at number 5 is local ace Gary McPhilips in his 2.4 litre version and he should be the pace-setter as well as maybe challenging for a top three place if the Monaghan roads stay dry. Young Scotshouse driver Daniel McKenna has been having some storming runs recently and he starts today at six. Running in amid off the Escorts is Maurice Moffett in his equally rapid rwd Starlet and if the going gets slippy at all, the Ballinode Engineering guru will be ready to show his hand.

Danny McBride is the top GpN seed at 19 with Trevor Bustard right behind at 20. Both drivers will utilise Lancer Evo 8 models and could be well into the top ten before the day is out. Other drivers in the showroom class who could spring a surprise include young Sam Moffett and Vincent McAree who are both seeded in the forties.

This weekend also sees the resumption of the HAAS Border Rally Championship after the opening round in Mayo in March. The points scoring is based on class results rather than overall standings. Henderson Auto Sport and Spares are returning for a second year as sponsors and are also continuing to support the HAAS Drive of the day award. There is always plenty of action in the classes all the way down the field so watch out for some interesting battles.

Otto Gropler is perhaps the unluckiest non-starter as his Ford Ka Rally Car, Van and Trailer where all stolen before scrutiny. Other changes to the entry list include Sean Magee co-driving Seamus O’Connell (14) and Martin McGarrity steps in with Martin McPhilips (54). On the Pirelli Rally yesterday in Cumbria Gwyndaf Evans and his Northern Ireland co-driver Chris Patterson took a dramatic last stage win after Keith Cronin retired within sight of the finish. Belfast’s Jonathan Greer was second with Craig Breen third after he suffered a final stage puncture. Keep an eye out for Dunlop Championship registrar Laura Furey who is stepping into the co-drivers seat with Loretta Kelly for the first time today.

More News Later After Stage 1 … Michael & Zoë Patterson

2018 Patterson Agencies

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