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Fastnet Stages Rally
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Pre start - Sunday @ 07:38:28
 
RALLY NEWS NO.1 West Cork Hotel Skibbereen/Sunday morning

This Fastnet Rally has the air of an end of term party for the top crews, as the National Championship driver’s title is decided, as is the Southern Four series. This leaves drivers such as No.1 seed Denis Cronin and new Dunlop National Champion Melvyn Evans, who starts a 2, a clear run to just enjoy what looks like it could be a great rally. Similarly Kevin Barrett at 3 and Daragh O’Riordan at 4, also in Subaru WRC machines, have no worries about Championships, and can just go for a blast and enjoy the West Cork roads. Melvyn Evans commented as his Impreza was checked over at scrutiny: “I thought it would be nice to finish the season off here, and of course I’m looking after a couple of other cars as well. I don’t intend to go crazy on the stages, but then when the flag drops that will probably all change!”

Clerk of the Course Ger Hayes has laid on a compact but challenging route and with the weather forecast being for cold dry conditions, speeds could be high but the enjoyment factor for the drivers immense.

There are still some categories to be decided in the National Championship, particularly GpN, where either Shane Maguire or Sean Flanagan can still take our Patterson RallyNews Award. A late edition to the entry is British Champion Keith Cronin, who starts 5th on the road in his GpN Lancer. Keith, who will surely be the GpN benchmark, has Conor O’Neill co-driving. Keith’s Lancer will have the No.131 on its flanks, and he freely admits that it was a last minute decision to compete on the rally, and for no other reason than to just enjoy himself. Further top GpN names are Kevin Kelleher, Jer O’Donovan, Eugene Meegan, Brian O’Keefe and Thomas Fitzmaurice, all running in the top 20.

Another Dunlop National series category to be decided on this final round is the destiny of the rally.ie award, and at least three drivers, Declan Boyle, Mike Quinn and Lloyd Hutchinson can take that particular title. Donegal man Boyle in his Escort starts at No.8, Mike Quinn in his Escort is 10th on the road and carries the No.119 on his car, while Lloyd Hutchinson has the No. 22 on his amazingly fast Mini Cooper. Ed O’Callaghan in his Mk2 starts at No.9 and he can win the Southern 4 series today. The driver who could possibly deny him the title is Brian O’Mahony who starts at 10.

As well as Welshman Melvyn Evans at 3, we have two more drivers from Wales in Subaru WRC’s, Berian Richards and James Belton, and they start at 15 & 16. Belton was actually seeded at 7, but chose to run a bit further back. Melvyn Evans is looking after his car and the mechanics fitted a new gearbox yesterday.

Early yesterday Eugene Donnelly tested the Alan Clarke Nova he is driving this weekend. Five times Tarmac Champion Eugene reported all well, “A great wee yoke”. Adrian Deasy was to have co-driven but sadly his father Patsy passed away on Friday so Alan White is now co-driving. Some further changes to the published entry list include; No.5 Liam McCarthy is a non-starter. Christine Shanahan is now co-driving for James Belton. Liam Brennan is with Gwyn Thomas in the 4wd Puma at No.25. Denis O’Mahony is with John Hendy at 23. Over 100 cars will start the main rally plus 20 Juniors and around 4 Historics.

On yesterday’s Down Forestry Rally Kenny McKinstry was the winner in his Subaru with Colin Britton 2nd and Connor McCloskey 3rd. Provisionally Stuart Biggerstaff would appear to have clinched the Hankook NI series, as his main rival Mark Donnelly was penalised 10m for receiving outside assistance. The rally was also the final counter in the Petro Systems MI National Forestry series. Pat O’Connell is provisionally the new Champion, although he did not finish the event as he beached his Lancer in stage 4 Tullymore. John Reid did not finish the event either. More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net
 
 
 



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