EVANS/WALSH WIN DUNLOP CHAMPIONSHIP IN CLARE - Report courtesy of Dunlop - Proud sponsors of the National Rally Championship
Posted: September 24, 2010 3:31 PM
WELSH ace, Mel Evans (Subaru WRC)and co-driver, Patrick Walsh clinched the Dunlop National Rally Championship courtesy of their third place in the Ennis based Irish Court Hotels Clare Rally, the penultimate round of the series.
The event was won by Tim McNulty/Paul Kiely (Subaru WRC), who finished seven seconds ahead of the Subaru WRC of Derek McGarrity/James McKee.
The Group N category was won by the local crew of Anthony O'Halloran/Charlie McEnery (Mitsubishi) while Wesley Patterson/Martin McGarrity (Ford Escort) won the Modified category.
Evans set the pace on the first test, Lickeen Road, near Kilfenora where the Welshman was two seconds quicker than McGarrity with McNulty a further five seconds behind, the latter on his first event in quite some time. Pre-event Dunlop Championship leader, Niall Maguire was fourth followed by Daragh O'Riordan to complete all Subaru quintet.
Late entry, Wesley Patterson (Escort) led the Modified category and also held sixth overall while Shane Maguire (Subaru) led Group N.
McGarrity was quickest through the second stage, Father Ted's, to move into the lead - six seconds ahead of Evans and McNulty who tied for second.
Out on the final stage of the opening loop, Dromore, McNulty set a strong pace and moved alongside McGarrity at the top of the leaderboard. The Meath man commented that he was somewhat cautious over the first pair of stages. McGarrity stated that he was cautious on the third stage particularly where the surface was wet and slippery.
Evans, not surprisingly, had his Dunlop title ambitions very firmly on his mind and had backed off accordingly, he was twelve seconds off the top. O'Riordan in fourth had brake troubles while fifth placed Maguire admitted to getting his tyre selection wrong.
Patterson maintained a strong pace that yielded sixth overall in a top ten that also included Kevin Barrett, Anthony O'Halloran, Shane Maguire and Mike Quinn. Rally.ie leader, Declan Boyle crashed his Escort on the second stage, elsewhere, Lloyd Hutchinson (Mini) was eleventh while Sean Flanagan (Subaru) lost time with two punctures.
On S.S. 4, McGarrity, took sole possession of the lead as he opened up a four second lead over McNulty, the duo set identical times on the fifth stage while the sixth stage was cancelled due to reasons outside the control of the organisers. At the Ennis service halt, McGarrity was in ebullient mood, "I'm not just to let him (Tim McNulty) beat me." Meanwhile, Dunlop contender, Evans remarked, "It's tricky in places, I have backed of a bit, if we continue the way we are going, we should be alright." Maguire, who occupied fourth reckoned the tyres just didn't work while fifth placed, O'Riordan, admitted he was off the pace at the start but was beginning to increase his tempo.
Patterson continued to set an impressive pace in the Modified category as he retained sixth position. The remaining places in the top ten, held by Barrett, O'Halloran, Shane Maguire and Quinn, were unchanged
Out on S.S. 7, McGarrity extended his over McNulty to six seconds.
However, McGarrity subsequently spun his Subaru WRC on the penultimate test and McNulty took full advantage to move into a two second lead. Still in the balance on the final stage, McNulty posted the fastest time to take victory by seven seconds.
Behind the top three, former Dunlop champion Niall Maguire was fourth followed by Daragh O'Riordan (Subaru WRC), who had a brief excursion on the penultimate test. Wesley Patterson (Ford Escort) ran out a convincing winner of the Modified category, he was sixth overall followed by the Subaru of Kevin Barrett.
Clare's, Anthony O'Halloran (Mitsubishi) won the Group N category where Sean Flanagan eventually finished down in 41st. position. Pat Kirk (Mitsubishi) and Shane Maguire (Subaru) completed the top ten.
The Dunlop "Driver of the Day" award went to Mark Wedlock, driving a Ford Escort and seded at 69, he finished 23rd. overall.
Meanwhile, Darren and Nicola McKenna (Toyota Corolla) clinched the Dunlop Junior Championship.
Successful Debut in R2 for Fiesta SportTrophy UK Champion
Posted: September 24, 2010 3:26 PM
Last weekend saw Jonathan Cunningham (26) and navigator Richard Millener (26) both from Workington, UK travel to South West Ireland for the Clare Stages Junior Rally, where they finished an impressive third overall in the Junior section of the rally. The event also saw for the first time the pairing take to the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R2, designed by M-Sport, the team behind the Ford World Rally Team.
Cunningham, originally from Galway, had organised a deal which saw him hire the R2 for the event, the car is the next step up from his regular Ford Fiesta ST. The weekend had two main aims, firstly to gain some practice in this type of car before he takes up his prize for winning the Fiesta SportTrophy UK, which is a fully funded drive in an R2, ran by M-Sport. The second being to try and secure his chances of becoming a wildcard entrant for the prestigious Billy Coleman Award, which is designed to help fund young Irish drivers in the sport. If Cunningham can get selected for the prize and win it he would secure 50,000 Euros of backing from the governing body of rallying in Ireland, Motorsport Ireland and the Irish Sports Council. The award is renowned for discovering new talent and it would secure Cunningham’s hopes of being able to compete for the full year in 2011 in the British Rally Championship.
The Clare stages rally was based around the roads of Ennis with the stages being a mixture of very fast sections as well as tricky tight sections. With the pairing having never competed in the R2 before, which is has vastly increased performance to their usual car, plus the fact that it was left hand drive, and had to be brought home in one piece meant the challenge was made all the more difficult! A steady drive over the four stages saw the pairing get faster on every test and climb from fourth position to finish a comfortable third overall in the Junior section of the event as well as set times that would have placed them in the top 20 of the main event.
Cunningham and Millener were both incredibly happy with the result and having gained the chance to test the exciting car they hope to use more regularly next year.
Last week was only however the start of a busy period for the pairing as this weekend sees them compete in the final round of the British Rally Championship Challenge (BRCC) series, on the Trackrod Rally based in Scarborough. If the pairing finish well here they could clinch some more titles to add to the Fiesta Championship which has already been secured. After the Trackrod the pairing will both fly to France where they will attend the French round of the World Rally Championship where they will be working with the Ford World Rally Team where they are both currently employed.
Driver Jonathan Cunningham said:
“The Clare Stages event was brilliant, the chance to drive the R2 has been amazing, and the car is so much fun to drive. It has just teased me though because at the moment I don’t have the budget to drive it all the time! Hopefully making the effort to do things like this will help me get onto the shortlist for the Billy Coleman award, because I am determined to continue developing my rallying career, and I need this award to progress. Now my attention turns to the Trackrod this weekend, where I will be back in my familiar Fiesta ST and will try to win the BRCC Class 3 award, and mathematically I can still win the championship overall, so I will be driving my hardest!"
Navigator Richard Millener said:
"The event at the weekend was brilliant fun, it was great to get the chance to go in the R2 and we really hope we can get to use it again more often. We are both determined to compete in the full British Rally Championship next year, but for now we are in the middle of an extremely busy time and we are fully preparing for the Trackrod rally this weekend! We will be trying to round off the year in style at this event."
This weekend will see Jonathan Cunningham (26) of Workington UK, originally from Galway, Ireland, travel back to his home country to compete in the Clare Stages Junior Rally. The event will be extra special for Cunningham as he will for the first time drive the Fiesta R2 on the event.
The R2 is a significant step up from his usual rally car as it boasts a five speed Sadev sequential gearbox, uprated two way adjustable Reiger dampers and uprated four pot AP racing calipers. The car is designed and built by M-Sport Ltd, the company behind the Ford World Rally Team. This exciting oppourtunity has come about as a result of winning the UK Fiesta Sport Challenge, which Cunningham wrapped up in July on the Manx International Rally. The Ford Fiesta R2 will allow Cunningham to gauge his pace against championship regulars who already have class R2 machinery. The main aim for Cunningham will be to complete the four stage event and set some competitive times, but the event also makes up a round of the Irish Junior Rally Championship and is a nominating round for the Billy Coleman Award. This shootout based award is designed for up and coming young drivers and gives the eventual winner a chance to compete for one of the most prestigious prizes in motorsport to help support their 2011 rally season. Cunningham has a shot of gaining a "wildcard" entry for the competition at the Clare event and so will be pushing hard to try to impress the panel of judges.
Cunningham will be joined at the rally by regular co-driver Richard Millener (26) from Workington, UK who will fly over at the weekend for the event. Although the use of the Fiesta R2 is currently a one off drive, there are discussions in place that could see the duo compete in the full 2011 British Rally Championship as part of
Cunningham and Millener celebrating the Fiesta SportTrophy Title on The Manx a larger team. In International Rally preperation for this
Cunningham and Millener have been busy working on all aspects of the sport including media activities, driver and co-driver
training and personal fitness. Last weekend saw both compete in the Bala Triathlon in North Wales. The tri consisted of a one mile open water swim, 24 mile bike and 6 mile run. Cunningham completed the course in 2hrs 47 with Millener two minutes behind him - a successful tri debut, in addition to events like this both regularly attend training sessions with M-Sport performance trainer Barry Jonson. This weekend will mark the start of a busy few weeks for the pairing, the Clare Stages Rally is closely followed next weekend by the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire based in the seaside resort of Scarborough, which is the final round of the British Rally Championship.
Although already crowned champions in the Fiesta Sport Trophy the Trackrod rally is a part the BRC Challenge where Cunningham can still has a mathematical chance to take overall victory as well as winning the RC3 class drivers award.
Driver Jonathan Cunningham said:
The opportunity I have been given this weekend is a great chance for us to be able to get a feeling for
he Fiesta R2 and has only come around because of the success we have had in the Fiesta Sport Trophy this year. It is only a one-off at the moment - but there are one or two possibilitys that we are working on for the future and this gives us a great chance to get a taster of the car. It is going to be a busy couple of weeks with Clare and Trackrod back-to-back but we are as prepared as we can be and when Ricahrd challenged me to the Bala Triathlon - it was too good an opportunity to miss. It was hard work, but the training we have been doing with Barry Johnson up at M-Sport seems to be paying off!
Navigator Richard Millener said:
It's fantastic that we have this oppourtunity to try out the new Fiesta R2 and after the event me and Jonny can sit down to try and work out some of the options that we have for next year. We have a three year plan, with this being our first and we are both determined to meet our aspirations, and with both of us prepared to make the necessary effort to succeed we will not give up easy. For now however, the main priority is to get good results in Clare and on the Trackrod, and for me personally is to improve my fitness further so I beat Jonny in the next tri!
Late Entries include Wesley Patterson & Kevin Barrett
Posted: September 17, 2010 6:22 PM
Late entries include Wesley Patterson/Martin McGarrity (Escort Mk2) and Kevin Barrett/Sean Mullally (Subaru Impreza WRC)
DUNLOP TRIO CONTINUE TITLE RACE IN CLARE - Preview courtesy of Dunlop - Proud sponsors of the National Rally Championship
Posted: September 17, 2010 2:08 PM
The Ennis based Irish Court Hotels Clare Rally on Sunday next (September 19th.) offers Mel Evans - one of the three Dunlop National Rally Championship chasing contenders - an opportunity create a piece of Irish rallying history. Third placed points will be enough for the Welshman to become the first ever overseas driver to win the Dunlop series.
An exciting season has developed into this triple battle, the first of its kind since the early 1990's when the late Mickey Farrell battled with John Gilleece and Eamonn Boland in a triple decider.
The aforementioned Evans along with former triple champion, Niall Maguire and Derek McGarrity, all in Subaru WRC's, are chasing the Vard Memorial Trophy.
Should Maguire win the last two rounds and with dropped scores taken into consideration, the maximum number of points he can amass is 148. Meanwhile, two maximum scores for McGarrity would give him a total of 146 - he has already failed to finish two events.
However, Evans on 132 points, requires a minimum of 16 points from Clare (third registered finisher) to win the series albeit on a tie-break, he has five maximum scores, which neither of his rivals cannot match. After the Sligo event, Evans remarked that he considered the final three rounds, Tipperary, Clare and Skibbereen as being on home territory given their proximity to his ferry journey.
Top seed and current Dunlop leader, Niall Maguire was pragmatic when asked what tactics he will employ, "Sure, isn't it the same as all the other events. I will go as hard as I can. With the S11, I'm losing out to Mel and Derek, particularly out of the junctions where I'm down a couple of seconds each time, the 12's have the punch. But it's not over yet, there are still two rounds to go and anything can happen." The Monaghan ace has won three national titles and remarkably, has finished runner-up in the national series on eight different occasions.
Evans is seeded at number two and is unlikely to take any chances given the fact that he can clinch the series. Without doubt, he has been the star of the series with five wins to his credit. He made the perfect start with victory in the opening two rounds in Nenagh and Mayo. His only retirement came on the Circuit of Kerry, his other victories were on the Circuit of Munster, Sligo and the last round, the Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally in Clonmel.
McGarrity, with two non-finishes, has the most difficult task of the trio, however, he has stated his ambition to win in Clare although he admitted he needed Evans to falter.
The Clare Club, who are celebrating 30 years in promoting motorsport, have succeeded in attracting no fewer than five World Rally Cars amongst their top ten.
Meath's, Tim McNulty (Subaru WRC) is making his second appearance in a round of the Dunlop series. Earlier this year, he won the Cavan Rally beating Derek McGarrity by just 13 seconds. Cork driver, Daragh O'Riordan (Subaru WRC) like McNulty, is utilising the nine stage Clare event as a shakedown for the forthcoming Cork "20" International Rally.
Meanwhile, Donegal's, Declan Boyle (Ford Escort) continues his quest for the rally.ie award for the top two-wheel drive exponent. He is 14 points ahead of Lloyd Hutchinson (Mini) and twenty points better off than Mike Quinn, who will have local Clare co-driver, Grainne McEnery guiding him around the Clare terrain.
Another local stalwart, Anthony O'Halloran (Mitsubishi) will be co-driven by Grainne's brother, Charlie, will be seeking to uphold local honour.
The top ten is completed by the Group N Subaru duo of Sean Flanagan and Shane Maguire. Flanagan leads the race for the Patterson's RallyNews Group N award - where he has a six-point advantage over Maguire, who is in his first full season in the Group N car.
Just two of the 14 classes that are being contested have already been decided with Anthony Matterson (Class 7) and Richard Burke (Class 15) taking the spoils.
Meanwhile, other entries for the Clare encounter include the Mitsubishi pair of Trevor Bustard and Thomas Fitzmaurice, Ed Synan (Ford Escort) and David Armstrong (Ford Escort), Vincent O'Shea (Escort Cosworth), Pat Kelly (Subaru), Alan O'Callaghan (Subaru), Lloyd Hutchinson (Mini) and the Escort trio of Aidan Walsh, Joe Connolly and Ken Lyons.
The top four seeded drivers in the Junior category are: Darren McKenna (Toyota Corolla), Kevin O'Connor (Citroen C2R2), Cal McCarthy (Honda Civic) and Jonathan Cunningham (Ford Fiesta R2).
30th Anniversary Programme
at €10 per programme (104 pages)
Programmes will be on sale at
rally hq the auburn lodge, o'sullivan and hansbury motors,
westgate motor factors, charlie mcenery motor services,
gerry donnellan's mace, on the Lahinch Road, Maxol, Limerick Road, Ennis Motor Factors.
Mill Road, Ennis, Mace Crusheen and also they will be on sale during the ceremonial start
at the square on Saturday night, all day in service at Gort Road Industrial Estate,
Saturday & Sunday and Ruan Village on Sunday.
The Clare Club have teamed up with The Clare Council and The Gardai to promote Road Safety over the weekend of the Rally and are asking all the people who are watching the event to drive safely, hence our message “ Keep The Race in its Place”
“Never Drink and Drive, Always Wear A Seatbelt, Slow Down, Arrive Alive.”
The first car leaves the Auburn Lodge Hotel at 08.30 on Sunday Morning for the three stages Lickeen Lake, Father Ted’s and Dromore. The cars will return to the Industrial Estate on the Gort Road for service at 11.12 and 14.06.
The cars will finish back at the Auburn Lodge at the finish ramp at 17.00 where the winner will be announced.
Inspector John Galvin, Dermot Kelleher (COC), Sargent John Ryan, Darren Hayes, Chief Inspector John Kerins and Barry Keating
(Clare Co. Council)
Photo: Aidan Sweeney Photography
30 YEAR SOUVENIR PROGRAMME
Posted: September 14, 2010 6:06 PM
As the Clare Club are celebrating thirty years of promoting Motorsport in the county there will also be a souvenir programme on sale for just 10 euro which will contain the stage maps and a lot of photographic memories over the last thirty years. These will be on sale at the square, the Auburn Lodge, The Service Area and at various locations around the town.
There are also a total of thirty three Clare Motor Club Crews taking part in this years event and there will be hugh battles in the various classes for the top positions.
Posted: September 14, 2010 6:05 PM
New for this years Clare Stages Rally is the Ceremonial Start which will take place at the square in the centre of Ennis Town at 7.45 pm. The Organising Committee have decided to bring the top twenty cars and also the local clare drivers to the Start Ramp in the square where they will be interviewed by “The Voice of Irish Motorsport” Duggie Hughes.. This will be a fantastic opportunity for local people to see the cars and meet the drivers and navigators.
The Clare Motor Club Rally Committee are busy with preparations for the 2010 “Irish Court Hotels Clare Stages Rally 2010” which takes place on sunday 19th, September.
The event is based at the Auburn Lodge Hotel (one of the irish court hotels) on the Gort Road in Ennis again this year. This years event is a counting round of both the Dunlop National Rally Championship and the Top Part West Coast Rally Championship. Donie Lyne and the staff at the Auburn Lodge Hotel have again stepped in as the Main Sponsor and after last years very successful event they are hoping to make this years even bigger.
Clerk of the course is Dermot Kelleher from Clarecastle, together with his organising team is offering competitors a very compact event featuring three very competitive stages which will be repeated three times. Together with the service park and scrutiny all within walking distance of the hotel the event should prove to be as successful as last years rally.
The Clare Motor Club are also celebrating thirty years of promoting motorsport in County Clare this year. The Club was founded by three motorsport enthusiasts, Dermot Kelleher, Peter Lariner and Paddy Bradley back in 1980 and after helping out as marshalls, stage commanders, Timekeepers etc for neighbouring clubs, Galway, Limerick and also running the Circuit of Ireland Stage as it went through Clare the Club finally got affilliated to Motorsport Ireland on the 23rd. of February 1982.
Once affialiated the Club members organised their first Single Stage Rally at Darragh/ Ballyea just off the Kilrush Road. This was followed by a Forestry Rally in Bodyke in east Clare, single stage events in the industrial estate in Shannon and Lisdoonvarna, a multi stage rally in Kilkee, a Hillclimb along with Autocross and Autotest events.
The Clare Stages Rally was first organised in 1988 by David Hogan and Dermot Kelleher and was based in the Roslevan Arms on the Tulla Road. The Rally has grown from strength to strength and has become one of the premier events in the Dunlop National Rally Calendar and attracts competitors from all over Ireland and England.
Event regulations will be available to download shortly at the club’s website