Damian Cole and navigator James Morgan led the field away on Saturday morning from the picturesque view of Wexford quay front for the 40th Anniversary of the Riverbank House Hotel Dick Bailey Stages rally. Cole started the event as the current champion and pre-event favourite although he faced stiff opposition in his challenge to do the double. Starting at 2 was local ace’s James Stafford and Amy Ryan aboard their 2.5 Millington engined Darrian T90 GTR. Although conditions were damp at the start, should the roads dry out the Darrian would pose a real threat to Cole’s WRC Focus. Rounding out the top three were Daniel Barry and Gordon Noble who debuted their Mitsubishi Evo X. Other expected to be near the front running pace included Adrian Hetherington, Mickey Conlon, Sebastian Ling and Roy White who had the very rapid MG S2000 at his disposal.
The opening loop was in damp slippery conditions and brought plenty of drama as expected. Cole led as expected and it was Sebastian Ling who was taking the fight to the Focus crew, the yellow Evo seventeen seconds back. Third was the Darrian of Stafford and Ryan although they were having severe traction problems in the damp and greasy conditions. Roy White and Daniel Barry rounded out the top five while Adrian Hetherington and Gary Nolan were another to suffer from the damp conditions, they lay sixth. Early retirements included John Hendy and Enda Kennedy who crashed out at high speed on stage two, thankfully with no injuries while James F Stafford and Richie Codd were another crew to leave the scene in spectacular fashion on the second stage of the day.
The drama continued to unfold on the second loop of stages. By second service it was Ling and co-driver Aled Rees who led the event with a struggling Cole lying in second. The Focus had broken a drive-shaft and the crew were forced to struggle threw stage four and relinquish the rally lead. Also gone was the Darrian of James Stafford and Amy Ryan. The high hopes of a good result and their aim to lift the John Joe Galvin perpetual award were dashed when the Darrian dropped a valve on stage 3. It was a cruel turn of events for the local crew who have never seemed to have had luck on their home event. Roy White with the experienced James O’ Brien on the notes was now up to third and just seven seconds off the lead with Daniel Barry in fourth a further three-seconds back meaning the top four were covered by just 10 seconds! Hetherington had also got the hammer down over the second loop of stages, the bedding in period well and truly over for the green Escort and two third-fastest times moving the Tyrone man clear of Mickey Conlon in sixth. Conlon with Martin Byrne on the notes was having a trouble free notes and he led the leads of class 11, Paddy O’ Dwyer and David Byrne. The Escorts of Shay Power and James Coleman were having a great battle in eight and ninth respectively with the leading Citroen C2 of Scott McElhinney and Karl Reid rounding out the top 10.
On the closing loop of stages, Cole once again powered through to take the lead with his Focus now resumed to full working order. He ended the day 16 seconds clear of Ling who had had a very satisfying day to lie second overnight. He was 16 seconds clear of Danny Barry and Gordon Noble who had taken the shine off their new Evo X on stage 5 when they clipped the rear of the car off the bank and in turn removing its rear bumper. They held just a 2 second advantage over the leading two-wheel drive crew of Hetherington and Nolan. The green Escort had continued its charge on the afternoon stages and it joined the Focus WRC of Cole in breaking the bogey time on the final stage of the day. Only for the bogey they would have been up to third but it had still been a terrific afternoon’s work on the four stages that saw them take a minute out of Conlon and almost two-minutes out of O’ Dwyer in the race of two-wheel drive honours. Conlon was clear in fifth and was having a great run also to lead class 13 and lie fifth while O’ Dwyer and Byrne were also having a great run to lay sixth overall in the 1600 16v Nova and lead class 11. Shay Power and Johnny Rafter were seventh while Scott McElhinney and Karl Reid were now up to eight and ahead of James Coleman and Kaye Shanahan with the Subaru of Mark Nangle and Nollaig Breen rounding out the top ten.
Further hard luck stories included the Super MGS2000 of Roy White retiring with mechanical problems only yards from the finish of stage 6, John Somers and John McGrath dropping two minutes with a punctures having been right on the pace in the early stages while Liam Howlett and Leo Tector were also in trouble on the last stage when they dropped over thirty seconds and out of the top ten.
Day 2 brought more slippy conditions with overnight rain making the early morning stages very tricky. Cole used the advantage of the WRC technology to stretch his lead to forty seconds from Sebastian Ling and Aled Rees although all was not well in the Welsh Evo as an off over the finish line of stage 8 meant there was a lot to do in the first main service of the day. Adrian Hetherington and Gary Nolan were now up to third after Danny Barry and Gordon Noble hit a bank and burst a turbo pipe on the opening stage dropping them two-and-a-half minutes. With this in mind the green Escort crew slackened their pace off considerably, content to hold station and with it leaving themselves in line for the coveted John Joe Galvin memorial award. An overshoot and stall on the second stage however was a reminder that despite their reduced pace, full concentration was still key. Conlon lay fourth and he also so seemed content, a minute back from Hetherington and minute ahead of O’ Dwyer in fifth while the stricken Evo of Danny Barry back in sixth. James Coleman was a man of a charge and he and Kaye Shanahan were up to a fine seventh, not bad considering they had only met for the first time Friday morning! Shay Power and Johnny Rafter were up to eight, ahead of Scott McElhinney who led the C2 chargers with David Condell and Declan Stafford now making their way into the top ten. They lay second in class 14 albeit over three and a half minutes behind Hetherington and Nolan.
Early morning retirements included Liam Howlett and Leo Tector who had an off on the day’s opening stage while Mark Nangle and Nollaig Breen were another crew to disappear from the results on the opening loop of stages.
In the run in to the finish it was status quo at the head of the field. Damian Cole and James Morgan showed a clean pair of heals to take victory on this year’s event. Their winning margin was over a minute-and-a-half from the Evo of Seb Ling and Aled Rees who survived their problems earlier in the day to take a fine second. Third overall, top 2wd and the winners of the much sought after John Joe Galvin perpetual award was sweet reward for Adrian Hetherington and Gary Nolan. Many people had expected the northern ace and his local navigator not to make the finish so it was with much satisfaction for the crew to bring the Kawasaki Green Escort back to the Riverbank in third overall after a wheel perfect drive all weekend. It was particularly sweet for Nolan who fulfilled another long time ambition by lifting the Joe Stafford memorial cup for being the top Wexford navigator.
Daniel Barry and Gordon Noble put on a charge through the afternoon stages and fight their way back up to take a well deserved fourth overall. Mickey Conlon would have taken fourth but for a minutes penalty which seen them drop back to fifth. It was still a fine drive by the blind man from Monaghan and with it class 13 honours. Paddy O’ Dwyer emulated their 2010 result by taking sixth overall and the Lorcan Caufield memorial cup, despite some frustrating brake and gearbox problems on their home Sunday stages. James Coleman and Kaye Shanahan took a fine seventh with Shay Power and Johnny Rafter taking eight overall and were also the very popular winners of the South-East stages championship. Shay and Johnny and two hugely taught of and respected competitors and it was great to see them lift the championship after a fine drive in Wexford. Scott McElhinney and Karl Reid finished 9th and top Citroen C2 although they had to keep an eye out for the fast improving Peter Barrable and Paddy Robinson who took their best result of the year with tenth overall and second in the Citroen C2 championship.
Late retirements included David Condell and Declan Stafford who retired after an off on stage 10. David’s brother George with Lisa O’ Dowd on the notes was another not to make the end in what had been a fine drive on his first outing in class 13, outpacing his brother’s more powerful car on many of the stages. Tommy Kelly and Ray Nash were also not set to see the finish with mechanical problems on the final stage. John Somers had been on another charge but another puncture dropped the local man right out of contention. However it had to be noted that John was really on the pace during the event with a third and fourth fastest stage time to his credit. Another drive of note came from Graham and Thomas Scallan. A last minute hitch with their Escort meant a deal had to be organized pronto and a Mitsubishi Evo9 was sourced. A very clean and quick drive netted them 11th overall and the Padraig O’ Grady memorial cup. And the biggest cheer of the weekend was saved for the winner of the juniors, Leon Galvin and Ger Foley who took the top honours by 20 seconds from the Honda Civic of Padraig and Eoghan McCarthy. In only his third event Leon showed a clean pair of heels and will surely be a force in junior event and indeed class 11 in 2012 and beyond.
Posted: September 16, 2011 8:57 AM
Andrew Leacy & Paul Collins (Toyota Corolla) SS2
George Condell & Lisa O'Dowd (Ford Escort Mk2) SS5
Posted: September 12, 2011 10:31 PM
McElhinney Takes Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland Title with Wexford Win!
Posted: September 11, 2011 9:34 PM
Scott McElhinney has lifted the big prize this weekend as he is now uncatchable in the Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland points table. The Donegal driver scooped 4000€ for the Citroen win in Wexford, and will receive an additional 6000€ Citroen parts voucher for his series win! The title race was expected to go down to the final round in Cork, but a non finish for title challenger Kieran Daly put paid to that. As normal for the Citroen Trophy rounds that wasn’t the whole story. “We knew coming into this event that we really needed to finish in front of Kieran. He was on a wild pace for sure, and it’s hard to keep that pace up too. We had no problems with the car all weekend, and we were probably on the safe side as regards tyre choice and fuel load, and this time it worked out for us.”
Conditions were wet for the opening Wexford stages, and on special stage 1-Forties 1, Kieran Daly and Darragh Mullen posted a flying time of 9 minutes and 5 seconds. It was a time fast enough for second overall in the event, 12 seconds behind Damien Cole’s WRC Focus. It was a superb start for the championship challenger, but on stage 2 the progress went backwards. “It was on a fast junction. There was a puddle on the exit and when we clipped it, we got dragged into the verge. There was a rock in there which broke the wheel and we had to change it.” The time loss was over 3 minutes, and with the wheel fixed they posted fastest C2 times on stages 3 and 4, but coming into service a damaged steering rack needed to be changed. Thanks to Donal Healy and the crew the offending part was replaced with one sourced from local car breakers with seconds to spare as Kieran set out to try and regain positions. “We knew that we had to finish second to Scott to really ensure a championship race in Cork, and we set our sights on second. We had to drive to the maximum and we knew that it would have more elements of risk.” Indeed two splendid 3rd fastest overall times on the dry day two morning tests brought them to within 26 seconds of that goal, but on stage 9, the championship hopes faltered. “We were waiting a little while to start that stage, and the tyres had gone cold. I just got caught out on cold tyres on the first real braking zone. She stepped out before the corner, we corrected that, but when we turned into the corner she stepped out again, and this time we hit the back arm, bending it too badly to continue.” It was all over for Kieran, who had a race against time to make the rally, with an engine just re-fitted to the car after its eventful trip to Oreca in France in the early hours of Friday morning.
Joe Shrimpton and Ciaran Geaney slotted into second behind Scott McElhinney, a position they held to the end of the first day’s six stages, just 36 seconds behind McElhinney. It was so far the best showing for the young driver. Also showing well was Peter Barrable who 23 seconds behind Joe in third, having had a slow start, but getting up to speed. David Carney with Ray Fitzpatrick on the notes too was having his best showing of the season just 10 seconds down on Barrable in fourth place.
An early retirement on stage 2 was Limerick’s Kevin O’Connor with an engine that seemed to be mixing its oil and water. Welsh visitors Steve Wood and Aled Richards were having a ball, and they would finish the event in fourth place after the day two retirements. “We loved every minute of it” commented Steve. “The pace is serious, the welcome was great and now we have finished this one, we are seriously looking at contesting the Cork 20.”
The second day was a formality for Scott McElhinney and co-driver Karl Reid, but they had a scare on the opening stage of the day slipping into a ditch briefing. “It was a bit of a wake-up call!” explained Scott, “It was a second gear left hander that tightened and as we turned around it there was a lot of water across the road. It was like a bottle and two cars running ahead of us had been off the road on it. We slid into the bank and stalled. When we selected reverse, we realised we were between two banks, so we lost about 10-15 seconds.”
There was a great battle for second which Joe Shrimpton held until stage 9, despite a moment on McElhinney’s corner on stage 7. A charging Peter Barrable edged in front having taken time all morning. Joe dropped another place on stage 10 as David Carney edged ahead and into third, and Shrimpton’s fortunes took a tumble. Firstly an engine misfire was costing time. Leader Scott McElhinney kindly lent him his spare throttle body to fit, but on the final stage Joe’s fourth place evaporated when the C2 lost all drive.
In the end Peter Barrable claimed second, just twenty seconds back from Scott McElhinney, with David Carney in third. Peter, David and Joe Shrimpton all showed an improved turn of speed this weekend, and could now be a threat to the front runners in Cork. However with the series sown up the pressure is off for Scott McElhinney. “It’s brilliant to take the series. We weren’t expecting this coming into this round, and it’s been a superb championship. The cars are so evenly matched and that is proven by the closeness of the battle this weekend, with sometimes three cars separated by just a few seconds. Now I’m looking forward to more battles in Cork.”
Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland- Round 5-Results
1 Scott McElhinney/ Karl Reid +2hr08.41s
2 Peter Barrable/Paddy Robinson +20s
3 David Carney/Ray Fitzpatrick +57s
4 Steve Wood/ Aled Richards +7m00s
Points after Round Five- Wexford Stages Rally
1 Scott McElhinney 40pts
2 Kieran Daly 28
3 Joe Shrimpton 14
= David Carney 14
5 Joe McGonigle 12
= Peter Barrable 12
2011 Trition Showers South East Stages Rally Championship Goes to the WIRE!
Posted: September 8, 2011 11:54 AM
Welcome to the final round of the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship. As ever the final round of our seven-event championship is the Wexford Motor Clubs Dick Bailey Stages Rally, which take place over two days of tarmac action. Once again the outcome of the Championship is going to the wire, with an optimistic five crews in a position to taste victory.
Despite the ongoing recession this rally championship is still attracting a competitive field. It’s also helped by the fact that it’s a class-based championship that allows competitors from the six classes, regardless of their budget; the opportunity to win this well fought and contested championships. Whilst some rounds have been a bit bereft of competitors nevertheless there has always been keen competition.
Ignoring the fact that competitors best five rounds count and some crews have competed in six rounds to date and intend going for clean sweep of doing all seven rounds, I’ll record their maximum points and let the mathematical permutations to those who understand sums better than I...
First overall are the class 3 crew of Derek Butler/Diarmuid O’Shea in the ever-reliable Honda Civic on 70 points. This crew has competed on the three forestry rounds and two of the tarmac. They have been fantastic ambassadors for FWD cars encouraging others to the joys of forestry rallying.
Second overall are Shay Power and John Rafter, class 5, Escort MK2. Shay is a previous winner of the South East Stages (years ago) and has an undiminished appetite for rallying on both forestry and tarmac. Non-finishing on the Ravens Rock within a stone’s throw of his house was another disappointment; he shrugged off as part of rallying. Most disappointed was daughter Katie who was navigating as regular navigator (Rafter) was on official duty on the Kilkenny event. Shay and John are just one point shy of the leaders on 69 points.
Third overall is Mick Nevin and Michael Garahy in the ever reliable class 2 Ford Escort MK2. Mick is as ever best described as a multiple winner of the TRITON SHOWERS SES Rally Championship over the years. Forestry or tarmac it’s all the one to this crew. Nothing elaborate or flamboyant, just doings the basics and keeping things simple and well maintained. As there are only two crews registered in the class the points scoring has mitigated against them this year. It’s surprising that they are so far up the leader board at this stage of the championship with 68 points from five rounds.
Just taking a sentence, to remark on the fact that Alan and Jamie Commins are on 67 points. So the leading four are all separated by just one point between each position. There are two further dark horses in the title shoot out that may well have a mathematical chance of being feted as the winners of the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship. More anon.
Class 1. Emmet Cronin/Richie Long, Escort MK2 are well ahead on 30 points. Their usual engine is a real screamer and a feat of modern technology. Happier on forestry but no mean performers on tar either. Colin O’Toole/Francis Kelly are second on 22 points are seem to be concentrating on forestry. Third are another recognised forestry crew, Joe Shinnors/Derry Healy on 17 points.
Class 2. The other lone players in this once very popular class are Pascal O’Shea/Robbie Hennessey on 64 points in the well maintained Ford Escort MK2. Leading the class and enjoying the support of the “parish based” Buckstown Motorsport.
Class 3. Class leaders and a world class-rallying act are Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts, Ford Fiesta on 45 points. Swapping between his brace of Fiestas has probably cost them the championship lead but they have bigger fish to fry in the international rallying arena. Second are Seamus Flynn / Ian Munnelly in the FWD Ford Focus on 44 points. This car and crew are a welcome return to rallying in what could have been the flagship rally car, but for the devotion to the ESCORT MK2. Sharing the points (44) are Douglas Stewart / Billy Ryan in the Peugeot 306. This crew have a great record in forestry but mishaps have marred their tarmac exploits. As an aside it’s fantastic to see the FWD cars to the fore.
Class 4. Class leaders are the family team of Alan and James Commins who alternate between the MK2 and the RWD Peugeot both Pinto powered. Their points tally of 67 lets them with the cusp of lifting the Championship provided they win the class in Wexford and others suffer a hiccup or two over the testing two day event. Second are Sean Benskin/Joe Fitzgibbon on 44 points in the MK2 escort who rarely venture onto tarmac. Third are Paul Quinlan/Tommy Cuddihy also in an Escort MK2 who are scoring steady finishes are comfortably on 41 points.
Class 5. The Dark Horses - James Coleman/Michael Haley and Frank Kelly/Liam Brennan both in Escort MK2’s share the lead on 60 points. Both are very competitive and the will to win is a trait in both drivers. Both also have a mathematical chance of winning the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship, depending on the fate of others, a battle to watch. Third are another crew under the Buckstown Motorsport banner, Johnny Murphy/Martin Nolan in the unusual four door MK2 on 31 points.
Class 6. Ger Connors/Owen O’Neill are well ahead in 55 points. They have missed just one round are well on the way to maintaining the class lead in the Subaru Impreza. Second are Owen Murphy/James O’Brien on 46 points in the forestry spec Mitsubishi Lancer. Third is the Co. Monaghan brothers Vincent and J.P. McAree on 45 points also in their forestry spec Mitsubishi Lancer.
Many competitors in the 2011 Championship support the clubs by competing on their respective rallying disciplines, be it forestry or tarmac. In these recessionary times it is gratifying that so many crews also support the championships that the events count towards. Our prayer is that ‘may they continue to have deep pockets’!! Rallying never was and never will be a cheap sport but the friendships that have been built upon over the years are enduring.
Free entry to 2012 West Cork Rally for winner of the John Joe Galvin Perpetual Cup.
Posted: September 5, 2011 10:50 PM
The Wexford Motor Club is delighted to announce that due to the great sincerity and generosity shown by the Cork Motor Club, the winner of the John-Joe Galvin perpetual cup will receive a free entry into the 2012 West Cork Rally. The John Joe Galvin perpetual cup is in memory of the 17 year old Wexford man who lost his life while travelling to this years West Cork rally. The Wexford motor club and the Cork motor club have always been closely related due to their clubman 2-day format and this gesture buy the CMC is another sign of the closeness that exists within Irish motorsport.
The John-Joe Galvin perpetual cup will be given to the first 2-wheel drive crew overall in the Dick Bailey Stages Rally.
Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland Title Race Hots Up!
Posted: September 5, 2011 10:47 PM
The race for the Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland title is hotting up as the crews head for the penultimate Wexford round this weekend. Championship leader is Scott McElhinney, the Donegal driver accruing 11,000€ in prize money so far this season, and so far this year a staggering 31,500€ has been handed out thanks to this series supported by Citroen Racing and Total. The winner of the championship will receive
a 6000€ Citroen parts voucher, with the best 5 scores to count from the 6 rounds. Second placed Kieran Daly currently would lead if the dropped score was taken into account, but his non-finish in Killarney also means that he cannot afford to non-finish in Wexford or the final Cork 20 round. Both Joe Shrimpton and Joe McGonigle have still an outside title chance if the leaders failed to finish the final two rounds.
However for Kieran Daly it’s currently a race to make the Saturday start of the two-day Wexford Stages event. An engine problem had been discovered in relation to the sump, and with both Citroen Racing, and Oreca’s assistance it was decided to send the engine back to Oreca’s Magny Cours base to remedy the problem. However that was easier said than done! As the engine was due to be crated out from Cork airport, it became inexorably delayed, missing two planes, then travelling to Luton first were it was delayed again, before eventually arriving in France, were to cap it all off it was delayed for another day due to a problem with the airlines freight clearance. With the unit arriving in Oreca late Friday, it was repaired yesterday (Monday) and is due for its dyno run today (Tuesday) before being send back to Cork in time for the rally. This time they cannot afford any delay! Ulster winner Kieran is looking forward to the weekend. “On the Ulster we seemed to do our best times on the smoother stages, and I think the stages in Wexford are generally smooth, so it should suit us.” Scott too is fired up. “I can’t wait to be honest. Yes it will be a head to head between me and Kieran, but there are other guys who could get between us and take points. It’s great when the competition is close like it is this year on the Trophy.”
Kevin O’Connor with his C2 R2 Max is making a return to the series this weekend, and he is rapid when things go his way, whilst David Carney too will be back in action, but Mark Sheahan and Samantha Thom are sitting this one out at the time of press.
A welcome newcomer to the Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland this weekend is Welsh-man Steve Wood, who will have co-driver Aled Richards on the pace-notes. The builder’s merchant from Aberystwyth purchased a C2 R2 Max from Mark Gamble last season, and has contested 6 or 7 events in the car. Prior to that, Steve made his debut in stage rallying in 2009, clinching the Welsh Tarmac 1600 Championship with a Peugeot 206 Cup Car, the same car he used to win the 2008 Welsh Road rally series, were he has enjoyed many seasons. Steve is out to enjoy Wexford and the Citroen series has attracted him. “I would have liked to have contested more events this season, as I have done very little but business pressures have really put paid to that. The reason I went for a C2 over a bigger car, was the fact that the support is so good from Raymond and the team in Charles Hurst. When you order a part, you have it within two days and they are very helpful, so I can’t wait to get over. I don’t have any experience of the Irish stages, although Aled has contested many Irish events, so we will see how we go I guess!”
Indeed it will be all go this weekend for the 40th anniversary Wexford Stages Rally, where the Citroen Trophy runners seeded numbers 14-20 will be mixing it with the capacity entry of both four and two wheel drive machines.
Posted: September 2, 2011 4:48 PM
As always the event depends on marshal for it to proceed. If anybody is interested in marshaling over the weekend, the Chief Marshal and the club as a whole would be very appreciative of your support. Contact 087-2772366 / +353 87-2772366
Wexford Rally celebrates 40 years.
Posted: September 2, 2011 4:47 PM
Billy Coleman, Bertie Fisher, Austin MacHale, Eamon Boland, Stephen Murphy, Frank Meagher. These are just some of the countries top drivers who have tasted success in Wexford over the years on the club’s show piece event, its two-day stages rally. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Wexford rally, now known as the Dick Bailey stages rally is still after all these years one of the top clubmen events in the country. Year after year attracting new entrants from all over the country and overseas, it is a sign that the Dick Bailey Stages Rally is an event that continues to catch the eye. This year, the club has laid on what is definitely thee best value for money tarmac rally in the country. This has seen as we go to press over 130 crews enter this year’s event, a number which many clubs could only dream of matching in the current economic climate. The club is also fortunate to have such a supportive sponsor in the riverbank House Hotel how have contined their association with the event for the 40th anniversary. There is certainly quality aswell as quantity, and with that here’s a run down of this years top entries.
Leading the crews away from the Wexford quay front on Saturday morning will be Damian Cole and his navigator James Morgan aboard their Ford Focus WRC. Damian has been a regular visitor to Wexford and he took top honours in 2010 to become only the third overseas winner of the event. Being the only WRC car to start the event, the current champion will no doubt start as the favourite but is bound to face stiff opposition over the weekend.
At two is the rapid Darrian T90 GTR of local crew James Stafford and Amy Ryan. Now equipped with a 2.5 litre engine, Stafford dusted himself down recently with a superb fourth overall in Galway despite some severe gearbox problems. It would be a brave person to bet against this crew and even if the rain comes, there is no-one braver that Stafford to pilot the fibre-glass panelled pocket rocket over the stages and challenge Cole for victory.
Third over the ramp will be the Mitsubishi Evo X of Enniskerry’s Daniel Barry with the experienced Gordon Noble on the notes. Barry was the winner of the British Evo Challenge in 2009 but his luck seems to have deserted him since then. He was in the top 3 here last year before his retirement and will be keen to get a good result on the event this weekend.
At four is the Kawasaki green Escort of Adrian Hetherington and Gary Nolan. Tyrone man Hetherington is on his first visit to Wexford and the more open nature of the stages generally seen in Wexford should suit the forestry ace. Adrian has had an up and down year with his best results coming on the Tour of the Sperrins rally and the Donegal National. An early retirement in Galway was not the shakedown he and Gary had hoped for but in saying that the crazy green Escort is sure to be pushed hard in their efforts to hang onto the coat tails of Stafford in the battle for top rear-wheel drive and the coveted John-Joe Galvin memorial cup.
Rounding out the top five is the blind man himself, Mickey Conlon with Martin Byrne on the notes. Mickey has been getting quicker and quicker all year and is now seen as one of the quickest Escort pilots in the country. Like Hetherington, this will be Mickey’s first time to Wexford but that will make little difference to him. His John Read Vauxhall engined Escort is one of the most powerful class 13 cars about and Mickey is more that capable of rattling the bigger 2.5 Escort of Hetherington and Condell.
At 6 is the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 of Sebastian Lyng and Aled Rees. Sebastian has tried to do Wexford for many years and hopefully 2011 will see his appearance. He was extremely quick on the Raven’s Rock this year, lying 2nd overall until an off ended his charge. He will be sure to be pushing Group N favourite Daniel Barry hard for top honours and this battle is sure to provide great viewing over the weekend.
The MG S2000 of Roy White and James O’ Brien is at 7. Roy was for many years one of the leading men on the tarmac production trail but 2008 saw a very frustrating year for him aboard his development MG S2000. He has returned this year with his own slant on it and has fitted a new engine and he took 7th overall on the Raven’s Rock rally. With every mile the pace is increasing and don’t be surprised to see Roy and James O’ Brien right at the top end of the time sheets with weekend.
The next of the modified entrants is up next in the shape of John Hendy and Enda Kennedy in there Vauxhall engined Toyota Corolla. Hendy is great to watch and was second overall on the Laois Mini Stages this year. He could have won the event had it not been for a slow start, the resultant charge seeing him whittle eventual winner Condell’s lead down from 34 seconds to just 7 over the final 3 stages. With Enda egging him on over the local stages, Hendy is sure to be in the race for top 2wd.
At 9 is the Laois Mini Stages winner David Condell with Declan Stafford on the notes. David’s pace has been building all year and it seen him take top honours in Laois with Sorcha Kelly on the notes. However an off on the Raven’s Rock has seen him sidelined recently but no doubt he will be expecting to be on the pace of the leading modified men on his return with Declan calling the notes on his local event.
Rounding out the top ten is the first of the class 11 entrants Paddy O’ Dwyer and David Byrne in their Vauxhall Nova. A successful year for the crew aboard their faithful Vauxhall Nova seen them take second in class in West Cork, followed by class wins on both the Raven’s Rock and Stonethrowers rallies. They will start Wexford as class 11 favourites but will face stiff competition from Mark Kennedy and Alan Boggan in the now annual Nova face-off!
Just outside the top ten is Wexford very own Mr. Entertainer Liam Howlett with Leo Tector calling the notes. The Palace man is great to watch as he fires his Escort from lock to lock, and sometimes over it! One can’t help but feel Kieran O’ Neill has a lot to answer for in this case! Liam and Leo have shown that they can mix it with the best when luck stays with them and there’s now doubting that it will be 10/10ths from stage one in their efforts to be top 2wd on their local event.
The Citroen C2R2 Championship is also featured in Wexford and the winner in Ulster Kieran Daly is next on the road and he leads the contenders away from championship table topper Scott McElhinney and Limerick man Kevin O’ Connor. The competition among the 8 C2R2 Max’s is likely to be fierce as the championship reaches its conclusion in Wexford with a double header event over the weekend.
Other locals Wexford crew who will be looking to make a serious impression on the results sheets on this years event include already mentioned Mark Kennedy and Alan Boggan aboard their respective Vauxhall Nova’s, John Somers in his Toyota Celica GT4, the Honda powered Escort of Graham Scallan and last years class 9a winner JJ Wall aboard his spectacular high-revving Citroen C1 kit car. It’s sure to be an intriguing weekend!
The launch of the 2011 Riverbank House Hotel Dick Bailey Stages rally will take place this Thursday September 1st at the Riverbank House Hotel. Along with a static rallycar display, there will be some entertaining videos and on-board footage and there'll be plenty of chat about the ensuing recce weekend and the likely line-up.
Also the motor club is launching a book celebrating 40 years of the Wexford Stages rally. This book will bring back plenty of memories for people who have competed, spectated and marshaled at this classic clubman event over the years. Copies of the book will be limited so to be one of the first to get your hands on one, be sure to get to the Riverbank at the rally launch this Thursday.
The event will take place on the 10th & 11th of September, once again
based in the Riverbank House Hotel, Wexford. There will be 12 stages
over 2 days, so it may be possible to complete recce in a single day.
There will be 2 stages run 3 times on both days.
New for 2011 is a road rally car class. Entry fee for the main
field/historics and road rally class is €560 and juniors is €250, this
can be paid in installments. Juniors will compete on all stages
It may be well over two months away but preparations are well underway for the fortieth running of the Wexford stages rally, now known as the Riverbank House Hotel Dick Bailey stages rally. The event, first won by the legendary Billy Coleman aboard a Renault Alpine is one of the country’s classic clubman rallies and over the years has seen some epic battles on the stages between some of Irelands motorsport legends, drivers like Austin MacHale, Bertie Fisher, Frank Meagher, Kenny McKinstry, Richie Healy and many many more have drove their cars to the limits of adhesion over the model county’s back roads.
As already stated, this year is the fortieth running of the event and the club are making every effort possible to do what it has always set out to do, organise a top class value for money competitor friendly event. This year they have really set out their stall by bringing the entry fee right down to €560 for the anniversary event, an entry fee unheard of for a two-day tarmac rally for many a year. The format is very compact, with two stages being run three times both days with all stages touching almost 20kms in length, the maximum permitted by the rules. This compact route means that a competitor will if they so wish be able to carry out their full recce in one day, although obviously two days are permitted. The event is once again based and sponsored by the Riverbank House Hotel, a continuous association the Wexford motor club are very proud and very appreciative to have. The Riverbank House Hotel have been great supporters of the Dick Bailey stages rally since it took over as the main sponsor and we would ask both competitors and spectators alike to show their support in return.
Wexford has always had many entries from both Northern Ireland and across the water and so to assist crews making the journey, both the event and the prize giving will finish up early on Sunday evening allowing crews to either face into the long haul up north at a reasonable hour or indeed make the late crossing out of Rosslare that evening. And in relation to crossings, the club will soon release details of the prices for the various ferry crossings around the rally weekend so as to help overseas crews with their plans.
There is a lot of interest already in the 40th anniversary event with both last years winner Damien Cole and multiple winner Stephen Murphy both confirming their intention to be at the start line come the second weekend in September. The two-wheel battle this year is sure to provide fireworks with the ultra rapid 2.5 litre Millington engined Darrian’s of John Dalton, James Stafford and Washington James all expected to be in the line up. Added to this the expected return of further overseas pilots such as West Wales Rally Spares front man Gareth Lloyd, Neil Williams, Roger Hicks and Historic Motorsport car preparation expect Mark Solloway and the crowds will be in for a real treat. The Irish brigade will not let them have it their own way as the likes of John Hendy, Sam Smyth and Liam Howlett will all be going at it hammer and tongs to give them a race. This year for the first time all the rear wheel driver crews will be racing for the John Joe Galvin perpetual memorial cup, in memory of the late seventeen year old club member who lost his life while travelling down to compete at this years West Cork rally. It will undoubtedly be the tussle all the crowds will be out to see and the winners will have the privilege of being the first crew to lift the cup.
This year will also see both a historic class and a road rally class complying with MSA rules. This class has generated great interest and is likely to revive sights and sounds of rallying back in the 80’s with Escort’s resembling their more natural form, but still with serious power! And as always for those who overcook it on Saturday, there’s always the Sunday run to aim for!
Further details including regulations and entry forms will shortly be available on the club website . There is bound to be many a tale told come the rally weekend and hopefully this years event will create many more.