IRC Drivers to the fore on Circuit Easter weekend has become synonymous with the running of the Circuit of Ireland Stages Rally. This year there was the added bonus of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge using this Irish event as the 3rd round of this competitive championship. Indeed it was these pocket rocket S2000 cars, which dominated the circuit from start to finish. Juho Hanninen and Mikko Markkula from Finland had a memorable first visit to Irish tarmac with a 44 second win from Norwegians Andreas Mikkelson and Ola Floene. All the way from the Chez Republic were Jan Kopecky and Pavel Drester to finish 3rd, making it a Skoda top 3 after 15 stages. The Armagh City Hotel was HQ for this high profile event, which had a somewhat party atmosphere as it co-incided with the Titanic anniversary celebrations in Belfast. Indeed stage one of the event was a spectator stage around the newly opened Titanic quarters with the backdrop of the Harland and Wolff cranes providing a spectacular showpiece. There were high expectations of Irelands young guns being able to match the IRC regulars but unfortunately it was a weekend to forget for most of them. First victims were Alastair Fisher and Rory Kennedy who were on a good pace but a small mistake on a fast series of bends on ss6 saw them burst an oil cooler after a spin to end their challenge. Waterfords Craig Breen encountered fuel pump problems, which saw him pick up a minute and a half road penalties to relegate him to 5th o/a at the end. Next up was Robert Barrable and Monaghan’s Damian Connolly, also in an S2000 Skoda in 6th o/a. Robert and Damian set some good times as the weekend progressed but lack of stage mileage probably put them at a distinct disadvantage over the IRC front runners. Sam Moffatt and James O’Reilly were in contention in group N and eventually finished 3rd, just under a minute behind the ever flying Gary Jennings with Donagh Kelly 2nd, just 4 seconds ahead of Sam and James. Josh Moffatt and Domhall Lennon were also punching in good times in the 2nd Combi-lift EVO 9 and finished 4th in class and 13th o/a. Peter Deery was navigating for Armagh’s Sean Agnew in the competitive Citreon C2R2 but they failed to make the finish after featuring in the class placing’s through the first few stages. The Circuit of Ireland was also a counting round of the Irish tarmac Championship, which saw over 60 entrants. Galway winners Darren Gass and Enda Sherry made it another win with a measured drive to finish almost a minute and a half ahead of Eugene Donnelly and Paddy Toner. Eugene was showcasing his familiar WRC Corolla on this event having been 2nd to Gass and Sherry in the Mini WRC in Galway. Derek McGarrity rounded off the top 3 in his Mini WRC. Adrian Hetherinton won the two-wheel-drive category ahead of Drew Stewart with Wesley Patterson 3rd. Early leader, Frank Kelly relieved himself of a wheel on stage 6 to end his rally. Raymond Conlon, with Galway’s Sarah Wheelan on the notes climbed the leader board throughout the weekend to finish 11th o/a in the twin cam. Raymond disappointed that the last of the night stages had to cancelled on Friday night as his night navigation experience gave him great confidence in the dark. Brendan and JP McAree made the short trip North in the immaculate Porche and enjoyed their run to 37th o/a and after a steady run in the historic section. Cootehill father and son team, Gerry and Aaron McIntyre slid their starlet round the Northern stages to 45th over-all. Well done to all finishers and thanks to all the local marshal’s who helped out over the course of the weekend. ULSTER AC DONNELLY GROUP CIRCUIT OF IRELAND RALLY (ROUND 3 OF INTERCONTINENTAL RALLY CHALLENGE): 1 Juho Hanninen/Mikko Markkula (Skoda Fabia S2000) 1h 58m 21.8s 2 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Skoda Fabia S2000) 1h 59m 06.0s 3 Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia S2000) 2h 00m 01.3s 4 Mathieu Arzeno/Renoul Jamoul (Peugeot 207 S2000) 2h 02m 23.4s 5 Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts (Peugeot 207 S2000) 2h 03m 15.6s 6 Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly (Skoda Fabia S2000) 2h 03m 36.3s 7 Sepp Wiegand/Timo Gottschalk (Skoda Fabia S2000) 2h 04m 37.7s 8 Garry Jennings/Barry McNulty (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 2h 06m 49.7s 9 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 2h 07m 33.2s 10 Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 2h 07m 37.8s 11 Martin McCormack/David Moynihan (Citroen DS3) 2h 10m 16.6s 12 Tommy Doyle/Liam Moynihan (Renault Clio R3) 2h 10m 37.1s NATIONAL RALLY (ROUND 2 OF IRISH TARMAC CHAMPIONSHIP): 1 Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 01m 59.5s 2 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Toyota Corolla WRC) 2h 03m 27s 3 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Mini Countryman WRC) 2h 06m 30.2s 4 Steve Perez/Paul Spooner (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 09m 12.9s 5 Adrian Hetherington/Gary Nolan (Ford Escort) 2h 12m 19.8s 6 Wesley Patterson/Martin McGarrity (Ford Escort) 2h 13m 22.7s
Squealing Pig Border Navigation Prize Giving This Friday 13th April marks the annual Squealing Pig Bar & Restaurant Border Navigation Championship Prizegiving. Proceedings will kick off at 8.00pm sharp in the Squealing Pig with meal followed by prizegiving. Final border championship points are available on Monaghan motor club website so check them out; you may just be a winner. If not come along anyway to support this popular championship with a guaranteed night of banter and reminisce about the season gone past. To book tickets please call or text Andy on 087 2558957 Motorsport Ireland National Night Navigation Prize Giving National night navigation prize giving for the 11/12 season past will take place on Saturday 28th April at 8.00pm sharp in the Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise. All award winners are asked to be present or send a representative. Full list of award winners will be available shortly. There will also be an open forum meeting prior to prize giving, this is important as it is a chance for competitors to voice their opinions on all aspects of the sport with a view to improving it for the future.
Open Navigation Meeting Monaghan Motor Club is holding an open Navigation Trial meeting on Wednesday 25th April at 8pm sharp in the Hillgrove Hotel. The function of the meeting is to discuss all aspects of the sport and determine if any suggestions or amendments would improve the full spectrum of the sport. This is an important open meeting so we would ask all competitors and event organisers to attend.
Hillgrove Hotel Monaghan Stages Rally – almost here!! One of the most popular events across Ireland in the rallying colander – the Monaghan Stages Rally, is fast approaching. With only 2 weeks to go, we are yet again in for something special in Monaghan when the cream of Irish rallying will visit the county in their droves. The attraction for man and machine in Monaghan is now well known as the place to come, where real competition takes place. The naturally challenging terrain of our countryside is ideal to test all levels of competitor with their various grades of rally cars and in 2012, we will yet again see some great battles on our door steps. New COC for the event is Dessie Keenan, who has taken on the task of setting out some excellent stages for the drivers and spectators. In 2012, Dessie has brought the event back to north Monaghan and will cover areas such as Tydavnet, Carrickroe, Bragan, Scotstown and Bellanode. Once again, our long-standing sponsor – the Hillgrove Hotel, has welcomed our club and event back to their excellent facilities and throughout the rally weekend the Hotel will be the main hub of all activity. Paper scrutiny will take place here on Saturday 21st April along with Parc Ferme for the rally cars. Mechanical Car Scrutiny also takes place on Saturday at McElvaney Motors on the Dublin Road from 3pm. Official start as usual will be at the front of the Hotel on Sunday morning where an expected 130 rally cars will pass through on their way to the stages. Dessie has kept with the format of 3 stages run 3 times which suits this region and allows for central servicing in the town car park at the back of Fleming’s Super Market. New to this year, is a very challenging 30Klm stage, which will test the stamina of the teams, and indeed tyre choices will become a tactical issue during the day. So keep Sunday 22nd April free for this event, as it is surely an event not to miss!