As ever the Easter Bank holiday weekend has long been associated with the running of the Circuit of Ireland Stages Rally and this year is no different. All roads lead to Belfast this weekend with the idealic surroundings of the Titanic Quarter proving an excellent backdrop for the running of this titanic event spread over two days. After a ceremonial start on Thursday evening at Belfast City Hall the action on the Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland will start on Friday morning. Over Friday and Saturday the crews will cover 18 stages before they arrive back at the Belfast finish ramp on Saturday evening.
This years event has the added bonus of being a counting round of the ERC (European Rally Championship) which has drawn entries from all over the world. Local interest will be firmly focused on the likes of Sam and Josh Moffett, with Sam and James O’Reilly seeded at number 6 in his Ford Fiesta RRC and following a steady maiden run on the recent Circuit of Kerry they will hope to be on the pace of the more experienced European Competitors. Josh is seeded at number 7 in the EVO 9 and following his 4th place overall on last weekends moonraker forestry rally they too will be hoping for a good battle amongst the top 10.
Stephen and Susanne Wright are seeded right in the heat of the battle at number 20 surrounded by Italian, Polish, Dutch, Czech and Norwegian crews. The Newbliss siblings have a hectic schedule over a 21 day period having been in Belgium last weekend for the second round of the Belgium Championship where the finished second 208 and took the junior driver award. Once the circuit is over they Spanwright/Killyhevlin Hotel backed Peugeot makes a return to Belgium for the 3rd round on the following weekend.
2014 Pirelli Star Driver Daniel McKenna and co-driver Arthur Kierans will make their long awaited competitive debut in the David Greer Motorsport Citroen DS3 R3T this weekend on the Circuit of Ireland Rally. In a departure from the usual black colour scheme, the Pirelli prize drive car will also sport a new, eye catching yellow colour scheme for the upcoming season. It will be an event of firsts for Daniel. It will be his first competitive drive in the Citroen, his first time tackling the Circuit of Ireland, his first taste of the European Rally Championship and it will also be the first time Pirelli’s 17 inch WRC tyre will be used in competition. It’s a lot to take on board but Daniel is looking forward to the challenge that awaits.
Other locals to keep an eye out for include Mervyn Wedlock and Phillip Smith in a honda civic type R whilst Paul Sheridan will once again team up with Enda McNulty in the national section in their class 13 escort. Emmett Sherry will be navigating for Calvin Beattie in a Ford Fiesta R2. Best of luck to all crews competing and full report next week.
Monaghan Motor Club Annual Stages Rally
Monaghan Motor Club held a successful rally launch for their upcoming Stages Rally in the Hillgrove Hotel last Thursday evening. A large attendance gathered to get up close and personal with some of the cars and crews which will battle it out over the 9 stages on Sunday 27th April. CoC for the event is Brendan Flynn and with final preparations well under way and a bumper entry list being issued in the coming days its sure to live up to its billing as one of the biggest sporting events of the year for County Monaghan. As always marshals are needed so if you are available please make contact with any committee member. Full preview of the 2014 Hillgrove Hotel Monaghan Stages Rally next week.
Well done to Derek Mackarel who finished 8th overall on the recent Sligo Autocross. Derek had been 4th overall before conditions dried up, allowing the more powerful car’s to use there advantage but 8th overall and 2nd in class still a great result in his trusty white Nova.