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Galway International Rally - 3-4 Feb 07

Posted: February 12, 2007 6:10 PM - 61630 Hits

Round 1 - 2007 Tarmac Championship
Round 1 - 2007 Irish Fiesta Sporting Trophy

  • Links to 100's of Photos!
  • Video Clips
  • Tadhg Buckley takes 1st success in the Fiesta SportingTrophy Ireland Series
  • Testing times in Galway for Owen Murphy
  • Grönholm wins Galway Rally in Ireland for BP-Ford
  • Frustrating Galway for John McGlaughlin
  • Third Time lucky for some but not for the Colm Murphy and the MRallying Team.
  • Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen take win after Donnelly/Kiely go off.
  • Results
  • Photos

Photo: Conor Edwards

Posted: February 12, 2007 6:10 PM

Tadhg Buckley takes 1st success in the Fiesta SportingTrophy Ireland Series
Tadhg Buckley today became the 1st winner of the Fiesta SportingTrophy Ireland series on today’s Galway Rally. The 24 year old County Mayo driver made the best of the slippery stages, held in unseasonably sunny weather. Drivers throughout the capacity entry field where battling with tyre choice to find the right balance of grip.

Special stages 9, 12 and 15 of the event where cancelled as a mark of respect for a local resident who passed away late last week. This meant that the 90kms rally turned into a sprint from the start with 21 year old Letterkenny driver Conor Harvey stopping the clocks fastest on SS1; 7:54.3. However the stage was to claim 23 year old, Colin Flanagan as he retired with engine failure in his recently purchased car – the successful history of the chassis which took George Thomas to 2nd in the FST UK series in 2006 not following Colin across the water.

Also displaying ‘battle scars’ at the 1st of the days’ services in Ballinasloe was Enniskillen man William Mavitty, who hit a straw bale at a chicane. William reporting that he had given the bales, ‘a right dung’ damaging the left hand headlight. Despite this, William was 2nd fastest on the 13km test.

After service and an opportunity to adjust tyres and damper settings on the 165hp, class N3 cars, drivers tackled stages 11 and 13 – a total of 30kms. First stage leader Conor Harvey dropped time after running wide at a square left and clipping a wall on the second loop – Conor stating that the choice of BF Goodrich slick front tyres and intermediate rear tyres was making the car unpredictable under braking.

New leader, Tadhg Buckley returned to the Ballinasloe Mart with a 4.6s lead after three stages, reporting no problems, setting the fastest FST time of 11.29.7 on SS11 certainly helping his progress up the leaderboard. 3rd placed driver Alastair Fisher was just 1.6s ahead of Carryduff driver Jonathan Greer after setting fastest FST time on SS13 – 8.00.4. The two drivers both reporting increased confidence and commitment to the slippery Galway stages.

In trouble on stages SS11 and SS13, William Mavitty had a broken joint in the gear linkage system making selection of 3rd gear impossible on down changes. Demonstrating the camaraderie that is already building in the service park, rival teams technicians rallied round to assist William and his team to ensure that they could replace the component and return to battle on the stages.

Out of the rally on SS11, young Dromore driver, Kyle Orr and his experienced co-driver John Henderson’s rally came to a dramatic end after a high speed accident left the ex-Barry Clark Junior World Rally Championship Rookie Championship winning Fiesta severely damaged. Both Kyle and John where transported to hospital for a check-over and later released, bruised but uninjured.

On SS14, a blockage on the stage meant that three drivers Fisher, Harvey and Greer where awarded a notional time of 11.53.4 by the event stewards under normal procedures. This was 19.2s slower than the fastest FST time on the stage of 11.34.2 set by Tadhg Buckley. Good news was that William Mavitty’s gearbox was now working perfectly; however, his time was compromised by having to catch and pass two cars on the stage – a difficult task on the narrow Galway lanes.

After setting his 2nd fastest time on SS16, Conor Harvey arrived in the final service of the rally 11.9s off the lead with it all to play for on the final 17km test.
The final stage, SS17 saw Tadhg Buckley throw caution to the wind, setting his 3rd fastest time of the day; 11:28.7. Conor Harvey by contrast claimed to take no chances, happy to take 2nd place points in the inaugural FST event in Ireland. There was continued drama on the stage however when William Mavitty, his car now restored to full health, caught another car on the stage. This car then crashed in front of them leaving William and co-driver, Mark Ammonds to check all was OK before passing the scene to finish the stage.

Jonathan Greer took 2nd fastest time on the stage by just 0.1s from Conor Harvey, claiming that they had taken “a few too many chances but are here in the end”. Jonathan finished 4th FST driver just 4s behind Alastair Fisher who was happy with the progress made on the day to claim the final podium position. At the Eyre Square finish in Galway City Centre, Tadhg Buckley, 24 year old County Mayo driver claimed: “We pushed really hard on the last stage. I am delighted, over the moon! The car was A1 all day – this is the nicest car I have driven to date!”

Ciara Conlan, Co-ordinator for the FST series in Ireland said: “This has been a great way to launch the FST series in Ireland. The stages have been bathed in early spring sunshine and the spectators have flocked to watch the action. With the added bonus of 7 Ford Focus WRC cars in the Top 10 and of course Marcus and Gareth on the podium in the International Rally, it has been a great weekend for M-Sport, Ford and BF Goodrich. There has been some great close competition from our competitors in the FST series and we look forward to the next round in April!”

Following the same sporting and technical regulations as similar Ford Fiesta SportingTrophy one-make championships in 11 countries around the world, ranging from Norway in the north to New Zealand in the south, the M-Sport promoted series next event is scheduled to be the Circuit of Ireland in April. A number of drivers also taking the opportunity to compete in the UK based series that starts on March 4th with the Malcolm Wilson Stages based at M-Sport’s own headquarters; Dovenby Hall in Cumbria, UK.

1st Tadhg Buckley/Peter O'Toole 59:01.3
2nd Connor Harvey/Tony Mc Daid 59:17.8
3rd Alastair Fisher/Barry McNulty 59:41.9
4th Jonathan Greer/Derek Brannigan 50:45.9
5th William Mavitty/Mark Ammonds 1:01:15.8
6th Paul Quinn/Jason Gilliespie 1:03:08.9

Testing times in Galway for Owen Murphy
Owen Murphy the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman young driver of the year award winner had what could be called at the very least a carachter building weekend at the Galway International Rally.

Owen had expected so much from his new Yokohama Mitsubishi EVO 9 but all was not right with the car from the first stage.

Owen came in off the stages to realise the car just did not want to leave any corner in a straight line. He commented that "it was like driving a Mark 2 Escort"He said "it understeered suddenly, then turned to oversteer and then the back stepped out. We were lucky to get through Saturday, but I knew the only cure was time and patience in getting the set up right."

The service crew made some suspension changes to the car. They changed the settings and by dinner time Sunday his times moved closer to the leading group N runners.

However he lost five minutes on Stage 14 when he caught a rock mid-corner which smashed a wheel three miles into the stage, forcing him to change the wheel in order to complete the stage.

On Stage 16 he set a time that was quickest of all the group N runners. Asked after the event what he thought of the whole Galway experiance Owen said we suffered badly from not having testing done before the event but the positive thing is when i liked the way the car was handling I was able to set competitive times the car is good and by the time the West Cork Rally is over I would hope to be setting good times on the remaining rounds of the Tarmac Championship.

Thanks to our sponsors ,Yokohama, Mac Tyres Ireland ,O'Flynn Construction,Irish Aggregates, O Brien Crowley Accountants , KirkbyTyres, Compomotive Wheels, Mak Tyres Ireland, Permafrost and Carnet.ie. In association with Motorsport Ireland and Cork Motor Club.

Grönholm wins Galway Rally in Ireland for BP-Ford
BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen won the Galway Rally in Ireland today in a Focus RS World Rally Car. The Finns triumphed by 2min 52sec on the two-day asphalt event in the west of the country, and the team gained valuable experience of the Irish speed tests ahead of the country's debut in the FIA World Rally Championship in November.

It was Grönholm's first visit to Ireland for this non-WRC event. He was engrossed in an exciting battle with three-time Irish champion Eugene Donnelly for the entire two-day rally, which comprised 14 speed tests and 210.40km of competition over bumpy, narrow and twisty closed public roads. The special stages were bathed in glorious sunshine, but were still very slippery.

Grönholm led for most of yesterday's first leg, despite two spins, until a puncture on the penultimate test allowed Donnelly to move ahead. The Irishman extended his advantage to a slender 8.8sec during today's second day before Grönholm quickly closed the gap. He slashed the lead to just 1.1sec before the pressure told on Donnelly who crashed off the road and into retirement on the penultimate stage.

"It's a good way to celebrate my birthday," said Grönholm, who is 39 tomorrow. "It's always good to win but the real reason for being here was to learn about the roads and develop a good feeling with the car ahead of Rally Ireland. The roads were totally different to anything I have driven on before, with many blind crests which required total accuracy with the pace notes.

"It was hard for me during the first day but by the end of the weekend I had a good feeling with the car and my confidence had improved. I'm pleased to have come here because the experience was good and the welcome from the Irish fans was unbelievable," he added.

Grönholm was a hugely popular figure throughout the event. Huge crowds packed the stages to watch the double world champion in action and he was besieged by autograph hunters and fans seeking photograph souvenirs wherever he went.

BP-Ford team director Malcolm Wilson said: "We came here to learn as a team and for Marcus to benefit as a driver. We tried various different suspension settings and Marcus finished the event with a good knowledge of what these types of road require. We'll go back and analyse the data but I believe it was well worth the effort of competing here because we have a large bank of information which will assist us greatly when preparing for Rally Ireland."

Frustrating Galway for John McGlaughlin
Fisher Foundation award winner John McGlaughlin had a frustrating start to his season last week, when his Mitsubishi Lancer's gearbox cried enough during the opening leg of the First Choice Flooring Galway International Rally. After just six stages, John reached the end of his bid to secure an armful of points, at what was the opening round of the 2007 Global Group Irish Tarmac Championship.

It was John's first event in the car since November and in an effort to start his championship campaign on the right foot, he entered the rally with the intention of taking no big risks. With County Limerick's Greg Shinnors calling the notes for the first time, the crew emerged just outside the top 10 production category crews after the opening stage.

"I admit I was far too cautious over the first stage," John said, "and we dropped a lot of time. I just wanted to make sure we reached the finish to get some points on the table. I started to settle in over the following test and everything felt good. As the day progressed, our times were getting faster and faster."

John started making progress through the ranks and by the end of stage four, he was eighth in class, despite clipping a rock near the end of the test. The impact destroyed one of the Lancer's Kumho tyres but luckily the crew lost little time with the incident.

Once they reached the end of the stage, John and Greg were forced to change the afflicted wheel before the start of stage five. Unfortunately, the tyre on their spare had a different tread pattern, which left John trying to control a car which had one slick tyre and one intermediate tyre on the front! Incredibly, he still managed to set an impressive time for the stage, finishing just seven seconds slower than the stage winner, allowing him to move into seventh in Group N.

Things were looking up in the McGlaughlin camp and after his service crew changed a damaged hub, the Sunoco Fuels and Greenvale Hotel backed Lancer headed to stage six. Brimming with confidence, John started pushing his Lancer in an attempt to move into the top six. On this occasion, six was not going to be his lucky number.

"Things were going really good," John recalled, "at least they were until I heard a loud bang as I was changing from fourth to fifth gear. It happened near the start of the stage and when I started coming down the box, I realised I no longer had fourth gear. I lost a lot of time over the stage, then during the road section I heard a knocking noise. I pulled in and saw oil dripping from the back of the sump guard. There was a long way to go before next service, so I had no option but to turn the engine off and call it a day."

It was a disappointing end to John's event but the Cookstown driver returned home with the knowledge that he was capable of setting some very competitive times in his Hilltop Fuels and Finlays backed Lancer. The result means the crew have no points to show for their efforts, so John will be aiming for a solid points finish at Easter's Circuit of Ireland Rally.

The 2007 Galway International Rally will be remembered as an all time classic in the annuls of Irish rallying. It will be remembered for the two time World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm and co driver Timo Rautiainen’s winning appearance in the full factory Ford Focus WRC, but equally for the sensational drive by three times Irish Tarmac Champions Eugene Donnelly and Paul Kiely in their new Prodrive built Subaru Impreza S12. Fresh from a third place on the Monte Carlo Rally, professional rally driver Marcus Gronholm was undoubtedly the hot favourite form the word go, but the Galway entry was staggering with twenty seven World Rally Cars including new driver and car combinations such as Mark Higgins- Subaru S11, Kevin Lynch- Ford Focus 05 WRC, Gareth Jones- Ford Focus 05 WRC and Gareth MacHale- Ford Focus 06 WRC, and of course Eugene in his Subaru S12. Familiar combinations expected to go well were Eamonn Boland- Ford Focus 05 WRC and Tim McNulty- Subaru S11.

After three very successful years in the Toyota Corolla WRC, with big support from Esker Bus and Coach and the other sponsors, Eugene moved into a Prodrive built S12 Subaru. After launching the new “silver roller-skate” at the Autosport show in January, the team engaged in a two day test on the week leading up to the rally.
“We have a lot of new things to learn about the car and team, and on the first day of testing it was mainly my engineer Derek McGeehan and brother Charlie who drove the car. The boys did a fantastic job working with Eddie Corr from Prodrive, and the three of them worked really hard on things such as ride heights and came up with a very good setting before I even stepped into the car. It meant that I felt confident straight away in the car and immediately it felt a good car. We had many discussions with Kumho over the tyre compounds and patterns throughout the week, but I have to say that we didn’t expect to be any were near the pace of Marcus in our first rally in the Subaru.” On the first special stage Eugene was surprised to find himself just six seconds shy of the two times World Champion and thirteen seconds ahead of the next challenger Gareth MacHale. “To be honest I was a little surprised at the time on the first test. I had felt that the back of the car was too soft, but looking back on it now, that was actually part of the reason why we were getting grip and getting the tyres to bite in.” By stage three Eugene was only eight seconds behind the factory Ford outfit, over to test for Rally Ireland in November.

But Marcus made a couple of errors and coupled with some superb driving in the Esker Subaru, by stage seven Eugene and Paul held a twelve second lead, Marcus having lost a little time with a puncture, but Eugene carried a five second advantage over Marcus going into the overnight halt.
“To be honest I spent a lot of time sliding the car at junctions and things on day one, just to get more of a feel for it, but on day two I concentrated on keeping it neater and tidier to carry the speed through the corners” quipped Eugene. But how did it feel to be leading a two time World Rally Champion. “We had a beer with Marcus on Saturday night and discussed the day and the rally, as I didn’t get talking to him much during the day with him running first on the road and me running fifth. On the second day we swapped stories a lot and a few hints about set up for these roads, whilst Marcus’s gravel crew and ours also exchanged information, so it was all friendly banter.”

With one stage lost due to a tragic death in the area, there would be only six special stages to decide the Galway Rally. The atmosphere was electric as the crowds appeared in their tens of thousands to cheer on their heroes. Support for the Esker Subaru was audible as it was first down the opening days test. But Marcus Gronholm had made some adjustments to the Focus and snatched three seconds back off Eugene on the opener, but the Maghera driver sensationally replied on the next test taking five seconds off Gronholm, and a full seventeen seconds off third placed man Gareth MacHale to leave Eugene with a seven second advantage.

The fans could hardly believe it as the Subaru trundled into the Ballinasloe service area for routine maintenance. Again Eugene attacked on stage thirteen and took a further second off Marcus, the huge crowd egging them on from every vantage point, but on stage fourteen the team’s fortunes took a down turn. “
I think I fluffed the launch control slightly and the car stalled, so we had to restart manually losing at least six seconds. But when we got up and going fourth gear was also getting very noisy so we were starting to get worried. We dropped eight to Marcus and radioed the service crew at the end of the stage. Basically they told us to avoid fourth gear as much as possible.”

One of the world’s top drivers Marcus Gronholm and the might of the Ford Motor Company one second behind you could have forgiven Eugene for cruising home, but as a true competitor he battled on into the penultimate stage at Eglish. Early split times were looking good but it all went wrong for the team near the end of the stage.
“I was concentrating on just driving the car, trying not to worry about Marcus and we came into a slow right hander which we usually take in third or fourth, I braked early and shifted down to third to save fourth. In doing that however I must have taken my eye of the road for a split second and just missed the apex of the corner, and we slid wide and off into a hedge resting against a tree. The car is not too badly damaged but I was absolutely gutted and still am.”

It was the first self inflicted crash that has put the team into retirement since the 2003 Circuit of Ireland, a rare mistake, but many felt a point had been proven. Marcus Gronholm went onto win adding Galway to his list of 25 World Rally wins, with Gareth MacHale three minutes back in second in what was his first rally in left hand drive. Marcus for his part at the end of the event commented.
“It was a difficult rally but we learned a lot. It was good to have Donnelly push me. It was sad for him to go off, he was driving well.”

Eugene cannot wait for the next round, the Circuit of Ireland at Easter, an event he won for the first time last season.
“I don’t know whether to believe that was full WRC pace in Galway, and I know we still have a lot of improvements to make to the car before the Circuit, but we have some time now to get things sorted. I really enjoyed the car in Galway, it was fabulous and once again we have a great team behind us, great tyres from Kumho and of course enthusiastic sponsors like Esker, Reid Transport and Modern Tyre Service who help to get us to the start line.”

There is no doubt as Eugene was instantly awarded the Galway Bay FM sports award, that the new Subaru equipped team caused a sensation in Galway, in a car at World Championship level that struggles to beat the Ford’s on tarmac, and also that the Ford team were trying 100%, as it is the only way to test a car at the limits

Third Time lucky for some but not for the Colm Murphy and the MRallying Team.
Last weekend saw the 2007 Galway International Rally take place. Eyre Square in Galway was alive and kicking on Friday night with the spectacular ceremonial start.

Colm and the Team were back again to try and retain their production title from 2006. Colm and Ger have dominated the Galway International Rally over the last too years. 2007 witnessed one of the best displays of automotive machinery that would make any WRC event proud. Not alone was the machinery fantastic but the participation of Marcus Gronholm a former 2 time world champion and runner up in 2006 WRC championship.

For Colm and Ger it was down to business on Saturday morning. A new partner to the team was announced. “Hankook” would take up the mantle of providing the tyres that will hold the Thermia backed Subaru to the road for 2007. Saturday was a nerve racking day as the duo had never run on the Hankook tyres before. With 2 loops of 3 stages and 1 loop of 2 stages the pressure was on. The first three stages were consistent and concluded with the MRallying pair in the top 3. But stage 4 provided the team with a devastating blow, a puncture at the start of the stage meant they had to pull over and change the wheel. This unscheduled stop resulted in a 3-4 minutes time loss, and in rallying that can be equated to almost a life time. But not all was lost, stages 7 and 8 would see Colm and Ger post fastest times, testament that the Hankook tyres are definitely a force to be reckoned with. The team were also getting to know the characteristics of the tyres and how to adjust them to the Galway terrain.

Sunday, day 2 of the Galway rally started with Colm and Ger in 7th place. 6 stages remained with a very tall task to try and catch up with the 6 competitors ahead and in Rallying anything can happen. But a spin on stage 10 as a result of some ice did not make the task any easier. Stage 11 would see Colm and Ger post their 3rd fastest stage time. Before the day would conclude Colm and Ger would add 2 fastest times to their tally, bring to a total of 5 fastest times in this years Galway rally. If not for the puncture it may have been 3 in row consecutive victories for Colm and the MRallying team in Galway. Talking to Colm after the event he said “this weekend was a real challenge, it would have been nice to get a 3 in a row here, but the puncture put and end to that, I guess that is the joys of rallying. But on a more positive note I found the Hankook tyres to be brilliant. They really surprised me and I think they have an awful lot more to offer. Time will tell and I will be working with Hankook to ensure that the best is delivered. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all my sponsors without them this could not happen. In particular Trackcare Eng and Connemara Gateway Hotel, they were on hand this weekend and offered assistance when really needed thank you Mike, Denis and Eoin! I would also like to thank the guys from Pitlane you worked with me and Mike Patterson (Hankook) to getting to grips with the Hankook tyres”.

Colm, Ger and the MRallying team would like to thank all their sponsors, with out them it would not be possible to compete. Sponsors: thank Wood Town Plant Hire, Shell, Hankook, Heat Link, Thermia, Track Care, Transplant, MSP, Speedline Corse, Remax, The Gables Bar Athea, The Connemara Gateway Hotel, Murray Motor Sport for Lico, Eddie Garry Car Sales, Advance Surveys, Sign Lynx, and Vanity Case Beauticians.

1 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC)
2 Gareth MacHale/Paul Nagle (Ford Focus WRC)
3 Mark Higgins/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
4 Eamonn Boland/Francis Regan (Ford Focus WRC)
5 Kevin Lynch/Gordon Noble (Ford Focus WRC)
6 Stephen Murphy/M.J. Morrissey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
7 Patrick Elliott/Paul Goodman (Subaru Impreza WRC)
8 Michael Barrable/Dermot O'Gorman (Ford Focus WRC)
9 Austin MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
10 Ray Breen/Damien Morrissey (Ford Focus WRC)


SS1-6 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC)
SS7-15 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS16-17 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC)
Stage Winners
SS1 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC)
SS2 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC)
SS3 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS4 Mark Higgins/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS5 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC)
SS6 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC)
SS7 Gareth MacHale/Paul Nagle (Ford Focus WRC)
SS8 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC)
SS9 Cancelled
SS10 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC)
SS11 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS12 Cancelled
SS13 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS14 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC)
SS15 Cancelled
SS16 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC)
SS17 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC)

Leading Retirements
SS17 Gareth Jones/David Moynihan (Ford Focus WRC) - Accident
SS16 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiley (Subaru Impreza WRC) - Accident
SS4 Tim McNulty/Anthony Nestor (Subaru Impreza WRC) - Mechanical
SS3 Jon Ingram/Hllsop Ian (Subaru Impreza WRC) - Accident
  • Greenville stage on Sunday (SS 9, 12 & 15) will not run
  • Revised Time and Distance Schedule for Sunday
  • MacHale’s new Focus on Galway
  • Programme Outlets
  • 9 Crews for opening round of Fiesta SportingTrophy IE
  • Shakedown - No Spectator Access
  • Reserve List available
  • Entry Lists Released
  • A New Challenge for Owen Murphy. - EVO 9 for Galway and Tarmac Championship
  • Entry list to release at the weekend.
  • Austin MacHale entered in Galway
  • Rally Programmes
  • Revised Time and Distance Schedule
  • “Gronholm for Championship opener in Galway”
  • Top Class entry for Galway
  • RALLY LAUNCH - (Tue) 16 Jan 07
  • Marshal Training Nights
  • Mark Higgins enters Galway in S11
  • Gronholm and MacHale enter for M-Sport.
  • New Headquarters
  • Regulations available
  • Prelimerary Details

As a mark of respect to the late Mairead Meehan, the Greenville stage has been cancelled.
Stage 9/12 and 15 will not be run. 6 stages only on Sunday. Saturday is not affected.

MacHale’s new Focus on Galway
The advertisement might have read:  “2006 Ford Focus, one careful owner, full service history.”  Enough enticement for Gareth MacHale and Paul Nagle to seize the opportunity to compete in the M-Sport prepared 2006 Ford Focus WRC that gave former World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm  four winning Championship rounds last year.

 “We’re delighted to be the first private team to receive one of these cars from Ford M-Sport,” said Gareth.  “We know what it’s capable of and what we have the potential to achieve with it, and are thrilled to be having our first competitive drive with the new car here at The Galway International Rally.”

The team see the event as an opportunity to come to grips with the left-hand drive car in which they will contest eleven rounds of the World Rally Championships, the next event being Mexico on 9th March.  It was here in 2006 that MacHale scored his first ever WRC points, the first Irish competitor in over twenty years to do so.

Despite being seeded second behind hot favourite Gronholm, expectations of a podium finish this weekend are a minor consideration.  “We only plan on doing two round of the Irish tarmac championships this year, so we’ll be putting our energies into getting the feel right, testing the car’s responses, and having the crew get to grips with the step up from the previous vehicle, “ said Paul Nagle.

MacHale has also scored a coup in sponsorship for Irish rallying, securing a deal with American outfit White Oak Premier Resort in North Carolina.  An indication, he says, of growing international interest in Ireland’s entry into the WRC which will see the world’s top rally drivers compete in Rally Ireland in November this year.
Garry Jennings will begin an assault on the Irish tarmac Championship on the Galway International Rally this coming weekend.

The businessman from Kesh in County Fermanagh won the Group N category in the series in 2005 but chose to concentrate on work and only contested selected events in 2006.

He admits that his inclusion in the event wasn’t a difficult one, “Galway is definitely an event not to miss, particularly as Marcus Gr?lm is using it as a test for Rally Ireland, another event I am very keen to do. Unfortunately the funds won’t stretch to world rally machinery for Galway, so I’ll be back at the wheel of the black Group N Evo 9 with another familiar face alongside.”

He is joined by Enda Sherry again after our excellent third overall in Ulster in 2006 and hopes they can pick up where they left off. He joked, “I think a podium is a little bit optimistic against 28 world rally cars!”

His 2006 plans include a trip across the sea for Rallye Sunseeker as the first round of the ANCRO and Evo Challenge Championships also in the Mitsubishi. Garry explains, “Kumho feature very strongly in our plans and I’d like to thank them and all my sponsors from 2006 for their continued support. It is as a result of a very persuasive discussion I had about tyres that we are going to the Bournemouth event in February. I have registered for both championships and I suppose you could say that I’m hedging my bets.”

Closer to home the Galway International Rally begins on Friday evening with a ceremonial start at 8pm. The event then begins I earnest on Saturday at 8.30am with 75 miles of asphalt rallying before an overnight halt back in Galway. Sunday brings another 85 miles of competitive stages before the finish at 6pm.

The team would like to thank its sponsors: Kumho Tyres, JMB Enterprises, Autocar Logistics, Walker Contracts, Sligo Pallets, Sydare Eggs, Euro Auto Salvage, OMP, Shell Racing Fuels, Performance Friction Brake Pads, Fyth Homes and Pettigo Diesel Services for their continuing support.

Programme Outlets
Programmes will be on sale on Wednesday January 31st in the following outlets.

The Clayton Hotel ( Rally HQ)
O’Briens Newsagents, Galway
Hollands, Eyre Square, Galway
Xpress Shop, Monivea Road, Galway
Esso, Tuam Road, Galway
Esso, Ballybrit, Galway
GMIT Students Union
Texaco, Oranmore
Glynns Centra, Carnmore
Day Today, Carnmore Cross
Londis, Top Service Station, Tuam Road, Galway
Spar, Claregalway
Statoil, Headford Point
Texaco/Centra Service Station, Galway Road ,Tuam
Monaghons, Headford
The Trading Post,Headford
Corrib Oil, Loughrea
Loughrea Service Station,
McCormacks Statoil, Loughrea
Conroys Emo, Craughwell
Statoil Craughwell
Somers Athenry
Concannons, Killimor
Mahons, Tiernascragh
Flahertys, Ahascragh
Howleys Gort.
Gillanes, Cloon
Burkes, Kilcolgan
Quinn Statoil, Labane
Ashtree Stores, Ballinasloe
Dolans Esso, Dublin Road, Ballinasloe
Texaco, Galway Road, Portumna
Statoil, Bridge Road, Portumna
Salmons Newsagent, Patrick Street,Portumna
The Ferry Service Station, The Bridge, Portumna

9 Crews for opening round of Fiesta SportingTrophy IE
Round one of the Fiesta SportingTrophy IE, the Galway Rally on Sunday 4th February 2006 will see nine registered crews competing for success on the 136kms of stages around the Ballinasloe area. Starting from Galway City at 08:30, crews will tackle nine stages in total, combined with three service halts throughout the day.

The finishing ceremony will take place in Eyre Square from 18:10 where the winner of round one of the Fiesta SportingTrophy IE will be crowned.

The registered crews for Galway are:

FST 1 - Alastair Fisher, 18 from Trillick, Co. Fermanagh. Co-driven by Barry McNulty. Alastair was the 2006 class three champion in the Northern Ireland Rally Championship and finished eighth Fiesta on the 2006 Jim Clark Rally. Alastair and Barry will compete on both Irish and UK championships this year.

FST 2 - Conor Harvey, 21 from Letterkenny, County Donegal. Co-driven by Tony McDaid. Conor is new to the Fiesta having driven an N2 car in the Tarmac Championship in 2006, the best result being a class win on the Ulster Rally.

FST 3 – William Mavitty, 22 from Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. Co-driven by Mark Ammonds. William brings his experience of competing in the FST UK series in 2006 where he scored his best result on the Pirelli National Rally, finishing seventh Fiesta.

FST 4 – Jonathon Greer, 18 from Carryduff, County Down. Co-driven by Derek Brannigan. Jonathon also competed in FST UK 2006, finishing seventh overall for the season with his best event score being second on the Swansea Bay Rally.

FST 5 – Tadhg Buckley, 24 from Ballyhaunis, County Mayo. Co-driver Shane Buckley. Tadhg moves to the Fiesta series from the National Championship, having finished second in class six in 2006.

FST 6 – Shane Feely, Co-driven by Jim McGrath.

FST 7 – Colin Flanagan, 23 from Boyle, County Roscommon. Co-driven by Marita McQuaid. Colin has previous experience driving Fords to great success in 2005 winning his class on the West Coast Rally Championship and the Midlands East Championship and finishing second in class in the National Championship in a 1400cc GpA Ford Puma.

FST 8 – Paul Quinn, 19 from Dungannon, County Tyrone. Co-driven by Jason Gillespie. Paul brings his experience in a Fiesta ST having competed in the Northern Ireland Championship in 2006.

FST 9 – Kyle Orr, 18 from Dromore, County Down. Co-driven by John Henderson. Kyle, the 2006 Junior Rallycross Champion, is taking the opportunity to short-cut his relative lack of stage rally experience by competing in both the UK and Irish FST series in the successful ex-Barry Clark Stobart-backed car that won the FST International in both Finland and Rally GB.

Malcolm Wilson, of championship promoters M-Sport said, “Ireland is a hugely important market for M-Sport and arguably the most competitive national series in the world. After the success of the UK series in 2006 and that fact that we had six drivers from this region in the UK series, the Irish version was a natural progression. We are delighted with the response in such a short period of time and look forward to close competition in the series.”

Ciara Conlan, co-ordinator for the series remarked, “The number of Irish competitors travelling to various UK based one-make championships over the years proves that there is a market for such a series in Ireland. The mix of competitors in the FST IE this year will ensure an interesting season and we are really looking forward to seeing how our registered crews develop over the course of the season.”

There is no Spectator access at the Shakedown Stage.
The location and times of the Shakedown stage are not being published by the Motor Club.
Reserve list available on the Event Website:
Entry Lists Released
Car Driver/Navigator (Make Model) [Class]

1 Gronholm, Marcus/Rautiainen, Timo (Ford Focus WRC 06) [8]
2 MacHale, Gareth/Nagle, Paul (Ford Focus WRC 06) [8]
3 Higgins, Mark/Kennedy, Rory (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
4 Boland, Eamonn/Regan, Francis (Ford Focus WRC) [8]
5 Donnelly, Eugene/Kiley, Paul (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
6 Machale, Austin/Murphy, Brian (Ford Focus WRC) [8]
7 McNulty, Tim/Nestor, Anthony (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
8 Lynch, Kevin/Noble, Gordon (Ford Focus WRC) [8]
9 Jones, Gareth/Moynihan, David (Ford Focus WRC) [8]
10 Hurson, Peadar/Connolly, Damien (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
11 Elliott, Patrick/Goodman, Paul (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
12 Breen, Ray/Morrissey, Damien (Ford Focus WRC) [8]
14 Murphy, Stephen/Morrissey, Michael Joe (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
15 Ingram, Jon/Ian, Hllsop (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
16 Barrable, Michael/O'Gorman, Dermot (Ford Focus WRC) [8]
17 Doherty, Martin/Cullen, Andrew (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
18 Fleming, John Joe/Robbie, Ward (Ford Focus WRC) [8]
19 Davies, Tony/Walsh, Patrick (Subaru Impreza WRC S9) [8]
20 Cullen, George/Kelly, Jakes (Subaru Impreza WRC S9) [8]
21 Dohery, Hugh Martin/McBride, Michael (Ford Focus WRC) [8]
22 Murphy, Colm/McLoughrey, Ger (Subaru Impreza N12) [4]
23 Jennings, Gary/Sherry, Enda (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
24 Leonard, Seamus/McVeigh, Gerry (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
25 White, Roy/McAuley, Stephen (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
26 Foley, James/Tba, (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
27 McGlaughlin, John/Shinnors, Greg (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
28 Fannin, Willie/Courtney, Mick (Subaru Impreza N12) [4]
29 Kelleher, Kevin/Kelleher, Martin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
30 McCarrick, Noel/O'Donnell, Eugene (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
31 Devine, Seamus/Casey, Stephen (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
32 Raftery, Darragh/Tba, (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
33 White, Paddy/Stewart, Grainne (Ford Focus WRC) [8]
34 McCarthy, Luke/Hogan, David (Ford Focus WRC) [8]
35 Bird, Mike/Keane, Kevin (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
36 Cullen, James/Harryman, Alan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
37 Donoghue, Kevin/O'Leary, Joe (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
38 Cronin, Keith/Connell, Anthony (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7) [4]
39 Murphy, Owen/Nolan, Garry (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [3]
40 Quinn, Graham/Costell0, Martin (figgy) (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
41 Cathers, Trevor/Wilson, Dessie (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
42 Oreilly, Ollie/Kierans, Arthur (Ford Escort G3) [13]
43 Ballantine, Stanley/Hyland, Richard (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.5) [4]
44 Daly, Eamon/Young, John (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
45 Reid, Shaun/McAuley, Damien (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
46 Harris, Gavin/Lafferty, Shaun (Subaru Impreza) [4]
47 Holton, Tom/Kenny, Francis (Toyota Celica) [15]
48 Courtney, Mark/Tba, (Toyota Celica) [15]
49 Gallagher, Paul/Reid, Karl (Toyota Corolla) []
50 McGee, Martin/Crawford, Damian (Ford Escort) [13]
51 Hallinan, Enda/Ward, Ollie (Honda Civic) [2]
52 McDermott, P.j./Harris, Sean (Subaru Impreza WRC S9) [8]
53 Price, Pat/O'Connor, Seamus (Subaru Impreza N12 B) [6]
54 Purtill, Paul/Lyons, David (Ford Escort) [11]
55 O'Mahoney, Brian/Higgins, John (Renault Clio S1600) [6]
56 Bushe, Andrew/Tba, (Citroen Saxo) [6]
57 Spain, Pat/McMahon, John C. (Ford Escort Mk2) [13]
58 Ward, Martin/Conroy-ward, Linda (Ford Sierra) [14]
59 Brogan, Brian/Friel, Joe (Ford Escort) [13]
60 Drury, Raymond/Lennan, Domhnall (Ford Escort Mk2) [14]
61 McElhinney, Gary/Charlesson, Johnny (Ford Escort Mk2) [14]
62 Flanagan, Sean/Millar, Brian (Subaru Impreza) [4]
63 Dempsey, Paul/Tba, (Subaru Impreza N9) [4]
64 Kelly, Pat/Flynn, Martin (Subaru Impreza) [16]
65 Nolan, Enda/Lyster, Michael (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
66 McEnroe, Paul/Healy, Ger (Subaru Impreza) [4]
67 McElhinney, Adrian S./McMenamin, Martin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6) [4]
68 Elliott, Paul/Brady, Martin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
69 Curley, Tom/Horan, Paul (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [16]
70 Meegan, Eugene/Powell, Stuart (Honda Civic) [3]
71 Cunningham, Martin/Cunningham, Jonathan (Honda Civic) [11]
72 Reddington, John/Muldoon, Ed (Ford Escort Mk2) [13]
73 James, Ceiros/Kiely, Patrick (Opel Manta) [13]
74 Haliday, Tom/Tba, (Ford Escort Mk2) [12]
75 Morris, John/Sylver, Declan (Ford Escort Cosworth) [15]
76 Callanan, Pat/Sheil, Kenneth (Honda Civic Type R) [3]
77 Melia, Brian/Tba, (Honda Integra) [3]
78 Cahill, Tom/Conneely, Philip (Honda Integra) [7]
79 Gormally, Tom/Forde, Ross (Honda Civic Type R) [3]
80 Byrne, Connor/Byrne, Niall (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [4]
81 McBride, Danny/McElhinney, John (Mitsubishi Lancer) [4]
82 Muldoon, Tomas/Tba, (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8) [4]
83 Tourish, Damiem/Tba, (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6) [4]
84 Dolan, Willie John/Doherty, Brian (Subaru Impreza) [4]
85 O'Keeffe, Brian/Moroney, Sean (Subaru Impreza N10) [4]
86 Stafford, James M/Ryan, Amy (Ford Escort Mk2) [13]
87 Pierce, Neil/Oleary, Enda (Honda Civic) [11]
88 Carty, Mike/Breen, Craig (Honda Civic Type R) [3]
89 McHugh, Sean/Gannon, Aiden (Subaru Impreza) [16]
90 Conlon, Michael/Boyle, Adian (Ford Escort Mk2) [13]
91 Moran, Robert/Cleary, Mike (Ford Escort) [11]
92 McMonagle, Garret/McGuire, Mark (Honda Integra Type R) [7]
93 Hayes, Billy/Doheny, Pierce Jnr (Honda Civic Type R) [3]
94 McKenna, Brian/Curley, Cian (Toyota Celica GT4) [15]
95 Mulholland, John Gerard/McGlade, Dessie (Skoda Fabia) [8]
96 McDaid, Paddy/Lunn, Timmy (Honda Civic) [2]
97 Hodgins, Gerard/Forde, Patrick Jnr (Ford Escort) [14]
98 Randles, David/Duggan, Con (Nissan Almera) [7]
99 McGreal, James/Loughney, Michael (Subaru Impreza) [4]
100 Burke, John/Ryan, Kim (Peugeot 206) [6]
101 Cunningham, Micheal/McInerney, Charlie (Ford Escort Mk2) []
102 McBride, Adrian/Hicks, Rodney (Peugeot 206) [6]
103 O'Brien, Tommy/Synott, Kevin (Honda Civic) [11]
104 Quigley, David/Feeney, Derrick (Honda Civic EK4) [11]
105 McHugh, John/Gallagher, Declan (Toyota Corolla) [11]
106 Gilleece, Raymond/Gilleece, Sean (Honda Civic Type R) [3]
107 Forde, Colm/Trill, Johathan (Peugeot 206) [6]
108 Brogan, Ciaran/Tba, (Ford Escort) [12]
109 Forde, Declan/Ollerenshaw, Jason (Ford Escort) [10]
110 Hynes, Ian/Sherlock, Des (Honda Civic Type R) [3]
111 Duggan, Timothy/Tba, (Seat Ibeza) [7]
112 Conneely, Johnny "disco"/Davey, Aidan (Ford Escort Mk2) [11]
113 Folan, John/Ollerenshaw, Paul (Ford Puma S1600) [6]
114 Cremhish, John/Waltkins, Nicholas (Subaru Impreza) [4]
115 McDonagh, Ger/Lee, Kenneth (Honda Civic) [16]
116 Conneely, Jarlath/Casserly, Declan (Honda Civic) [16]
117 Gamble, Andrew/Vaughan, Mark (Nissan Micra) [5]
118 Brett, James/Crotty, Patrick (Honda Civic) [16]
119 Ruth, John Paul/Kelly, Sorcha (Peugeot 206) [7]
120 Callanan, Dermot/Conneely, Michael (Honda Civic) [11]
121 Murphy, Kieran/Grimes, Aisling (Ford Escort) [10]
122 Cogan, Edward/Shannon, Tony (Peugeot 205) [13]
123 Browne, Andrew/Sheridan, Barry (Peugeot 205) [12]
124 Stafford, James Francis/Codd, Richie (Peugeot 205) [12]
125 O'Grady, Seamus/Collins, Billy (Peugeot 205 GTi) [12]
126 Kehoe, Simon/Kennedy, Enda (Peugeot 306) [7]
127 Kelly, Aiden/Brisco, Ollie (Peugeot 205 GTi) [10]
128 Greaney, Maurice/O'Boyle, Mike (Honda Civic) [11]
129 Stewart, Andrew/Gallagher, Tony (MG ZR) [5]
130 Connolly, Brian/Tba, (TBC TBC) []
131 Lenehan, Joseph/Gibbons, Alan (Honda Civic) [9]
132 Kinneavy, Ronan/Callanan, Padraic (BMW M3) [14]

H1 Cunningham, Frank/Forde, Arron (Ford Escort Mk1) [C2]
H2 Farrell, John/Shiels, Enda (Ford Escort Mk1) []
H3 McCormack, Martin/Tba, (Ford Escort Mk2) []
H4 Treacy, Sean/Regan, Billy (BMW 2002) [C2]
H5 Flanagan, Kevin/Wall, Patrick (Austin Cooper S) [C1]
H6 Johnston, Mervin/McBride, Geraldine (Austin Cooper S) [B2]
H7 Devine, Mike/Treacy, Kevin (Ford Escort Mk2) [C2]
H8 Frontinan, Vincente/Hackett, Michael (Austin Mini) [B2]
H9 Creighton, Niall/Roberts, Gregory (Ford Escort RS) [B3]
H10 Sheil, Tom Joe/Tba, (Ford Escort) [C1]
H11 O'Shea, Jack/Duggan, Tara (Austin Mini) []
H12 Todd, William/Campbell, Nigel (Austin Mini Cooper S) [B2]
H13 Keane, Niall/Henaghan, Sean (Hillman Avenger) [C1]
H14 Kerlin, Philip/Anderson, Noel (Austin Cooper S) [B2]
H15 Stewart, Ernest/Tba, (Hillman Avenger) [C2]
H16 Dalton, Alan/Dalton, Kiernan (Hillman Imp) [B1]

J1 Cunningham, Patrick/O'Brien, Shane (Honda Civic) [J2]
J2 Stafford, John/Kennedy, Anne-marie (Vauxhall Corsa) [J1]
J3 McBrearty, Declan/Furey, Steven (Toyota Corolla RWD) [J2]
J4 Friel, Aidan/Tba, (Honda Civic) [J2]
J5 Price, Richard/Tba, (Honda Civic) [J2]
J6 Doherty, Niall/Tba, (Peugeot 206) [J2]
J7 McKenna, Darren/McKenna, Nicloa (Toyota Corolla) []
J8 Moran, Sean/Mulcahy, Con (Toyota Corolla) [J2]
J9 Convey, Connor/Barrett, Brendan (Ford Escort Mk2) [J1]
J10 McMenamin, Gavin/Tba, (Toyota Corolla) [J2]
J11 Kinirons, Mark/Tba, (Citroen C2) [J2]
J12 O'Meara, Darragh/O'Meara, Tommy (Ford Ka) [J1]
J13 McAree, Vincent/McKenna, Jason (Peugeot 106) [J2]
J14 McElhinney, Damien/McGowan, Kevin (Peugeot 206) [J2]
J15 Donoghue, Niall/Kennedy, Trevor (Honda Civic) [J2]
J16 Finnerty, Darren/Tba, (Toyota Corolla) [J2]
J17 Casserly, Dermot/O'Shaughnessy, John (Honda Civic EK4) [J2]
J18 Higgins, Allen/Conroy, Peter (Ford Escort Mk2) [J2]
J19 Ryan, David/Leonard, Orla (Peugeot 205 GTi) [J2]
J20 Doory, Padraig/Tba, (Suzuki Swift GTI) [J1] Note:
rally.ie did not receive the reserve list

A New Challenge for Owen Murphy. - EVO 9 for Galway and Tarmac Championship
Owen Murphy, the 2006 "Billy Coleman young rally driver of the year" would like to announce that he will be competing in the Irish Tarmac Championship in a Gp N Yokohama Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 in 2007.

The car, a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 will be of similar specification to the works Yokohama car used by Nutahara in the P-WRC.Owen's car will run on 18 inch Advan Yokohama tyres to accomodate the latest homologated brakes.

Owen would like to welcome back all his sponsors from last year including title sponsors Yokohama, Mac Tyres Ireland, O'Flynn Construction, O'Brien Crowley, Permafrost and Irish Aggregates.

Owen would like to welcome on board Compomotive Wheels and will be the first Irish driver to debut the new 18 inch Compomotive (CXT) wheel specially developed for the new Group N homologated tarmac brakes.

Owing to the lateness of the deal, Owen will not have any time to test the car before the Galway International Rally, so his ability to adapt to a new car and a new championship will be fully put to the test.

The car will be run by KG Motorsport

The Entry list for the 2007 Galway International rally will be released this weekend (20th/21st Jan.)

Austin MacHale entered in Galway
Galway Motor Club have confirmed that Austin MacHale has entered the 2007 Galway International Rally. Car TBA.
Rally Programmes
Rally Programmes will be able from Wednesday 31st January, in Newsagents and Fuel Stations along the rally Route - (Galway City, (Caltra) Portumna, (Ballyfa) Ballinasloe etc.)
Programme will contain full Colour Maps and Timetable.

Revised Time and Distance Schedule More Details on the Galway International Rally @

“Gronholm for Championship opener in Galway”
A new year, a new Tarmac Championship and what a year its going to be!! The BP -Ford World Rally Team have confirmed an entry on The 2007 First Choice Flooring Galway International Rally, for Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen. The prospect of a former World Rally Champion competing on the stages in Galway is not to be missed.1second is all that separated Marcus from his third title in 2006. The pair will compete in a 06 spec Ford Focus WRC, run by M-Sport.

Grönholm joined the Ford team in 2006 and made a dream start with victory on his first two events in Monte Carlo and Sweden. He went on to claim a personal best seven victories to take second in the drivers' standings as Ford won the manufacturers' title, with further successes in Greece, Finland, Turkey, New Zealand and Britain. His Finland win was his sixth success on home soil.
Rautiainen has accompanied Grönholm to 25 WRC victories and world titles in 2000 and 2002. He stands second in the all-time list of WRC victories for co-drivers and has won his native Rally Finland on six occasions in the last seven years. The pair now have the longest running partnership in the WRC.

The rally will once again be the first round of the Irish Tarmac RallyChampionship and The Irish Historic Rally Championship. The Junior Rally will cover all 9 stages on the Sunday.
We are delighted to continue our association with First Choice FlooringLtd. as our main sponsor for the event and we are indebted to them for their most generous support.

The Rally HQ for 2007 has moved to The Clayton Hotel, Galway. You will be assured of a warm welcome and excellent entertainment during the weekend. Friday the 2nd of February will bring a new departure for the Galway International, with a ceremonial Rally start being planned for 8pm in Eyre Square. The organisers hope to have the Micro-Cam Big Screen in Eyre Square to broadcast the start and finish of the rally on Sunday evening.

The Rally will leave Galway early on Saturday morning for105 stage kms in a three stage configuration with centralised servicing in Portumna Mart and visiting Gurtymadden, Portumna and Eyrecourt areas. The focus on Sunday will shift to Ballinasloe with 140 stage kms running from the Caltra area to Ballyfa, centralised servicing will be in theBallinasloe Mart.

Current Irish Tarmac Champion, Eugene Donnelly will be in Galway to begin the defence of his “ Triple Crown”. The man from Maghera has retired his double championship winning, Corolla WRC and will make his first competitive outing in a newly acquired Subaru S12 WRC.

Gareth MacHale will tackle the demanding Galway stages in a new Ford Focus WRC. It will be his first competitive outing in the car, following a successful test with M-Sport, last December. Austin MacHale having won the Galway International 6 times, will have high hopes for Gareth.

Austin MacHale, Mark Lovell and Eugene Donnelly are the only drivers to have back to back wins in Galway. Eugene Donnelly and Austin MacHale have both won Galway and gone on to win the Tarmac Championship. Former Tarmac Champion, Bertie Fisher also had 2 Galway victories to his credit. Hugh Martin Doherty has plans to tackle the Galway International in his Ford Focus WRC.

Local Galway crew Mike Bird and Kevin Keane have acquired an ex- Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC S8. The pair are backed by West Properties Int. The car is being prepared by DMG Motorsport, to arrive in Galway within the next 2 weeks.
Gerard Hodgins has a newly built G3 which makes its rally debut in February.

In 2004, 0.7 of a second and a “ Flying Finn” combined to wrench victory from “The Genie”. I have no doubt that the team in Donnelly Motorsport have no wish to see a repeat in 2007. It remains to be seen if the switch to Subaru can get Eugene a place in the history books by claiming 3 back to back Galway wins.

Galway Motor Club and First Choice Flooring Ltd, fully support the “Keep The Race in its Place” campaign. We have made every effort to organise a safe and enjoyable rally for everyone. Please remember that future rallies depend on the cooperation of the residents on the stages.

Will it be a Ford or a Subaru first across the finish ramp? Join the action in Galway on February 2nd,3rd and 4th to see for yourself.

Top Class entry for Galway
The entries for the First Choice Flooring Galway International Rally are flying in. The top twenty will be one of the best that the Irish Tarmac Championship has seen in recent years. The list will include a double “World Rally Champion”, a double “British Rally Champion”, Irelands only driver registered for points in the WRC. The “Genie” from Maghera ( Triple Irish Tarmac Champion) will return to defend his title.

Entries of note received so far
    Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen – Ford Focus WRC
    Mark Higgins / Rory Kennedy – Subaru Impreza WRC
    Tim McNulty / Anthony Nestor- Subaru Impreza WRC
    Eugene Donnelly / Paul Kiely – Subaru Impreza WRC
    Ray Breen / Damien Morrissey – Ford Focus WRC
    JJ Flemming / TBA – Ford Focus WRC
    George Cullen / Jakes Kelly – Subaru Impreza WRC
    Enda Nolan / Michael Lyster – Mitsubishi EVO 9
    Gary Jennings / Enda Sherry- EVO 9
    Colm Murphy / Ger Loughrey – Subaru Impreza
    Trevor Cathers / Dessie Wilson – EVO 9
    James Foley / TBA – EVO 9
    Willie Fannin / Mick Courtney – Subaru Impreza N12
(**Full Entry is expected @ the launch on Tuesday Night)

Entries on the local scene will include
    Martin Ward / Linda Conroy – Ford Sierra
    Mike Bird / Kevin Keane – Impreza S8
    Pat Spain / John C McMahon – Escort Mark 2
    Neil Pierce / Enda O Leary – Honda Civic
Enda Nolan and Michael Lyster make a welcome return to Galway. They last entered the Galway International in a Ford Sierra in 1993. The 2007 International will bring some famous faces and fantastic rallying to the stages in Galway. Make sure you don’t miss it.

More Details on the Galway International Rally @

Mark Higgins enters Galway in S11
Cork 20 International rally winner Mark Higgins has entered Galway in a Subaru Impreza S11 WRC, backed by Pirelli.

Gronholm and MacHale enter for M-Sport.
M-Sport have confirmed an Entry for Marcus Gronholm and Gareth MacHale.
Further details are expected to be announced by M-Sport at the Autosports show - 11-14 January.
M-Sport who are contracted to run the works Ford Focus Team on the World Rally Championship have been in contact with Galway Motor Club about running 2 cars on this years' Galway International Rally.

Further details including drivers have yet to be confirmed.

New HQ
The headquarters for the Rally will be located at Galway's newest hotel - the Clayton at Ballybrit.
In addition to being the location for documentation scrutiny, the rally HQ willalso be the entertainment hub for the weekend.
Regulations and further details on:
Prelimerary Details
The main sponsor will again be First Choice Flooring.
The Saturday stages will be based around Portumna and the Sunday loop will be based around Ballinasloe.

John O'Connell, is once again clerk of the course for the event, and he heads the organising team - most of whom have agreed to return for another year.

Regulations will be available shortly.

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