UAC Easter Rally (Replacing the Circuit) - 7-8 Apr 07

Posted: April 16, 2007 1:00 PM - 32989 Hits

Round 2 - 2007 Tarmac Rally Championship
Round 3 - 2007 Northern Ireland Rally Championship
Round 2 - 2007 Irish Fiesta Sporting Trophy

  • Second Place Puts Eugene Back In Championship Race
  • Colm Murphy and Ger Loughery - Drama on the UAC Easter Stages.
  • Higgins/Kennedy Win Easter International
  • Fiesta SportingTrophy - Harvey victorious in Easter Showdown
  • Second consecutive rally win for Glenn Allen/Damien Connolly at UAC Easter National Rally!
  • Photos
  • Video Clips

Photo: Roy Dempster

Posted: April 16, 2007 1:00 PM

Emma Mckinstry and co-driver Kenny Hull added another top twenty finish in a WRC car to their CV at the UAC Easter International Rally.

In the glorious sunshine the pair brought home the Kiverco Recycling Systems backed Subaru in a respectable 18th overall.

Two days of very technical stages in the Sperrin Mountains were a tremendous challenge for the pair, in only their second event in the Mckinstry motorsport S8. The car worked fantastically over the fast flowing stages of day 1, the new Hankook tyres offering tremendous grip on the bone dry stages and high temperatures. With no dramas the Triton showers car finished leg 1 in 26th place overall.

Day 2 began slightly more overcast than Saturday but the roads remained dry. Emma and Kenny were ready to attack the three gruelling stages run twice, to include the 16 mile Rousky test. However Emma found the car’s handling to be not to her liking over the bumpier sections, and drove accordingly to bring the car through the first loop of stages unscathed.

In service the Mckinstry motorsport mechanics gave the car a thorough check and found nothing amiss, a few adjustments to the suspension settings and a different compound of Hankook tyre left the car much more settled on the bumpy mountain roads.

Emma pushed hard over the remaining three stages and arrived at the finish ramp in Derry, elated to be placed 18th overall. With the level of competition, the demanding stages and the immense pace in the event, this result is a tremendous achievement for Ireland’s top female rally driver.

Emma and Kenny would like to thank Kiverco Recycling Systems Ltd for coming on board for this event, without whom it would not have been possible, along with Hankook Tyres, Triton Showers, Mcgaffin Contracts, ID Graphics NI and Shannon holdings. Emma and Kenny now look forward to round 3 of the Hankook national forestry series in Limerick next weekend, where Emma will get her first taste of the world rally car on gravel…..

Reigning Irish Tarmac 1600 Rally Champion, Andrew Bushe, had a difficult debut on his first foray with a full Super 1600 spec car, on round two of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, the UAC Easter International. After using a Peugeot 106 Cup Car last season to take the championship, it was the Lisburn drivers’ first taste of the Citroen Saxo Super 1600 having only driven it six miles before the first stage. “To be honest I started stage one with a lot to learn. Left hand drive, wide track, a dog gearbox, there was a lot to adapt to, and added to that the suspension settings we had were all wrong and the car wanted to just skip off the road on any sort of high speed bump or dip. After spending all my money and over a year getting the car rebuilt, I didn’t want to stick it in the hedge either!” Nevertheless despite the learning process, Andrew and Welsh born co driver Simon Mills led the class by a minute and a half at the end of the first leg and revised suspension settings for day two was to significantly improve matters.

Day two started well with a competitive time on Barnes Gap, carving thirty seconds off their class rivals, the softer suspension making the car more driveable. A driver error at the hairpin on the next test, Rousky, and a car that refused to restart cost about 50 seconds but nevertheless they still extended the lead in the class on that test. “To be quite honest I made a balls of the hairpin! I didn’t figure on the back tyres being so sticky, and didn’t chuck it enough, but it just shows how well the rear Kumho’s were working. I wasn’t worried though as this rally was really a test session for us, but our test session was cut short when a driveshaft broke just after the start of the next test. It was annoying because I was starting to get the feel of left hand drive rallying and the car, and we really could have done with the first placed points, but that’s rallying.”

The next event for the Hegarty Metal Recycling team is the Killarney Rally of the Lakes on May 5th, round three of the Irish Tarmac Series, but before hand they plan to do some testing. “I really need some miles in the car. It feels very different from the 106 Cup Car, and I’m told if it’s not set right it will be a beast, as at the moment it’s very snatchy on patches of gravel and wicked on fast bumps. I think the potential’s there though as the engine and gearbox feel superb, it’s just fine tuning the suspension and the nut behind the wheel. Ideally I want to keep getting the miles in and really get up to speed towards the middle of the year and be a lot more on top of it for Rally Ireland in November.”

Last year was Andrew’s first drive on the Killarney Rally, finishing third in class and the 1600 opposition will be tough. “There will be a few fast guys out in Killarney, and they will have a lot more experience of the stages, but id be happy to get points and build up my speed and confidence. Id certainly like to get the suspension sorted a bit better before going up Molls Gap. They are excellent stages so it should be a great rally.”

Second Place Puts Eugene Back In Championship Race
A second place finish on the weekend’s UAC Easter International Rally, round two of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, has put points on the board for the reigning three time tarmac champions Eugene Donnelly and Paul Kiely. The Easter International is essentially the round closest to Eugene’s home in Maghera and a huge crowd gathered in nearby Derry on Friday night to cheer on the Esker Subaru team over the start ramp, a build up to this two day, twelve stage event.

Much was expected from the team and on stage one they didn’t disappoint, just 0.5 of a second down on fastest man Mark Higgins in a similar machine. “I didn’t feel that we had pushed that hard on the first stage so I was happy with the time and we made a few adjustments to tweak the car at service. I dropped just a little on the next two, with Mark Higgins, Kris Meeke and Andreas Mikkelson all going very well, then we made a few further tweaks” remarked Eugene. But on the second run over the Ballix Hill stage, you can imagine what might have been said in the car as Eugene misjudged a hairpin, stalled the car and dropped 11 seconds to Mark Higgins on the stage. “To be honest I went back to service and then decided to really attack the next two, but we didn’t make up any time. Mark and Kris were going very well, and they are too professionals at the end of the day, very good professionals. Then on Sunday morning over the Barnes Gap and Rousky stages we had another go, but again I just wasn’t making the time back, and I couldn’t put an answer on it, as the car was performing faultlessly, and I have to say it never missed a beat all weekend.”

Eugene and Paul kept up a fast controlled pace on Sunday lying in third place, and second point’s position. “To be honest we had to get points here, especially with Mark now having two maximum scores, and at least we did that. There is no doubt also that I would have liked to win, but Mark was a better driver and had a better package at the weekend. Maybe I didn’t spend as much time preparing as I did for Galway, and Mark, Kris and Andreas are professionals, and come to the event with a lot more seat time.”

Round three of the series is the Killarney International on May 5th-6th.
“I am looking forward to Killarney. Its one of my favourite rallies, and we will have to do some more testing. I really think that with the likes of Mark in the series the bar has been raised again. There’s always someone to aim for. When I started the National series in ’03 in a World Car it was Michael Barrable I had to beat, then on the Irish Tarmac series it was Derek McGarrity, and then Andrew Nesbitt, and now Mark is the man to beat, and it’s good to have that competition. On the Easter International I was not surprised at Kris Meeke’s pace, as is very talented, but I was even more impressed with Andreas Mikkelson who is so young, and so fast out of the box. It’s great to have all these people competing and it just continually keeps the pace very hot.”

Colm Murphy and Ger Loughery - Drama on the UAC Easter Stages. Colm Murphy and Ger Loughery top the championship table after a drama filled final loop on the UAC Easter Stages based in Derry which was played out in beautiful sunshine all weekend, fit for this fabulous event with full credit to the organising team.

Seamus Leonard lost what seemed to be an unassailable lead with just three stages to go. A small off on Stage 10 saw the lead trimmed to 34seconds with the longest stage, Ruskey and a short run through Craig Hill. A storming drive from Colm and Ger through the magnificent Ruskey and a puncture for Leonard saw the MRallying crew going into the final stage with a 7 second lead. However the stage was cancelled thus ensuring a fine victory for the Trackcare Engineering backed car.

“We had a strategy for the weekend which was to drive at our own pace, which is what we did. Seamus is very quick on these stages and we just wanted to keep as close as possible to pressure and score the maximum possible championship points. We are absolutely delighted with the result” said a jubilant Colm in Derry last night.

Leonard had set a blistering pace from the start with Colm in the Thermia Under floor Heating backed car holding second place 14 seconds back. A right front wheel on the grass 2 miles from the end of Stage 3 saw Colm hit a stone and puncture which cost 30 seconds. A solid drive for the rest of day saw Colm return to Derry 59 seconds down on Leonard but 29 seconds up on Roy White in third. The cars returned for service in Omagh in preparation for the final loop with the leader board largely unchanged, with Colm and Seamus exchanging times.

Colm said, “The pace was relentless all weekend and full credit to everyone for making this a most enjoyable event. The HANNKOOK tyres were superb working perfect in these conditions. Ger and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our sponsors and supporters and we are looking for to Killarney and the wonderful International Rally of The Lakes”.

Colm and Ger would like to thank all their sponsors and supporters, without whose help none of this would be possible - Hankook tyres, Shell Fuels, Thermia Heat Link, Trackcare Engineering, The Connemara Gateway Hotel, Advance Surveys, Woodtown Plant Hire, The Gables Bar, Murray Motorsport for Lico, Mann Construction and Hella Ireland.

You can find out all the latest on the teams progress at

Group N Winners: Colm Murphy/Ger Loughrey

Fiesta SportingTrophy- Harvey victorious in Easter Showdown
Conor Harvey and Tony McDaid took overall honours in the UAC Easter Fiesta SportingTrophy Rally today after leading the event from the opening stage. Fermanagh man Alastair Fisher and co(driver Barry McNulty finished just under eight seconds behind Harvey while Jonathan Greer and Jonny Hart claimed the final podium position on the Derry City Guild Hall finish ramp.
The event covered 60(miles over five classic stages in the Tyrone area of Northern Ireland. Harvey was quickest through the opening test, setting a time four seconds faster than his nearest FST rival, Tadhg Buckley co(driven by his brother Shane. A stage stoppage on SS2, Rousky 1 resulted in a nominal time of 16:28.1 being awarded to all Fiesta crews.
A spin and stall on SS3, Craig Hill caused Harvey to drop over five seconds to stage winner Alastair Fisher. Despite this, Harvey arrived into the Omagh based service area with a three second advantage over Buckley who was in turn seven seconds ahead of Fisher and McNulty.
Jonathan Greer and Jonny Hart were fourth overall going into service after SS3, four seconds behind Fisher while Barry Greer and John Lemon were in fifth place after a steady run over the opening loop. Kyle Orr and John McCay were in sixth place, a further three seconds adrift. A power problem with Colin Flanagan’s car caused him to lose valuable time and he was eight seconds behind Orr and in seventh place. Paul Quinn and Jason Gillespie had a steady run over the opening loop and they arrived into service in eighth place. William Mavitty and Mark Ammonds were the first retirement in the Fiesta field. They left the road on the opening stage and dropped down a 100 foot drop. Both crew emerged unscathed but were unable to get the car back on to the stage.

With just over 14(seconds separating the top four, a real battle emerged at the top of the leader board. Harvey was again quickest through Barnes Gap, a repeat of SS1 and he held an eleven second lead over Fisher going into the final stage. Tadhg and Shane Buckley hit a bad bump on SS4 which cut off the engine and they lost over three minutes trying to get the car started again.

Jonathan Greer was in third place going into the final stage, 24(seconds behind Fisher but 31(seconds ahead of his brother Barry who had moved up into fourth place. Kyle Orr, Paul Quinn and Colin Flanagan made up the rest of the leader board, all separated by just over one second going into the final test.

A charge from Fisher and McNulty gave them the final stage win, finishing the 17(mile test in a time nearly four seconds quicker than Harvey. However, it was not enough to overhaul the Letterkenny man from the top spot and Conor and Tony crossed the finish ramp to claim maximum points on round two of the Fiesta SportingTrophy.

They were both overjoyed at the finish and Conor remarked, “I’ve really enjoyed the rally and to come away with the win is great. It makes the championship very interesting.” Alastair finished the event seven seconds behind Harvey and he commented, “I’m really happy with the result and glad to be on the pace.”

Jonathan Greer and Jonny Hart struggled with tyre wear over the final stage but they managed to hold on to third place, finishing the rally over a minute ahead of Barry and John. Colin Flanagan and Enda McLoughlin endured brake problems through the final stage and crossed the finish ramp in fifth place, claiming their first points haul of the series.

Kyle Orr and John McCay finished in sixth place, four seconds behind Flanagan. The second retirement of the rally was Paul Quinn and Jason Gillespie when a broken drive shaft forced them to stop of the final stage.

Second consecutive rally win for Glenn Allen/Damien Connolly at UAC Easter National Rally!
Cookstown's Glenn Allen sealed an emphatic victory at last weekend's UAC Easter National Rally, round three of the Pacenotes Northern Ireland Rally Championship. Navigated by Damien Connolly, the crew extended their advantage at the head of the series standings with their second successive win.  

More than 100 crews arrived at the start line of the Londonderry based event and faced 10 stages in the Sperrins region. Allen immediately set the pace in his Toyota Corolla WRC, and a puncture during the third stage of the closed road event failed to slow his challenge. Seemingly head and shoulders above his rivals, he surged to the top of the leaderboard, quickly establishing a substantial advantage.  

In second position, Richard Cathcart and Killian Duffy had solid start in their Group N Impreza but they later rearranged the rear of their car against some solid scenery, dropping them down the order. That allowed Neil McCance and Sean Ferris into the runner-up spot, but they also hit trouble when their Lancer suffered two punctures during stage three.  

The Ford Focus WRC of Stephen Moore and Tony McHugh would have moved into second, but an overshoot into a farmyard near the end of the third test allowed Raymond and David Johnston into the runner-up spot. The top three of Allen, Johnston and Moore remained constant until the end of Saturday's opening leg, while fourth placed Neil McCance headed the Group N category.  

Sunday's stages brought little dramas for the leaders and Glenn Allen and Damien Connolly continued to extend their advantage at the top. Enniskillen's Raymond Johnston had no answer to the flying Toyota, and when Allen came through to claim victory, he had to settle for second.  

Third place was a much tighter battle between Stephen Moore's Ford Focus WRC and Neil McCance's Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. The power advantage was most definitely in Moore's favour, but Comber's McCance was giving him a run for his money. He nipped ahead of the Pomeroy man after stage eight, only for Moore to return fire and move back in front one stage later.  

McCance tried hard to regain the final podium position but with the cancellation of the final stage, he had to settle for fourth, less than one second in arrears. It was still a good result for the McCance and Ferris, as they also sealed the Sunoco Fuels Group N prize. Fifth position went to Seamus Heron and Elaine Doherty, who had a clean run in their Ford Focus WRC.  

Top two wheel drive honours went to Draperstown's Camillus Bradley and Danny O'Neill. The Mark 2 Escort exponents finished sixth overall and also secured the Superdrive cash prize for the second event in succession, while Aidan and Damien Toner brought their Escort home in seventh overall, one minute behind their rivals.  

Paul Britton and Martin McGarrity finished eighth overall and second in the production category, while Geoffrey Dolan and Adrian Brolly were perhaps the surprise of the rally. Seeded at number 42, they brought their Sunbeam home in ninth overall, almost 10 seconds ahead of George Robinson and Sean Devlin, who were piloting an Escort WRC.

Results - International
1 Mark Higgins/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
2 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
3 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
4 Kevin Lynch/David Moynihan (Ford Focus WRC)
5 Eamonn Boland/Francis Regan (Ford Focus WRC)
6 Gareth Jones/Andrew Bargery (Ford Focus WRC)
7 Colm Murphy/Ger Loughrey (Subaru Impreza N12) GpN
8 Seamus Leonard/Gerry McVeigh (Mit. Lancer Evo 9) GpN
9 Roy White/Stephen McAuley (Mit. Lancer Evo 9) GpN
10 Connor McCLoskey/Robbie Durant (Mit. Lancer Evo 9) GpN

Results - National
1 Glenn Allen/Damien Connolly (Toyota Corolla WRC) 1h 24m 52.2s
2 Raymond Johnston/David Johnston (Subaru Impreza WRC) +1m 08.3s
3 Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh (Ford Focus WRC) +1m 15.9s
4 Neil McCance/Sean Ferris (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) GpN +0.9s
5 Seamus Heron/Elaine Doherty (Ford Focus WRC) +49.4s
6 Camillus Bradley/Danny O'Neill (Ford Escort 2.0) +2.0s
7 Aidan Toner/Damien Toner (Ford Escort 2.0) +1m07.6s
8 Paul Britton/Martin McGarrity (Subaru Impreza N10) GpN +27.6s
9 Geoffrey Dolan/Adrian Brolly (Talbot Sunbeam) +1m49.3s
10 George Robinson/Sean Devlin (Ford Escort WRC) +9.9s

Leaders After:
SS1-2 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS3-12 Mark Higgins/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)

Stage Winners
SS1 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS2 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS3 Mark Higgins/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS4 Mark Higgins/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS5 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS6 Mark Higgins/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS7 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS8 Mark Higgins/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS9 - Bogey Beaten
SS10 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS11 Mark Higgins/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS12 Stage Cancelled

Full Results and Times:

Podium Celebrations!
Photo: TPM Photosport

  • Colm Murphy & MRallying Head for the Easter Stages
  • Co-Driver Changes - David Moynihan with Kevin Lynch & Paul Nagle to Co-Drive Kris Meeke
  • Ten Fiestas for Easter Eggstravaganza
  • UAC Easter International Rally ready to roll!
  • Leading Entries
  • Rally Programme available to order on line
  • Pacenotes rally championship moves to closed roads at Easter!
  • 'The show goes on'
  • New Rally Website
  • Regulations available
  • Rally to go ahead
  • "Circuit to go ahead but under new name" & "Circuit crux but UAC will go it alone"

After an extended absence from Rallying due to Leaving Certificate obligations,  schoolgirl Toni Kelly(18) from Letterkenny will be making a comeback this easter when she will compete in the UAC Easter Stages Rally which takes place on the 7th and 8th of April .  Toni will have regular co-driver, Joe Hunter on-board for the event once again and the pair will be using the event as a warm-up for the upcoming Donegal International.  Speaking with Toni she commented "My priority at the minute is my studies and Leaving Certificate, but I plan to do The Donegal International after my exams so I don't want to be rusty, so after some bargaining my parents agreed that I could do this event as it's a school holiday.  Joe and myself are really looking forward to the event and getting back onto the stages once again as the last event I done was in October.  After this it's back to the books to hopefully get a good result in my leaving certificate".

As stated Toni will have Joe Hunter navigating her around the stages on the 7th/8th of April.  Joe who has been navigating for the past 11years and navigating for Toni from early 2006 said "It's great to be getting back into the passenger seat again with Toni, we have had a long break due to her leaving cert which is understandable, but hopefully this break won't affect us too much so that we can be competitive from the outset".

Toni will be using her Honda Civic TypeR in the event.  The car which is prepared by Dean Hetherington and his team of WRC Engineering in Armagh has been completely rebuilt for the 2007 season.  Toni would like to thank her sponsors for their continued support.  Tony Kelly Cars, Four Lanterns Restuarants, Quality Cars & Blake Properties.

The public can keep up with Toni & Joe's progress throughout the 2007 championship and find out other information on the team by logging onto her website
Colm Murphy & MRallying Head For Derry for the Easter Stages
This weekend sees the arrival of round two of the Global Construction Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, The Easter Stages, once again based in Derry. Colm Murphy, Ger Loughrey and the Mrallying team are hoping for better luck in the McKinstry Motorsport prepared Impreza.

Colm & Ger are placed a disappointing 4th overall after Round 1 in Galway, despite setting the quickest stage times on the majority of the stages but all that was ruined following a puncture on Stage 4. There is great rivalry and camaraderie in the Gp N class with little to separate between them so it is imperative to avoid mistakes to have any chance of coming out on top of the class.

Speaking with Colm, “I am looking forward to going to Derry again. The stages were great last year and it was our first event in a new car so we are hoping to be out of the blocks quicker this year as McKinstry Motorsport has the car in top shape for the weekend. It is always a tall order going into my rivals territory but never the less exciting”.

The Trackcare Impreza will be firmly gripped with the best that Hankook have to offer, which proved excellent in Galway despite not having had time to test. Truly amazing then that the Impreza were able to top the time sheets immediately, thanks to Garry and Mike at Hankook and their invaluable advice. It is a partnership that is sure to be a huge success.

Running first Group N car on the road, Colm and Ger are looking forward to competing with Ireland’s fastest competitors around some of the most challenging stages in Ireland. Maybe with some luck Colm and the Mrallying team may just manage to go one place better than last year and take a win on the 2007 Easter Stages.

Colm and Ger would like to thank all their sponsors and supporters, without whose help none of this would be possible - Hankook tyres, Shell Fuels, Thermia Heat Link, Trackcare Engineering, The Connemara Gateway Hotel, Advance Surveys, WoodTown Plant Hire, The Gables Bar, Murray Motorsport for Lico, Mann Construction and Hella Ireland.

Co-Driver Changes
David Moynihan with Kevin Lynch
Paul Nagle to Co-Drive Kris Meeke

Ten Fiestas for Easter Eggstravaganza

Ten Fiestas for Easter Eggstravaganza
Round two of the inaugural Fiesta SportingTrophy Ireland takes place this weekend when ten registered crews line up for the UAC Easter Fiesta Sporting Trophy Rally.

The event, run by the Ulster Automobile Club and based in Derry City, will see the Ford Fiesta ST cars run as one group ahead of the National event field, as they tackle the Sunday section of the rally. The five stages of leg two will total 60 competitive miles in the Tyrone area of Northern Ireland. Tadhg and Shane Buckley from Ballyhaunis in County Mayo head the Fiesta SportingTrophy field after an impressive win on round one, the Galway Rally. Tadhg, who currently leads the overall driver standings, will aim to add a second victory to his 2007 championship campaign as the brothers head the ten strong field.

Conor Harvey from Letterkenny will once again be joined by Tony McDaid and they will be keen to stop the Buckley brothers in their tracks. The talented young Donegal driver showed impressive pace on round one, setting two out of six fastest stage times and he now occupies second overall in the championship. Young Fermanagh driver Alastair Fisher will be third Fiesta on the road and is once again co driven by Barry McNulty. Fisher, who is also competing on the FST UK series, finished third on round one having set quickest time over the third stage of the event. A gearbox problem on round one of the UK series, the Malcolm Wilson Rally, has been resolved and Fisher is hoping to improve on his opening result.

Jonathan Greer and Jonny Hart rejoin the Irish championship after an impressive second place overall in round one of the Malcolm Wilson Rally. Greer from County Down also finished fourth overall on round one of the Irish series finishing four seconds behind Fisher.

William Mavitty from Enniskillen and UK co driver Mark Ammonds will be fifth Fiesta on the road and they will be hoping for a change of luck following problems in Galway. Gearbox problems resulted in a loss of third and fifth gears for the two stages and they plummeted down the leader board, finishing the event as fifth placed Fiesta.

Kyle Orr returns to the championship after his Fiesta was extensively damaged following an accident in Galway. Full repairs have been carried out and the young County Down man will be co driven by John McCay from Derry. Colin Flanagan and Enda McLoughlin are also hoping for a change in luck from round one after mechanical failure forced them into retirement on the opening stage of the event. McLoughlin from Boyle, County Roscommon has fitted a new engine to his Ford Fiesta ST and is determined to prove a point next weekend.

Barry Greer and John Lemon are the first of the new crews joining the series. Brother to Jonathan, Barry is also competing in the UK series. Greer, originally from a rally cross background, competed on the Northern Irish Championship last year where he finished third overall in class N2. Rory Hall and Gareth Roberts are the second crew to join the championship for round two. Hailing from Pembrokshire in Wales, they have decided to compete on the Irish series to gain more experience on tarmac events and they are both also challenging in the UK series this year.

Dungannon man Paul Quinn and co driver Jason Gillespie round off the Fiesta SportingTrophy field for the most competitive event so far in the Irish series. The crew finished sixth in Galway and also set an impressive pace over round one of the UK championship last month.

Fermanagh driver and former Irish Group N Rally Champion Garry Jennings will return to the renamed Easter International Rally in an attempt to beat the bad luck from previous years.

He will be joined again by Enda Sherry in his black Mitsubishi Evo 9, hoping to make the final control of the event in Londonderry in the same position he has occupied for the previous three years. “I have had some bad luck on this event.” explains Garry, “Leading group N on the final day for the past three years, I have only finished once. I’m determined to make it to the end and hopefully we’ll be in a good position too. It is an event I would dearly love to win.” Garry was frustrated in 2006 when he made a mistake on a hairpin and slid off the road, eventually finishing with an undamaged car having spent three minutes in a ditch.

Garry is committed to completing the classic stages as he is amongst many Irish competitors who plan to contest the first Irish round of the World Rally Championship. “We are off to Rally Portugal the weekend before to see how the organisers cope with a round of the WRC.” said Garry, “It should give us a feel for the format, but there is no substitute for stages miles, so the Easter Rally should stand us in good stead.”

The rally will begin with a ceremonial start at Derry's Guild Hall on Good Friday night (April 6) beginning at 18.30, with six special stages in the Sperrin Mountains and a central service area in Omagh on Saturday. The competitors return to the Sperrins region for a further six special stages on Easter Sunday, again with service facilities centred on Omagh, finishing on the ramp in Guild Hall Square at 17.40 on Easter Sunday evening.

The team would like to thank its sponsors: Kumho Tyres, JMB Enterprises, Walker Contracts, Autocar Logistics, Sligo Pallets Sydare Eggs, Euro Auto Salvage, OMP and Shell Racing Fuels for their continuing support.

After their highly successful outing in the Mckinstry Motorsport S8 Subaru on last years Ulster International Rally, Emma Mckinstry and Kenny Hull are putting together final preparations for their next outing on the UAC Easter Rally (former circuit of Ireland).

Taking a break from their main championship focus, the Hankook Tyres Southern Forestry series, this is a welcome opportunity for the Banbridge pair to once again sample the WRC car.

Finishing 15th overall on last years Ulster International Rally and 10th overall on ‘The Rally of 1000 Entries’ Emma will be ready for the challenge of the two day event based in the North-West of Ireland.

Backing will once again come from regular sponsors Hankook Tyres, Triton Showers, McGaffin Contracts, Protec and ID Graphics NI, with the addition of new sponsor KIVERCO Recycling Systems.

Emma and Kenny would like to take this opportunity to thank all their sponsors in advance, and are hopeful to repay their backing with a good result on the Easter weekend event.

UAC Easter International Rally ready to roll!
Ireland's No.1 driver Eugene Donnelly will head a 60-strong entry list for the Londonderry-based UAC Easter International Rally which takes place on April 7/8.  

Donnelly, from Maghera in Co Derry, won the 2006 Circuit of Ireland Rally - which for contractual reasons is renamed the Easter International this year - and the reigning Tarmac champion returns to lead the line-up ahead of British champion Mark Higgins, Eamonn Boland and Ireland's Junior World championship star Kris Meeke.  

All three will drive WRC (World Rally Car) Subaru Imprezas, Donnelly's being the latest S12 version from Subaru's World champion team, Prodrive. It was in this Esker-sponsored car that he led two-time World champion Marcus Grönholm on last month's Galway International only to crash out two stages from the end.  

Higgins, who leads this year's Tarmac championship, returns to Ireland after winning the Production class on the World championship Rally Mexico. The Welsh-based Manxman drives an S11 Pirelli Subaru, partnered by Letterkenny co-driver Rory Kennedy.  

Meeke will also be in a Triton Showers-sponsored S11 Subaru run by the McKinstry Motorsport team from Banbridge. Despite the fact he hails from Dungannon, this will be a rare Irish appearance for the 26-year-old who has spent the past four years competing in the Junior World championship for Opel and Citroen.  

The only home event he has ever contested before is the Ulster International and last year he astounded the field by leading for a time in Citroen's little 1600cc C2. Meeke has only competed once before in one of the big WRC supercars and this will be the first time he has driven one on a closed road tarmac rally.   

The starting list also includes last year's Rally of the Lakes winner Tim McNulty, triple Northern Ireland champion Kevin Lynch from Dungiven, Welshman Gareth Jones and 17-year-old wonder boy from Norway, Andreas Mikkelsen, who is taking in the Easter event in preparation for the World championship Rally Ireland in November.  

The Group N production category is headed by led by current champion Colm Murphy and includes Enniskillen's Garry Jennings, Omagh's Seamus Leonard and Clonmel's Roy White.
The Easter International is the second round of the Global Group Tarmac championship and running alongside it will be the Easter National, the third round of the Pacenotes Northern Ireland championship.  

It will have a capacity entry of 100 cars, headed by the Toyota Corolla of Northern Ireland championship leader Glenn Allen from Draperstown. Among his challengers will be Stephen Moore from Pomeroy who won the opening round of the series and currently leads the Irish forest championship after winning the first two rounds in his Ford Focus.  

"Organising an International rally in 10 weeks, rather than 10 months, is a very intense experience," Clerk of the Course Nigel Hughes said prior to the launch. "I am delighted with the response from competitors far and wide, who have voted with their feet, giving a truly exceptional entry for all sections of the rally. A special word of thanks must go to our many friends among the motorsport community in Ireland and further afield, as without them it would not be possible to stage this event. The support received from these sources as well as local government, PSNI, residents in the Sperrins and the fans has been truly humbling."  

"As ever, our main priority is safety and marshals are always needed," Hughes continued. "To this end, a marshal's get-together and briefing for all current volunteers, and those who would wish to offer their services, will be held in the Sheppard's Top of the Town Bar in Banbridge on Tuesday 3 April at 8pm. Rally footage will be shown and marshals will have an opportunity to meet some of the top local drivers. Opportunities exist to join existing stage teams and benefit from free rally packs and branded clothing."  

The rally will begin with a ceremonial start at Derry's Guild Hall on Good Friday night (April 6) beginning at 6-30pm.  

The Easter Saturday action involves six special stages in the Sperrin Mountains and a central service area in Omagh. The competitors return to the Sperrins region for a further six special stages on Easter Sunday, again with service facilities centred on Omagh.  

The winner is due back for a champagne celebration on the finish ramp in Guild Hall Square at 5-40pm on Easter Sunday evening.

Leading Entries

1 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
2 Mark Higgins/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
3 Eamonn Boland/Francis Reagan (Ford Focus WRC)
4 Kris Meeke/Glenn Patterson (Subaru Impreza WRC)
5 Tim McNulty/Anthony Nestor (Subaru Impreza WRC)
6 Kevin Lynch/Gordon Noble (Ford Focus WRC)
7 Peadar Hurson/Dairmuid Falvey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
8 Gareth Jones/Andrew Bargery (Ford Focus WRC)
9 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Ford Focus WRC)
10 Stephen Murphy/MJ Morrissey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
11 Patrick Elliott/TBA (Subaru Impreza WRC)
12 Sean Devine/Paul McLaughlin (Subaru Impreza WRC)
14 Terry McGonigle/Stephen Casey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
15 Martin Doherty/TBA (Subaru Impreza WRC)
16 Hugh Martin Doherty/Michael McBride (Ford Focus WRC)
17 Denis Biggerstaff/Paul McGee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
18 Colm Murphy/Ger Loughrey (Subaru Impreza N12)
19 Garry Jennings/Enda Sherry (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
20 Seamus Leonard/Gerry McVeigh (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
21 Roy White/Stephen McAuley (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
22 James Foley/Paddy Robinson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
23 John McGlaughlin/David McElroy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
24 Willie Fannin/Mick Courtney (Subaru Impreza N12)
25 Kevin O'Donoghue/Joe O'Leary (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)

101 Glenn Allen/Damien Connolly (Toyota Corolla WRC)
102 Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh (Ford Focus WRC)
103 Raymond Johnston/TBA (Subaru Impreza WRC)
104 George Robinson/Sean Devlin (Ford Escort WRC)
105 Seamus Heron/TBA (Ford Escort WRC)
106 Johnny McKenna/Eugene O’Kane (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
107 Neil McCance/Sean Ferris (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
108 Camillus Bradley/Danny O’Neill (Ford Escort Mk 2)
109 Paul Barrett/Dermot Colgan (Escort)
110 Fintan McGrady/Brian Crawford (Ford Escort Mk 2)
111 Paul Hughes/Conor Murphy (Escort)
112 Stanley Ballantine/Richard Hyland (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.5)
113 Gareth Logan/Alan Purdy (Lancer Evo 8)
114 James Kennedy/Andrew Murray (Ford Escort Mk 2)
115 Brian Brogan/Joe Friel (Ford Escort Mk 2)
116 Eoin McErlean/Donard McCann (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.5)
117 Paul Britton/TBA (Subaru Impreza N10)
118 Aidan Toner/Damien Toner (Ford Escort Mk 2)
119 Shaun Murphy/Claire Hegarty (Ford Escort Mk 2)
120 Gary McElhinney/Jonathan Charlesson (Ford Escort Mk 2)

Rally Programme available to order on line
Rally Programmes are now available to purchase from the UAC Easter Rally website and will be posted out from Saturday 31st morning.

The programme contains
  • Stage maps
  • In depth stories written by rally insiders
  • Entry lists for the events
  • and all the other info you will need to maximise your spectating pleasure at Easter.
Order @
Pacenotes rally championship moves to closed roads at Easter!
This year’s UAC Easter National Rally, which will run behind the International event, is the third round of the Pacenotes MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship. A capacity entry of more than 100 crews has been received by Ulster Automobile Club, and all of the championship contenders are ready to commence battle on April 7/8.

Current championship leaders, Glenn Allen and Damien Connolly, will lead the field off the start ramp in their Toyota Corolla WRC. The Cookstown crew moved to the top of the standings after victory at Bishopscourt, making up for their round one disappointment which saw them lose the lead on the final stage. First of the National runners on the road, Allen will be aiming to repeat his 2005 win.

Aiming to stop him in his tracks, Stephen Moore and Tony McHugh return to the series in their Ford Focus WRC. It will be the first time that the Pomeroy man will drive his new Focus on closed roads, so he may take some time to settle in. Confidence should be high though, as he already has three major rally victories to his name this year.

Also in the hunt, Raymond Johnston returns in his Hankook shod Impreza WRC. Although he has an older specification car compared to some of his rivals, the Enniskillen driver is more then capable of setting top times. He finished fourth at Kirkistown then third at Bishopscourt, leaving him third overall in the championship standings.

Ballymena building contractor George Robinson continues the variety of world rally car machinery with his Ford Escort WRC. He currently holds fourth overall in championship terms, and with Sean Devlin on the notes, the crew will be aiming to build their points tally.

Magherafelt’s Seamus Heron is set to make his debut behind the wheel of a Focus WRC, just ahead of leading Sunoco Fuels Group N contenders, Johnny McKenna and Eugene O’Kane. Comber’s Neil McCance and Sean Ferris will give them a run for their money in the production category class, with McCance desperately needing some points on the board.

Further down the order, current Group N champion Stanley Ballantine once again has Richard Hyland on the notes. They start just in front of Gareth Logan and Alan Purdy, while Eoin McErlean and Donard McCann are hoping to put their low score at round two behind them. Strabane’s Paul Britton is the last of the Group N men inside the top 20, and he also brings a bit of variation to the production category stable with his N10 Subaru.

The Superdrive two wheel drive category will also feature some hot competition, and Draperstown’s Camillus Bradley and Danny O’Neill lead the field in their Mark 2 Escort. Eighth on the road, Bradley’s rear wheel drive Escort will be popular with spectators, boasting more than 250bhp! Paul Barrett and Dermot Colgan will also be a hit with spectators, as will insurance expert Fintan McGrady, who has Brian Crawford on the notes.

The UAC National Rally starts on Easter Saturday with five stages and centralised servicing in Omagh. After the overnight halt, the final leg takes place on Sunday, with another five stages in the Sperrins region, before returning to Londonderry’s Guildhall at approximately 5.40pm for the champagne finish.
'The show goes on'
'The show goes on' is the message from the Ulster Automobile Club.
The Circuit of Ireland Rally may have been the subject of intense speculation following the decision of sponsors Meteor Electrical to withdraw from this year's event but the UAC confirms today that the rally will take place at Easter as it has done, with few exceptions, since 1931.

It will be based in Londonderry and will be called 'The UAC Easter International Rally' because of contractual difficulties with the former sponsors. “The past few weeks have been a difficult period for the Ulster Automobile Club but at no time did we ever consider cancelling the rally,” said chairman Stephen Potts.

“The Circuit of Ireland has a great history and has survived major upsets in the past. We would be failing in our duty to uphold those traditions if we had allowed it to lapse this year.

We are grateful for the overwhelming support we have received from motorsport enthusiasts, organisers, competitors and clubs all over the country.”

The rally will not have a title sponsor but it has been guaranteed sufficient financial backing from supporters to ensure its viability.

The rally will be based at the Everglades Hotel in Derry and take place over two days (Saturday April 7 and Sunday April 8) in the Sperrin Mountains. There will be six special stages each day in loops of three which will be covered twice and the total competitive mileage will be 126 miles.

It will be round two of Ireland’s premier rally championship, the Global Group Tarmac championship, and the entry is expected to be headed by last year’s winner Eugene Donnelly, the current Tarmac champion. It will also be a round of the Tarmac Historic championship.

In addition, the UAC Easter National Rally will run alongside the International event over both days and 10 stages, totalling 104 competitive miles. It will be round three of the Pacenotes Northern Ireland championship.

The Irish Ford Fiesta ST Challenge competitors will join the action on day two.

Nigel Hughes, a 25-year Circuit of Ireland veteran, heads the organising team as clerk of the course and he will be assisted by two more experienced rallymen in Andrew Kellitt and Bobby Willis.

The UAC Easter Rally has launched a website.
Regulations and Entry Form are available from: or

The Ulster Automobile Club has confirmed to that it is running a rally this Easter and fulfilling its commitments to all the championships.
The club will send a detailed release in the next couple of days.

More details can be read in Sammy Hamill's articles in the Belfast Telegraph.
This year's Circuit of Ireland rally is in danger of being written off after a split between the UAC and the organisers. The Ulster Automobile Club cancelled their contract with Circuit of Ireland Limited which ran last year's event with Meteor Electrical from Cookstown.

Meteor has spent over £100,000 since becoming involved in the rally in 2005. The company has recently spent £100,000 on catalogues and stationery with Circuit of Ireland branding which is now obsolete.

On the 10th January, without any warning, the UAC dropped the bombshell news at an organisers meeting that they were terminating their contract with Circuit of Ireland Ltd with immediate effect. This meant that the Sponsors and organising motor clubs involved in the rally were dismissed by the UAC. On the 11th the UAC issued a Solicitors letter issued to Meteor but just one week later approached Meteor to try and reverse it.

Since then intensive behind the scenes negotiations have led to the drafting of a new agreement, with Meteor insisting on safeguards to guard against any future walkouts by the UAC. After a meeting with the UAC on Tuesday, Meteor decided it could not sponsor this year's rally which was to run at Easter with special stages in Derry City, Omagh and Donegal

Veteran rally driver Cathal Curley is the chairman of Circuit of Ireland Limited. He and his team have already organised this year's event but were waiting on road closure permits to be issued by the Ulster Automobile Club when they were told they were sacked.

Meteor has said that while they will not be involved in this years rally they remain as the contracted title sponsors, and that significant commercial issues remain to be resolved with the UAC. They are prepared to discuss the future running of the Circuit of Ireland

Topics: Circuit Of Ireland 

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