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Galway International Rally - 16-18 Jan 09

Posted: January 30, 2009 1:34 PM - 59049 Hits

Safety Direct Galway International Rally 2009
Round 1 - 2009 Tarmac Rally Championship

  • Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner win action packed Galway Rally

More Video Clips

Posted: January 30, 2009 1:34 PM


Posted: January 30, 2009 1:03 PM

Galway International Rally (Jan 16-18)
The Galway rally was a highly memorable one for Kumho as the outright winner and four of the first seven cars were shod with the company’s competition tyres.

Outright victory went on this, the first round of the 2009 Irish Tarmac Championship, to Eugene Donnelly and Paddy Toner in a Skoda Fabia WRC. Four times Irish Tarmac Champion Donnelly was back on Kumho tyres for the first time since 2007 and was quick to praise their part in his victory. “The conditions on both days were atrocious. There was standing water, rain and hailstones pounding the windscreen, plus the occasional patch of ice, but our Kumho Tyres worked extremely well throughout.”

Fifth overall and first in Group N were Anthony O’Halloran and Charlie McEnery in a Mitsubishi Evo 9; sixth overall and second in Group N were Sean Flanagan and Brian Duggan in a Subaru Impreza; seventh overall, and the first two-wheel drive car home, were Tommy Doyle and Tony McDaid in a Renault Clio RS – all were running Kumho tyres.

Jack Frost Stages Rally (Jan 18)
Penrith driver Paul Bird saw off some strong opposition to win the Cartersport Jack Frost Stages Rally at Croft in North Yorks – his first victory on this event. Bird and his co-driver Ian Windress were campaigning a Kumho-shod Subaru Impreza WRC S9. A man of many talents, Bird is a poultry farmer by trade and also the owner of the Kawasaki World Superbike Team. He joked, “Now I’ve won an event I’m hoping my superbike riders can do likewise in the World Championship!”

Said the manager of Kumho’s European Motorsport Division, Steve Thompson, “This was a great way to begin the season and we clearly hope the year continues in the same way. We are particularly delighted to have Eugene Donnelly back in the fold – a man who achieved many successes on Kumho tyres in the past and looks like doing so in the future too.”

Posted: January 25, 2009 7:01 PM

Photo: Trevor McGrath


Posted: January 20, 2009 4:22 PM

Four times Irish Tarmac Rally Champion, Eugene Donnelly on his return to the series in 2009, took victory on the first round at the weekend, the Galway International. With co driver Paddy Toner, the Maghera pair took the Digiprintz Skoda Fabia WRC to a momentous victory, in difficult conditions. The entry for Galway was one of the best on record for the top seeds, and reigning Irish Tarmac Champion Eamonn Boland set the early pace in his Subaru Impreza S12B, with Kevin Lynch in his similar machine second and Eugene slotting into third at the close of the first day, in the older Fabia WRC, but at one point he had been second. “We weren’t far off the pace early on Saturday, but I made a mistake got stuck on a bank on one stage and a puncture on another in total cost us a minute. But all in all we were happy, as we weren’t expecting to win the event, especially with all the competition around us. I have to admit that at times I did feel a bit rusty, as really my last proper outing was in Donegal, and we couldn’t afford to do a whole lot of testing with the car before Galway. In saying that though, the wee car did feel more responsive than before, and the McGeehan engineers also softened the roll bars, and adjusted the differential map which really helped the car.”

The conditions on both days were atrocious. Heavy winds, standing water on the roads, rain and even hailstones pounding the windscreen, and also the occasional patch of ice made the rally a challenging one, but Eugene coped with it admirably.
“The conditions were the same for everyone, and I have to say I didn’t really find it that tough as such. It was consistent all weekend in that it was wet, and our Kumho Tyres were working extremely well. The team had also spent time ensuring that all the demisting and wiping systems were working properly before the event and this was essential in the conditions. At the weekend the people who really deserve credit are the marshals and timekeepers, who voluntarily stood out in those horrendous conditions, keeping the rally on track, and some of them not even getting a chance to see the cars in action.”

On the second morning of the event, Eugene started in third place, the Sligo Pallets Fabia, 1 minute 15 seconds behind rally leader Eamonn Boland, with Kevin Lynch second but things were to change dramatically when the two Subaru’s struck trouble.
“We had a real attack on the first stage out, and had a very good stage time, and that was despite catching Kevin Lynch in the stage, who was in trouble and we tailed him for about two miles. We pushed hard through stage 11 too, and by that stage Eamonn had fallen by the wayside as well, so we found ourselves in the lead!”

Warrenpoint driver Peader Hurson in his Subaru was promoted briefly to second but Ford Focus mounted Gareth MacHale, who also had niggling dramas on the first day, was soon to grab that place and some fastest stage times, as Eugene and Paddy powered The Limelight Fabia towards victory.
“After that we had to ease off and get to the finish, in a position we hadn’t expected to be in before the start. It was fantastic to win, and fantastic for Paddy Toner, as it’s his first International win. He’s been around the team for so long, winning the National Championship with Charlie, and I am really pleased for him.”

The team are now preparing for the second round at Easter, the Circuit of Ireland, and Eugene has some improvements to make before then.
“There is definitely some room for improvement, particularly I felt in the tighter junctions. I was loosing time on some of the tighter junctions, the car felt a bit skitty, and I felt a bit rusty on the technical junctions and sections. I’m a bit out of practice, so certainly between now and the Circuit of Ireland I need to practice a little. Overall though it’s just fantastic for our team to start the championship with a full haul of points. There were a few drivers who had bad luck at the weekend, but I still think its going to be one of the toughest championships in recent times.”

Video Clips

Posted: January 20, 2009 12:14 PM

Donnelly takes the honours in race for Championship Title

Posted: January 20, 2009 9:47 AM

Eugene Donnelly started his bid for a record fifth Irish Tarmac Rally Championship title by scoring a dramatic victory on last weekends Safety First Galway International rally. The Galway International is the first round of the Championship, and traditionally provides a very stern Championship opener for competitors. The 17 stage event was held on Saturday and Sunday and the conditions were very challenging with crews contending with gale force winds, driving rain and showers of sleet and snow.

On this occasion the Maghera man proved he was up to the challenge and he was the man who was first over the ramp in Galways Eyre square to take his third Galway title at the wheel of his Skoda Fabia WRC..

Donnelly had set a safe pace on Saturday in the treacherous conditions, and he was third overnight behind the more developed Subarus WRCs of Eamonn Boland and Kevin Lynch.

When Boland the current Championship title holder and Lynch both retired on the first lop of stages on Sunday morning Donnelly leaped to the front of the leader board , nurturing a gap of a minute to the finish line. It was two wins out of two for the little Fabia, as Donnelly also won his first outing in the car in Donegal ‘08. For co-driver Paddy Toner Galway is his first ever International Tarmac rally win.

Runner up spot was claimed by Gareth MacHale in a Ford Focus, The young Dubliner had a troubled run on Saturday and was 7th overnight. However, a series of fastest times on the second day enabled MacHale to pass Peader Hurson and his sibling Aaron Mc Hale to finish second.

Newry man Peadar Hurson was third on the podium, 29seconds adrift of Mc Hale. It was a fine result for the Subaru driver who had taken a break from the sport but this performance proved that he has lost none of his pace after his layoff.. Aaron MacHale, spent the weekend getting to grips with the 05 Focus and his endeavors were rewarded with a fine fourth place just 24 seconds behind Hurson, a position that will give him valuable championship points.

Fifth of the registered competitors and best Championship Group N competitor was Sean Flanagan driving a Subaru Impreza. As the first registered non WRC driver home Flanagan becomes the first ever driver to win Championship bonus points under the new scoring proposal introduced this year.

Tommy Doyle was the surprise of the rally. The Renault Clio driver was sixth overall, best two wheel drive and he also earned two bonus Championship points.

Doyles performance ensured that he was leading the factory supported Suzuki of Junior World Rally Championship contender Aaron Burkart by a minute, when the latter retired. One of the emerging stars of the event was young Craig Breen who took tenth place overall in his Ford Fiesta and he has certainly put down a marker to his opponents in much more powerful cars.

Eamon Boland was the major retirement. Last years Tarmac Champion had set the pace on the opening day and looked odds on for his first Galway win when his Subaru engine expired on stage eleven. Kevin Lynch inherited the lead but it was to be short lived with his Subaru suffering a similar fate on the way to the next stage.
Other leading Championship contenders retirements included Tim Mc Nulty (stage 1 mechanical), Derek Mc Garrity (stage 3 mechanical) and Darren Gass (stage 6 accident)

Wesley Patterson driving a Ford Escort won the National rally and thus he leads the first ever “Modified Challenge”.

Local driver Ray Cunningham was the victor in the Historic Section in a Cooper S, Derek Boyd took Post Historic honours in his magnificent Porsche Carerra with Noel Conroy being the leading Classic driver in his Ford RS 1800

Determined Gass shows promise before disappointment.

Posted: January 20, 2009 9:34 AM

Armagh hard charger Darren Gass hoped to start his 2009 season with promise and lay to rest the ghosts of much bad luck and non finishes in the 2008 season So with the help of McKinstry Motorsport he headed to Galway for the first international of the Irish season and an S11 WRC car at his disposal. The Subaru has tasted much success as part of the McKinstry hire stable winning many rallies and Darren was determined to settle into the car gradually as his only experience of the car was Lurgan park where he showed good promise on the short event. The experience and wisdom of Kenny McKinstry himself a former winner of this Galway event was to prove invaluable, conditions in Galway are so uniqely slippy and treachorous it made the help and set up advice of McKinstry all the more valuable as Darren set off into the tricky stages in the world rally car.

Darren was co driven by Martin Brady and in first service they were holding 8th overall. Martin commenting, "its so tricky out there so slippy on the braking and even very mucky in the fast parts Darren is doing a brilliant job real calm not getting excited and still his times are just off the guys that have much more mileage under their belts in these cars, we are driving cautious and determined to get to the finish, we are novices in a wrc car and its a long rally yet"

After the McKinstry team making some changes to the settings of the car in service the car became even more impressive and Darren began to feel more at home in the machinery. Stage 4 flowed really well and Darren was getting faster and moved up to 7th o/a. On the next stage the trend was continuing and Darren set a 5th fastest time, a slight brush with a bank filled a wheel rim with mud and this caused a bad vibration which was distracting but Darren was still driving well within himself and focused on a finish.
Darren and Martin changed the wheel jammed with Galway mud before stage 6 and felt ready for another good clean stage but it was evident from the first corner that something was not right with the back of the car, on right hand corners the car was a handfull and difficult to keep on the road and the pair tried to limp through the stage hoping to make it to service to give the McKinstry team a chance to work their repairing skills but it wasnt to be as just before the midpoint of the stage on a long straight the back left wheel, brake disc and hub all in one piece parted company with the car and headed out into a field. Darren doing a superb job to hold onto the car and bring it to a safe stop as there was a river on the left hand side of the road and it was just waiting to catch the car.

Dejected at the side of the road Darren and Martin rued their bad luck. Darren saying "I dont know what I have to do to finish a rally? After bad luck last year I really wanted to get this year off to a good start and we had all the right stuff to do that, Kenny McKinstry gave me a brilliant car and we had a good recce, we drove at a steady pace to get to the finish we so desperately wanted and took safe Pirelli tyre choices all the time. The bank we brushed on the last stage was so soft that it cant have broken anything on the car we checked when we changed the wheel but obviously we must have been just unlucky and we weakened something and it couldnt take anymore, all my luck is bad luck!
I'm so disapointed because it was an awesome car never missed a beat and thanks to Kenny for providing it for me.

Darren now is pondering what to do next initial hopes were for a tarmac championship programme but this may suffer following this set back, for the moment its time to reflect on the 5 good stages in Galway and how he adapted to the WRC Subaru and set some very encouraging times and perhaps see what the rally future brings, hopefully luck can change for the Armagh talent.

Fisher takes first Fiesta battle

Posted: January 19, 2009 5:47 PM

The third season of the Maxol E85 Ford Fiesta SportTrophy (FST) Ireland began last weekend at the Safety Direct Galway International Rally. Nine Fiesta crews took to the start of the event based in the city of Galway on the West coast of Ireland and the event saw some of the worst weather conditions crews had ever faced with heavy rain and winds in excess of 120kph. The event consisted of three stages repeated three times throughout the day giving a total of nine stages covering a total of 120 stage kilometres.

The event began with the 9.4 km of Belleville and it was last year’s FST runner-up Alistair Fisher (19) from Trillick, Co. Tyrone and his co-driver Barry McNulty who set the early pace, stopping the clocks on 5 minutes 56.4 seconds. Only three seconds adrift was Paul Quinn (20) from Dungannon, with navigator Jason Harron. Quinn was on impressive form at the end of 2008 and demonstrated that the winter break had not affected his pace. Third fastest on the stage went to Craig Breen (18) from Waterford and co-driver Andrew Purcell. The young Irishman, a new entrant for 2009, was making a very impressive start to the event and surprised some of his fellow competitors with his speed.

Stage 2, the 14.4 km of Windfield was cancelled for all FST competitors due to an accident further up the field, so crews headed straight for the final stage before service, Colmanstown at 16.2 km. It was Fisher who took the stage win, an incredible 30 seconds quicker than his nearest rival, Breen. Fisher reported he was struggling to get into his rhythm after Stage 1, but his time here showed that he had again found his pace.

As the competing crews returned to service, Fisher had opened up a 30-second lead over Quinn. Amongst the morning’s activities came reports that Stephen Wright (18) from Co. Monaghan and co-driver Paul McGee had suffered a burst power steering pipe resulting in the driver struggling with the car through the tight sections of the stages. Despite his team’s best efforts, they could not fix the problem in time and he was forced to retire.

Mark Donnelly (17) from Omagh and new co-drover Paddy Robinson were struggling to get to grips with the treacherous conditions and an overshoot in Stage 3 (Colmanstown) saw them stranded in a field, dropping two minutes to the overall leader. Garrett Loughran, another new competitor for 2009, was having an interesting event after finding a last minute replacement navigator in Gary McAvenny who stepped into the driver’s seat for the road sections in order to overcome the insurance problems that Loughran encountered during scrutineering. The car salesmen made some overshoots on the route and commented that the event was certainly becoming a “learning experience”.

Stage 4 (Belleville 2) saw Breen take his first stage win of the series, with Fisher four seconds adrift and Quinn a further five seconds behind. Loughran dropped 43 seconds to the leader after hitting a pile of logs and bending the steering, whilst Donnelly found himself stuck on a low wall and dropped 45 seconds to Breen trying to get back on the road.

Stage 5 (Windfield 2) saw Fisher take the stage win from Quinn by one second with Breen in third. For the sixth and final stage before the last service (Colmanstown 2) Breen took his second stage victory from Fisher in second and then Quinn in third. The stage provided drama for FST UK regular Liam Regan (20) from Belfast and co-driver Ray Fitzpatrick when the crew went off and became stuck in a field, losing nine minutes to the leaders.

With no further dramas reported in service, the cars headed out for the final stages. Fisher left the Oranmore service park with a cushion of 45 seconds over Breen, who had moved into second, six seconds ahead of Quinn. Stage 7 (Belleville 3) was cancelled for all competitors after another accident further up the field, leaving only two stages remaining for the battle to ensue.

Stage 8 (Windfield 3) saw Fisher take the victory from Breen by one second, with Shane Buckley (24) from Ballyhaunis and navigator Thomas Maguire in third place. Buckley had set some good times over the course of the day and was showing potential to fight for podium positions as the season progresses.

Another competitor who was having a steady run was Desi Henry (19) from Port Glenone and navigator John Rowan. Henry is still relatively new to the Fiesta ST and was gaining valuable experience as the day went on, but an ‘off’ saw him lose 13 minutes on the penultimate test. He would, however, get going again and finish the event in 8th.

The final stage (Colmanstown 3) found another crew in trouble: Buckley left the road, dropping 12 minutes to Breen, who took second quickest, with Quinn coming in third. But it was Fisher who crossed the finish line with his fifth fastest stage win of the day and claimed victory on the first round of the 2009 FST Ireland by a margin of 30 seconds from series newcomer Breen in second place and last year’s third placed driver Quinn. With the weather conditions being so severe, it was a credit to not only the competitors, but the Fiesta ST and the championship’s tyre partners, Pirelli; all of whom coped brilliantly in the incredibly tough environment they were faced with.

The return to Parc Fermé did not signal the end of the rally for everyone. Breen and Donnelly had decided to take advantage of the new format of the championship, where crews can continue after the FST event has finished and compete in the remainder of the National and International sections of the event. Donnelly had a superb run on the Sunday and finished eighth overall in the National rally, whilst Breen had an equally impressive second day finishing tenth overall in the International event and second two-wheel-drive overall.

The www.rallyinsurance.co.uk Motorsport Insurance Services (MIS) Most Improved Driver Award was tied between Breen and Donnelly, who both climbed four places on their seeding to lead the MIS supported challenge after the first round.

The second round of the series will be the Circuit of Ireland on 10 April 2009.

Winner, Alastair Fisher (19) from Trillick, Co. Tyrone said:
“I am really happy with the win in such bad conditions, we only pushed when we felt we had good grip and I didn’t take any chances - it was just too risky. It was a great way to start off the season.”

Evo Challenge Champ’s start dampened in Galway

Posted: January 19, 2009 5:40 PM

The first part of his three-event prize saw the 2008 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland winner Brendan Cumiskey head to Galway for the opening round of this year’s Irish Tarmac Championship. Besides the event entry fee, the Dundalk-based driver’s prize included tyres, fuel, service support and other expenses. In addition, the award extends to April’s Circuit of Ireland Rally and the Killarney Rally of the Lakes in May.

As is traditional for the Galway event, the weather made the nine stages on Saturday and eight on Sunday even more challenging for competitors, who this year had to contend with high winds and driving rain. Undaunted by the conditions, Cumiskey was looking forward to the rally, as it was on this event last year he recorded his first Evo Challenge victory.

However, things did not start well, as right from the word go he found that his car’s engine was down on power. At the first service halt the team checked to see if there were any turbo related problems, but all looked fine. Then, at the next stop, the fuel pump was replaced – but still no change. Eventually, on the final stage of the day, the turbo-charger expired and Cumiskey, together with his co-driver Conor Foley from Ballinode, did well to get their car back to Galway for the overnight halt.

With a new turbo fitted, hopes were higher for a better day on Sunday. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as the engine was still mysteriously losing power - so much so it finally stopped before the end of the first of the day’s stages.

“I really like the Galway roads, so it was a very frustrating weekend for me”, said Cumiskey. “This is the first non-finish for four years, so it’s a disappointing result – especially as the car was going so well at the end of last year. I’m now looking forward to the next event and starting my season all over again!”

Cumiskey will now go on to take the second part of his prize for winning the Irish Evo Challenge title, when he swaps his own Evolution IX for a James Foley Rallysport built Evolution X to contest the Circuit of Ireland Rally on 10th, 11th and 12th April.

In the mean time, this year’s Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland gets underway with the West Cork Rally on 14th and 15th March

Posted: January 19, 2009 5:37 PM

GpN Winners: Anthony O’Halloran/Charlie McEnery (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
Photo: Roy Dempster

Posted: January 19, 2009 5:35 PM

National Winners: Wesley Patterson/Martin McGarrity (Ford Escort)
Photo: Sean Hassett

Posted: January 19, 2009 5:15 PM

Alan Fair(Safety Direct) Eugene Donnelly ,
Gary Leonard (COC), Paddy Toner
and John Doyle(Safety Direct)
Photo: James Burke


Posted: January 19, 2009 4:56 PM

1 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC) 2h 00m 48s,
2 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 28m 02s,
3 Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 02m 31s,
4 Aaron MacHale/Barry Goodman (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 02m 55s,
5 Anthony O’Halloran/Charlie McEnery (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 2h 10m 46s,
6 Sean Flanagan/Brian Duggan (Subaru Impreza N12 Gp N) 2h 10m 51s,
7 Tommy DoyleTony McDaid (Renault Clio R3) 2h 14m 02s,
8 Mike Bird/Kevin Keane (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 14m 24s,
9 Ger O’Donovan/Sean Hayde (Subaru Impreza N12B Gp N) 2h 14m 56s,
10 Craig Breen/Andrew Purcell (Ford Fiesta ST) 2h 17m 26s.

Group N:
1 Anthony O’Halloran/Charlie McEnery,
2 Sean Flanagan/Brian Duggan,
3 Ger O’Donovan/Sean Hayde.

Class winners:
David Quigley/Des Sherlock (Honda Civic),
Craig Breen/Andrew Purcell,
Daragh O’Riordan/Sean McCarthy (Opel Corsa),
Tommy DoyleTony McDaid
Mike Bird/Kevin Keane.

1 Wesley Patterson/Martin McGarrity (Ford Escort) 2h 10m 46s,
2 Tom Flaherty/Patrick Curley (Ford Escort) 2h 16m 03s,
3 Eugene Ferry/Derek Heena (Ford Escort) 2h 18m 16s.

1 Ray Cunningham/Richard Hyland (Mini Cooper S) 1h 40m 34s,
2 Philip Kerlin/Noel Anderson (Mini Cooper S) 1h 49m 24s,
3 Niall O’Connell/John Liston (Mini Cooper S) 1h 50m 27s.

1 Derek Boyd/Roisin Boyd (Porsche 911) 1h 41m 43s,
2 Tim Lenihan/Noel McCarthy (Ford Escort) 1h 45m 07s,
3 Noel Conroy/Keith Sheppard (Ford Escort) 1h 45m 15s.

1 Peter Wilson/Domhnall Lennon (Honda Civic) 1h 02m 33s,
2 Jonathan Cunningham/Patrick Cunningham (Honda Civic) 1h 02m 55s,
3 Christopher Snow/Brian Daniels (Honda Civic) 1h 05m 53s.

1 Alastair Fisher / Barry McNulty 1:15:46.6
2 Craig Breen / Andrew Purcell 1:16:30.0
3 Paul Quinn / Jason Harron 1:17:20.7
4 Mark Donnelly / Paddy Robinson 1:21:02.7
5 Garrett Loughran / Gary McEvanny 1:22:59.2
6 Liam Regan / Ray Fitzpatrick 1:26:53.7
7 Shane Buckley / Thomas Maguire 1:29:57.4
8 Desi Henry / John Rowan 1:34:27.0
9 Stephen Wright / Paul McGee DNF

Leaders After:
SS1 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
SS2-11 Eamonn Boland/MJ Morrissey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS12-17 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC)

Stage Winners:
SS1 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
SS2 Eamonn Boland/MJ Morrissey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS3 Eamonn Boland/MJ Morrissey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS4 Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS5 Eamonn Boland/MJ Morrissey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
& Kevin Lynch/Francis Regan (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS6 Eamonn Boland/MJ Morrissey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS7 Cancelled
SS8 Kevin Lynch/Francis Regan (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS9 Kevin Lynch/Francis Regan (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS10 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC)
SS11 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC)
SS12 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC)
SS13 Cancelled
SS14 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
SS14 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
SS16 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
SS17 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)


Posted: January 15, 2009 9:52 PM

Four times Irish Tarmac Rally Champion, Eugene Donnelly is starting his bid for a record equalling fifth Irish Tarmac title this weekend on the opening round, the Galway International. After taking a record four consecutive tarmac titles, Eugene took a break from contesting the series last year to concentrate on getting his budget and Skoda Fabia WRC fully sorted for the 2009 series, Ireland’s premier motorsports championship.

The last few weeks have been exciting and things have so far came back together for the Maghera driver, who this year is co driven by fellow Maghera man, Paddy Toner. “I am really looking forward to Galway, it’s always a good rally and the entry this year is as strong as it’s ever been. Eamonn Boland, Gareth MacHale, Tim McNulty, Kevin Lynch, Peader Hurson, and a host of other drivers will all be hard to beat, and who knows what the weather will bring!” Indeed the Digiprintz backed Fabia, in which Eugene so famously won the Donegal International Rally in last year has been further improved with the engine just back from a remap, but that’s not the only change, as Eugene is now back on Kumho Tyres, the make of tyre he used to take three of his tarmac titles.

“We did a test in the car and it feels very good. The engine feels more responsive, and we have a couple of engineers coming over to check on it during the rally. I think it may be later on in the year however before we get enough miles to get the engine fine tuned to exactly the way we want it, but it certainly feels sharper than it was. It’s good also to be back on the Kumho Tyres. The last time I drove on them was in Galway 2007, in the Subaru, and they were good then, but I think they have come on again since then. I was happy in the test with the way the car was working on them, and I am used to the feel of them, so it should be a good package.”

As ever Derek McGeehan of McGeehan Motorsport will be looking after the car, and very welcome additional support in these tight times, has come from Sligo Pallets, The Limelight- Glenties, Ears Motorsport, and Shell Racing Fuels. Following Galway the team will be heading for the Circuit of Ireland Rally at Easter, the second round of this eight round series, a series which Eugene would dearly love to win again. “For me it’s still the big championship here to aim for and if the Galway entry is anything to go by it’s shaping up to be as competitive a season as I have ever seen.”

1 Hour RPM show for Galway Rally

Posted: January 15, 2009 9:51 AM

Thursday 29th January
Time: 23.00

Final Instructions 2, Scrutiny Times available

Posted: January 15, 2009 9:49 AM

Under Competitors

Galway International Rally Evening - (Thurs) 15 Jan 09

Posted: January 13, 2009 4:58 PM

Galway prepares for the Fiesta SportTrophy

Posted: January 13, 2009 4:49 PM

The third season of the Fiesta SportTrophy (FST) Ireland will launch this weekend at the Safety Direct Galway International Rally with a new exciting format.

A new format for 2009 will allow Fiesta crews will to start on Day 1 of the event with the option to compete on both days of the rally and thus allowing them to score not only FST championship points but also Irish Tarmac Championship points.

The rally is based in the bustling city of Galway on the West coast of Ireland. The event has always been a hard fought and competitive series opener for the Irish Tarmac season, as changeable weather conditions mean that it is impossible to predict what the road conditions will be like.

For the FST teams, the rally will be equally hard fought with nine crews lining up for the Saturday morning start.

2007 FST Ireland champions and 2008 runners-up, Alastair Fisher (19) from Trillick, Co. Tyrone and his co-driver Barry McNulty, make a return in an attempt for a second championship victory. Fisher finished the season tied in first place with Elfyn Evans at the end of 2008, but after the tie break regulations had been implemented he was classified as second overall in the series. This year Fisher will be hoping not only to do well in the FST series, but also score highly in the Irish Tarmac Championship.

Paul Quinn (20) from Dungannon in Northern Ireland returns with regular navigator Jason Gillespie. The pair competed on all events in 2008 and finished the series in an impressive third overall. Quinn also picked up the Motorsport Insurance Services (MIS) Most Improved Driver Award and he will aim to challenge for his first overall series victory on the Galway International.

Stephen Wright (18) from Co.Monaghan with co-driver Paul McGee and fellow driver Mark Donnelly (17), from Omagh and his co-driver Paddy Robinson competed on selected rounds of the FST Ireland series in 2008, picking up some vital rallying experience. With good results from both young drivers, the Galway International Rally will give them the chance to prove their talent with both looking to take an early points advantage on the series opener.

Desi Henry (19) from Port Glenone, Co. Antrim made his first appearance in the series during the Ulster Rally last year. On his first event in the car he brought it home safely - his main aim - and will now look to build on his speed and challenge for serious places and prize money. Henry will be partnered by navigator John Rowan.

Liam Regan (20) from Belfast has decided to switch surfaces for the year and take on the FST Ireland series. The FST UK regular has opted for a chance to make his own pacenotes and expand his Tarmac experience. With plenty of seat time already under his belt, Regan has a good chance to score well on Round 1.

The Galway International Rally also sees the introduction of three new crews: Craig Breen (18) from Waterford, Shane Buckley from Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, and Garrett Loughran (32) from Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone. Breen is the son of former Forestry Champion and 2008 Irish National Champion Ray Breen, and this rally sees the young Irishman begin his career in the FST. After a successful karting career, Breen is looking forward to his first full championship attack at rallying. Buckley used to navigate for his brother, Tadhg, and has now decided to swap seats for 2009. Buckley has competed in plenty of events leading up to the first round to ensure he could qualify for the required competition licence and, with this now secured, he will be hoping to finish well in Galway. Loughran has only recently acquired his car and, after following the series in 2008, has decided to try it out for himself.

After the success of the E85 Bioethanol fuel used in last year’s championship, the series will again link up with Maxol, Ireland’s oldest and foremost independent oil company. The series aims to maintain its ‘green’ image that it has built up over the past 12 months.

2009 will also see the partnership with Pirelli continue, who will supply the control tyre for the championship. Pirelli’s control tyre for the FST series allows M-Sport to work on more initiatives to benefit competitors in the future as well as reducing overall costs for competitors.

Crews will compete for prize-money on each event of the series with the top eight sharing a total of €2,925 per round.

Time and Distance Schedule

Posted: January 12, 2009 11:49 AM

Posted: January 9, 2009 12:21 PM

Alan Fair (Operations Manager, Safety Direct)
Bobby Clinton (Galway Motor Club) Gary Leonard (Clerk of the Course)
John O Connell (President of Galway Motor Club) Victor Farrell (Dep COC)
Photo: James Burke

Posted: January 9, 2009 12:17 PM

Darren Gass/Martin Brady in McKinstry S11 among the late entries

Posted: January 6, 2009 3:38 PM

A number of late entries have been received for the Safety Direct Galway International Rally 2009, including Darren Gass/Martin Brady in a McKinstry S11.

Other late entries include Mark Alcorn (2.0 Corolla RWD) and Peter Wilson (Civic)

More Details:


Posted: January 5, 2009 1:45 AM

For the tourist, the trip from Galway to Cork is a scenic three hour drive through the mid west. For the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship the journey from next weeks Galway International Rally to the Cork 20 International Rally in October will be a far more demanding and exciting journey. These are the first and final rounds of Irelands premier Tarmac Rally Championship, with six other events interspersed - Circuit of Ireland, Killarney Rally of the Lakes, Jim Clark, Donegal, Isle of Man and Ulster rallies. These are some of the finest rallies in Europe. Where else can you find classic stages to compare with Killarneys Molls Gap, Knockalla with its magnificent views over Donegal Bay or the mountain challenge of the Isle of Mans Brandywell test?

For 2009 the rallies that make up the “Tarmac” are the same as last year, but TROA, the championship organisers, have introduced a number of changes that reflect the present economic times.

Don Wilmont the Championship Manager explains. "TROA had to take into account the uncertain impact of the current economic downturn. While we fully recognise the contribution that WRC cars have made to the history of the Championship, at the same time we are trying to encourage competitors to consider the newer Super 1600 and 2000 cars as a more economical option." As a result the scoring system has been changed for 2009. The rally winner will receive 16 points (previously 15pts) – There is no change to the scores for 2nd (12) 3rd (10) 4th (8) etc. However, bonus points will be introduced for drivers of Group N, Super 1600 and Super 2000 cars. A system of 3,2,1 bonus points will be introduced for the first three non WRC cars in the final classification. So if a WRC car wins a ”Tarmac” round, the winner gets 16 points and if the runner up is using a Group N /Super 2000/Super 1600, then driver gets 15 pts.(12+3) .

In addition there will be a new competition for modified cars entered in the national class run in conjunction with the International rallies. This new award known as the Tarmac Trophy Challenge, will be run on the six rounds of the Championship held on the island of Ireland, with the best five scores to count. The Tarmac Trophy will not apply to the Isle of Man or the Kelso based Jim Clark rounds of the Championship.”

Next weekend the Tarmac Championship kicks off with the Safety Direct Galway International Rally which is based in the Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit. There are 9 stages in the Abbeyknockmoy area of North Galway on Saturday. On Sunday the competitors will tackle 8 stages in the South Galway area around Gort, Service during both days will be at the Deerpark Industrial Estate in Oranmore.

World championship regular Conrad Rautenbach is the top seed in his Citreon Xsara WRC followed by another WRC Competitor, Aaron Burkart in his Suzuki Swift S1600. Behind these two is a high quality field of Irish drivers headed by 2008 “Tarmac Champion” Eamonn Boland, who is back to defend his crown. Other WRC mounted former champions listed include Eugene Donnelly, Derek Mc Garrity and Austin Mc Hale. Add in the pretenders to the MacHale crown Aaron and Gareth, Kevin Lynch,Tim McNulty and Padear Hurson and there is clearly going to be a tight battle for overall honours.

The stone wall lined roads of the Galway International traditionally provide a very stern challenge for the Championship contenders. In the 30 year history of the Irish Tarmac Championship, the Galway winner has gone on to take the title on eleven occasions. Who knows, perhaps the driver at the top of the podium in Galway this year will become the twelfth Tarmac Champion, when the journey to Cork is completed in early October.

Revised Entry List

Posted: December 26, 2008 11:15 AM

Entry List revised to take into account FIA seeded drivers

Top 20
1 Conrad Rautenbach /Daniel Barritt (Citroen Xsara WRC)
2 Aaron Burkart/Michael Koelbach (Suzuki Swift S1600)
3 Eamonn Boland /MJ Morrissey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
4 Gareth MacHale /Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
5 Kevin Lynch /Francis Regan (Subaru Impreza WRC)
6 Eugene Donnelly /Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC)
7 Tim McNulty /Eugene O'Donnell (Subaru Impreza WRC)
8 Derek McGarrity /Dairmuid Falvey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
9 Peadar Hurson /Damien Connolly (Subaru Impreza WRC)
10 Aaron MacHale /Killian Duffy (Ford Focus WRC)
11 Austin Machale /TBA (Ford Focus WRC)
12 Kevin Kelleher /Martin Kelleher (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
14 Damien Tourish /Domhnall McAlaney (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
15 James Foley /Andrew Cullen (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
16 Gary McPhillips /Paul Sheridan (Ford Escort Mk2)
17 Wesley Patterson /Martin McGarrity (Ford Escort Mk2)
18 Martin McGee /Arthur Kierans (Ford Escort Mk2)
19 Manus Kelly /Donall Barrett (Ford Escort Mk2)
20 Mike Bird /Kevin Keane (Subaru Impreza WRC)
21 Anthony O'Halloran /Charlie McEnery (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
22 Sean Flanagan /Brian Duggan (Subaru Impreza N12)

Full Entry list available via:

Closing Date for Entries Extended to December 20th

Posted: December 11, 2008 5:55 PM

Closing Date for The Safety Direct Galway International Rally has been extended until Saturday 20th December 2008

All Entries Welcome.

Fiesta Challenge moves to day 1

Posted: December 2, 2008 3:24 PM

The M- Sport backed Fiesta Challenge will kick off on January 17th next on day 1 of the Safety Direct Galway International Rally. The change is as a result of negotiations between Galway Motor Club and M – Sport.
It is hoped that the changes will help to freshen up the series and encourage more young drivers enter the full Tarmac Championship round and also try the series as a one day event.
It is expected to have up to 12 entries for the 2009 Fiesta Challenge, with day 1 in Galway as a counting round and drivers having an option to compete on day 2.
M – Sport and the TROA are hopeful that the changes for 09 will provide excellent value for competitors.
Galway Motor Club are committed to providing competitors with a top class event for the opening round of the Global Group Tarmac Rally Championship 09.

Further information is available on

the Safety Direct Galway International Rally 2009 Launched!

Posted: November 24, 2008 3:09 PM

The official launch of the Safety Direct Galway International Rally 2009, was held in the Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit, Galway on Friday last, November 21st. A large number of guests from the local Galway area and the world of motorsport, were in attendance to hear Gary Leonard, the Clerk of the Course and Alan Fair of title sponsors, Safety Direct announce details of the upcoming event.

The rally takes place over the weekend of January 16th,17th and 18th 2009 and will have its administrative headquarters in the Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit, Galway. The rally gets underway with a Ceremonial Start in Eyre Square on Friday night, which is always a fantastic occasion and a great opportunity to see the top 20 cars and teams before they hit the stages on Saturday. A new feature for the 09 rally will be a single location for centralised service during both days. The Deerpark Industrial Estate in Oranmore will be the location, where mechanical scrutiny and parc ferme will also be held over the weekend.

The organisers are confident that a single location will lead to a considerable reduction in traffic movements over the weekend.

There are 17 challenging and demanding stages awaiting the competitors. The rally will visit North Galway on Saturday the 17th, with 9 stages in the Abbeyknockmoy area. The stages will each be run 3 times, with 2 visits to service in Oranmore during the day. Sunday the 18th will see the competitors tackle 8 stages in the South Galway area, around Gort before the winning car returns to the finish ramp in Eyre Square on Sunday evening.

Derek McGarrity attended the launch and confirmed his intention to enter the rally. Derek also stated that he hopes to have a new car from Pro- Drive, ready for Galway in January. When asked if he would win, Derek replied “ I’m going to have a good go at it”

The MacHale brothers, Gareth and Aaron will also be competing in Galway. We hope to see Gareth in the Opel Corsa Super 2000. Tim McNulty has also confirmed that he will be back on the Galway stages in January.

What a fantastic lineup to start the 2009 Global Group Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. A full entry list will be published after entries have closed on December the 8th. To run an event of this size needs a huge number of volunteers and 1 lucky Marshal will win a day in Rally School Ireland to complete the Rally Licence Course. The prize is very kindly sponsored by Securitec Security Systems, Galway.

For further information please go to

Posted: November 24, 2008 3:07 PM

Alan Fair (Operations Manager of Safety Direct) and
Gary Leonard (Clerk of the Course)
Photo Courtesy of Safety Direct

Galway International Rally Announces Major Sponsorship Deal and 2009 Rally Dates

Posted: November 15, 2008 7:57 AM

The Galway Motor Club is delighted to announce the return of Safety Direct as the title sponsor of the Galway International rally for the next three years. The Galway based safety equipment supplier began it's association with the event in 2008 and the success of the rally encouraged them to return for the 2009 and future events. The sponsorship will see Safety Direct provide invaluable resources, an extensive range of safety equipment and financial backing until 2011 in this exciting three year sponsorship deal.

Speaking at the announcement Alan Fair, Operations Manager of Safety Direct, commented “We are delighted to support such an exciting event which brings thousands of spectators to Galway at a time when tourism is at a low. The logistics behind organising the event are colossal and the event takes over six months of planning. Ensuring fail safe security and safety for all involved is always the highest priority of the Galway Motor Club, and being in the business of safety we are very impressed with the measures the organisers and Club go to in these regards”.

Gary Leonard, Clerk of the Course for the 2009 event, stated “This year will be a unique Galway rally as it will showcase some exclusive cars and drivers ahead of the Irish round of the World Rally Championship, opening round of the 2009 series. We can expect some thrilling competition as professional drivers test run their motors and amateur drivers contend their positions. We are delighted Safety Direct is onboard for what should be a highlight in the Irish international rally calendar”.

The event , traditionally a February event, will run on new dates in 2009, from 16th to the 18th of January. It will again have the administrative headquarters at the impressive Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit, Galway. The Ceremonial start will take place in Eyre Square on Friday 16th January with competitors returning to Eyre Square for the finish ramp on Sunday 18th January.

The Saturday stages (January 17th) will run in the North Galway area while the stages on Sunday the 18th will move to South Galway. A new feature for the rally in 2009 will be a single centralised service and re-fuelling area at Deerpark Industrial Estate, Oranmore on both days. The premises, a short drive from Rally HQ will also be used as the location for mechanical scrutiny and parc ferme. The organisers are confident that a single Service Park will help to reduce traffic movements over the 3 days of the event.

The official launch night will be held in the Clayton hotel on Friday the 21st of November at 7.30pm, all are welcome.

On Line Entry opened

Posted: November 12, 2008 10:08 AM

On Line Entry opens Monday 10th November

Posted: November 5, 2008 5:38 PM

Entries will Open on midnight Monday 10th November 2008 and will be by EVO online entry system, via a link from the Rally Website:

Galway International Rally (16-18 Jan 09) - Launch Night - Fri 21 Nov 08

Posted: November 5, 2008 5:32 PM

Centralised Scrutiny/Parc Ferme/Service/Refuelling for Safety Direct Galway Rally

Posted: November 5, 2008 5:29 PM

The 2009 Safety Direct Galway Rally will feature a Centralised Scrutiny/Parc Ferme/Service/Refuelling area in Oranmore, just outide Galway City for the entire rally.

Galway Rally 2009 - 16-18 Jan 09

Posted: September 18, 2008 5:18 PM

The 2009 Galway Rally will take place on the weekend of the 17th and 18th of January

New Date for 2009 Galway Rally?

Posted: May 23, 2008 2:55 PM

With Rally Ireland taking place on January 29th to February 1st, Galway Motor Club have applied for a new date in 2009 - January 16th-18th.

This new date puts the rally 2 weeks before Rally Ireland, the opening round of the 2009 World Rally Championship

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