Circuit of Ireland International Rally - 11-12 Apr 09

Posted: April 18, 2009 10:17 PM - 44580 Hits

Round 2 - 2009 Tarmac Rally Championship
Round 3 - 2009 Northern Ireland Rally Championship
Round 2 - 2009 MSA Asphalt Rally Series
Rounds 3 & 4 - 2009 Irish Evolution Challenge
Round 2 - 2009 Irish Fiesta Sporting Trophy

  • Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner win Circuit of Ireland

Posted: April 18, 2009 10:17 PM

Photo: Roy Dempster

In Car......

Posted: April 18, 2009 10:17 PM

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Posted: April 16, 2009 5:37 PM


Posted: April 16, 2009 12:41 PM

There were mixed fortunes for Kenny McKinstry and daughter Emma on the Easter weekend Circuit of Ireland. Things went well for Kenny who led the event from start to finish, despite a last minute scare with gearbox troubles over the last two stages. For Emma and co-driver Kenny hull however, things didn’t go so well.

Day one saw Emma put in consistent times and spend most of the day in fourth position overall, setting third fastest time on her local stage. The last two stages of the day saw heavy rainfall, caught out on the wrong tyre, Emma had no choice but to back off and get through the stages. The time loss would see Emma drop back to sixth overall at the overnight halt, but only five seconds off Denis Biggerstaff, there was still a lot to play for on day two.

Day two started in sunshine, using the more technical stages in south Armagh, Emma was in confident form and was determined to try and claw her way back up the leader board.

However, it wasn’t to last as less than a mile into the first stage of the day, Emma was caught out on a wet patch of road on cold tyres and slid off the road and out of the event, “when we hit this damp patch of road the back of the car snapped away from me, I corrected the slide, but it seems this pushed my front wheels onto some gravel on the road, as soon as my tyres caught the grass on the side of the road I was a passenger”. The car slid down a steep bank and was wedged against a tree in a small stream, “it’s so frustrating”, commented Emma, “it seems that other people had problems on this stage which may have pushed us further up the leader board, but it’s just one of these things”.

Emma and Kenny would like to thank all the people who made it possible for them to enter this event, regular sponsors Triton Showers, Dunlop Tyres, McGaffin Contracts, Tom Geraghty Tyres, Sunoco race fuels and ID graphics. And a special thanks to all the local businesses who lent their support for this event, Nicholl Transport, Shoefair Sports, The Windsor Bakery, The Downshire Arms Hotel, Fred Elliot Butchers and William Bell Limousine Hire, without all these peoples support it would not have been possible.

Disappointed with the result but encouraged by their pace, Emma and Kenny now move their attention to the remaining seven rounds of the championship and hope for better luck to come.


Posted: April 16, 2009 11:59 AM

Eugene Donnelly took his second Circuit of Ireland Rally victory on the Easter weekend, and it’s the second victory in a row for Eugene, his co-driver Paddy Toner and the Skoda Fabia WRC. It’s a win that puts the pair firmly in the lead in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, going into the third round in Killarney. With four tarmac titles under his belt, could Eugene equal Austin MacHale’s all time record of five? The Circuit of Ireland victory also boosts Eugene’s Irish Tarmac Championship rally winning tally to sixteen, a formidable figure for the likeable Maghera driver.

Whilst the victory on the opening round in Galway was in horrendous conditions, morning sunshine greeted the crews for the Easter Saturday start in Banbridge for the Circuit of Ireland. Eugene’s rally got off to a good start, fastest on stage one. “We had a really good test in the car on Thursday night. The McGeehan team had really worked with me to get the car really good on the bumps, as this is where I reckoned if we could carry speed it would be a real advantage. We also planned the event carefully regarding the stages, and when we were going to make changes. We were a bit worried about the weather though, that if it was dry we thought that the Subaru’s would have the legs on us, and it did turn out dry.”

Eugene’s predictions looked to be correct as after stage two, the legendary Hamilton’s Folly, the Subaru’s of Derek McGarrity and Peader Hurson where one-two, but only one second separated the top three. At the first Banbridge service, Phillip Moynihan from Ears Motorsport advised the move up to a harder compound of Kumho Tyre, with slight cuts being put into them with a knife blade. It was a well advised move, as Eugene pounced on the lead with two superb runs through the repeat Lough Island Reavy and Hamilton’s Folly stages. “The K11 compound Kumho tyres worked very well on the first tests, I was just being a bit cautious, but as things got warmer the move to the K21 compound was a good choice. Tyres were critical al weekend and I was really happy with the whole package of car, set up and tyres.”

It was on Hamilton’s Folly 2 that Eugene literally leaped the Digiprintz Fabia into a nine second lead, from Hurson and McGarrity. At this point Tim McNulty was fourth, reigning Tarmac Champion Eamonn Boland fifth, and Gareth MacHale sixth. However as the Skoda reached service the McGeehan mechanics were to pull out all the stops, and this is where Eugene feels the rally swung in his favour. “The final four stages of the day were a lot smoother and less jumpy, so we decided to change the set up completely on the car. The team lowered the ride height, changed the anti- roll bars and hardened up the suspension. This made a big difference to the car and it proved it.”

But the close of day one Eugene had pulled out a twenty five second advantage over Peader Hurson, with Eamonn Boland moving into third following Derek McGarrity’s retirement.

The first two stages of Easter Sunday where on the tricky Slieve Gullion mountain drive, and Eugene played it cautiously, soon discovering that second placed Hurson had failed to start day two due to an oil leak on the Subaru. The Fabia again received some major set up changes at service for the final four Sunday stages, which were known to be challenging, very bumpy and in places very easy to punish the driver for a momentary lapse in concentration.
“We just had to play it carefully at times, but not go too steady either, as Eamonn wasn’t too far back. The wee car was working well though and it didn’t miss a beat, and Paddy was doing a superb job. On one of those stages he had to read twenty- six pages of pace notes in nine miles!”

The Kumho Tyres too were suiting the conditions, and as Eugene reeled of the final miles, they arrived at the Dundalk finish for a momentous victory, in the slightly outdated Fabia WRC. “It’s really all down to the team this weekend. We had a great team, from Padriac Price on the gravel notes, to Derek and the boys servicing, the Kumho Tyres people and of course Paddy who was super on the notes. I am really looking forward to Killarney now in May, and we hope to continue out title race.”

The Killarney Rally of the Lakes marks round three of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, Ireland’s premier motorsport championship. Eugene has won the event in the past, but it’s been a few years since he has climbed the top spot on the podium. The faster, smoother roads might not suit the wee Fabia as well, but as it is re-fettled in his Draperstown workshop, Derek McGeehan will be doing everything to make the car as fast as it has been in Galway and on the Circuit.

Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland - Neil McCance takes victory on both rounds.

Posted: April 14, 2009 9:33 PM

Neil McCance and co-driver Sean Ferris scored back-to-back resounding victories in rounds three and four of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland – the Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally - which took place over the Easter weekend. They led the nine-car field of Group N (production class) Mitsubishis right from the start and drove a near perfect rally, McCance pleased to have lost none of his form after recovering from an operation a few weeks ago.

Prior to the event, organisers of the Evolution Challenge were delighted to see entries more than double since the opening two rounds in West Cork. The pay-as-you go registration – rather than a start-of-season up-front payment option – proving to be popular amongst competitors.

The two-day circuit of Ireland is one of the country’s classic events and, although based in Dundalk, all of the competitive mileage was situated north of the border. The two-day format saw round three of the Evo Challenge take place over Saturday’s eight special stages and round four over Sunday’s four, longer and more technical tests, with points allocated for each day and the awards for the weekend based on aggregate scores from both rounds.

Round Three
Making a welcome return to the Mitsubishi series after taking the title last year, Brendan Cumiskey and co-driver Richard Hyland – who was drafted in just before the event – were the top seeded crew in the Evo Challenge. However, their rally didn’t last long, when the car landed so heavily following one of the notorious jumps in stage one, the bottom of the radiator split.

Even with suspension damage as well, Cumiskey managed to get the car out of the stage and top up the radiator, but the engine overheated in SS2 and he and Hyland had no choice but to stop at the side of the road.

Although admitting to be apprehensive after having a kidney removed six weeks beforehand, McCance was back on the pace straight away and was quickest on Saturday’s opening stage by 20 seconds, ahead of Geoff McMahon/Robert Graham. Just three seconds behind were Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont, who were getting used to their brand-new Evo IX, and William Mavitty/Keefe Kilkoyne who were impressing in their Evo VI.

With SS2 cancelled because of an incident in the National B category of the rally, Evo Challenge crews counted just three of the four stages before the lunch-time service halt, where most crews reported that the undulating roads required high levels of concentration for both the driver and co-driver, many reporting narrow escapes or overshoots.

McCance/Ferris increased their advantage to 56 seconds ahead of Carmichael/Lamont, who were gathering pace having adjusted the suspension settings on their new car, even though an intercooler pipe had been damaged on a jump and the intercom had stopped working for a while. McMahon./Graham were now third, whilst Mavitty/Kilkoyne held onto fourth after having to contend with severe brake judder.

The afternoon’s four stages featured another two runs of two and, although with slightly more flowing roads, crews still found themselves subject to overshoots and spins – particularly on the final two stages when the rain started to fall. For the earlier runners the surface was mainly dry, but for the later crews the wet conditions made a significant difference, especially as all were caught out on slick tyres.

McCance/Ferris had such an advantage, their slower times were still enough to see them retain the lead ahead of Carmichael/Lamont. Stanley Ballantine/Donnacha O’Callaghan had been gathering pace all day and claimed third place ahead of Mavitty/Kilcoyne, who dropped time following a spin on the final stage.

McMahon/Graham lost a certain podium position on the wet roads, where as Alan and Gavin Burrows spun on the entry to a junction in SS8 and clouted a bank. Although damaging a number of components, they eventually made it to the finish in seventh place. In contrast, Tom White/Robert Murray and Liam Egan – with new co-driver Mary O’Kane - had clean runs during the day to finish sixth and eighth respectively.

Round three results           
1  Neil McCance (Comber)/Sean Ferris (Omagh)  1:05:29.5
2 Alan Carmichael (Ballymena)/Ivor Lamont (Ballymena) 1:06:14.9
3  Stanley Ballantine (Strabane)/Donnacha O’Callaghan (Mallow) 1:07:17.3
4  William Mavitty (Eniskillen)/Keefe Kilcoyne (Westport) 1:07:42.1
5  Geoff McMahon (Armagh)/Robert Graham (Armagh) 1:07:55.0
6  Thomas White (Foulksmills)/Robert Murphy (New Ross) 1:09:03.1
7  Alan Burrows (Ballynahinch)/Gavin Burrows (Ballynahinch) 1:09:40.2
8  Liam Egan (New York)/Mary O’Kane (Maghera) 1:11:14.5

SS2  Brendan Cumiskey (Dundalk)/Richard Hyland (Omagh) Engine

Round Four
Although longer than those featured on Saturday, there was no let up for crews for Sunday’s four stages which again, saw a loop of two stages run twice. McCance/Ferris carried on from where they left off and, at the interim service halt, they were 14 seconds up on McMahon/Graham who were fourth, albeit after the cross-shaft in the transmission had snapped, meaning that they had to continue with just two-wheel-drive.

Carmichael/Lamont were just one second behind in third, but another hard landing following one of the event’s treacherous jumps had broken a rear damper and frantic activity ensued in the service area to try and find a replacement. Sportingly, Mavitty/Kilcoyne – who were in fourth place - came to the rescue with a spare unit, a gesture which saw them win the Sunoco Spirit award.

Unfortunately for White/Murphy the first stage of the day was the end of the road, when the car stepped out of line after a crest, clipped a bank and rolled. The same fate also befell Burrows/Burrows, when they retired in similar fashion a stage later.

Ballantine/O’Callaghan were another not to make it back to Dundalk, when their car’s engine lost its power on the penultimate stage – a cruel blow as they also suffered an 11th hour retirement in West Cork.

Egan/O’Kane were another crew to be affected by technical issues when their car’s turbo-charger lost its boost and had to be replaced at the service halt. However, they made it to the finish and in doing so, Egan became the only driver to have scored points on every round and now leads the championship.

With just one stage to go, it all looked like plain sailing for McCance/Ferris. But just two miles from the end they clipped a rock on the inside of a hairpin and punctured the right front tyre. Although having to drop their pace, they were still able to record their second Evo Challenge victory in as many days, this time by a respectable margin of 56 seconds.

“It’s been an excellent weekend”, said McCance at the finish. “A few weeks ago I didn’t think I would be back in a rally car so soon and to take two Evo Challenge wins makes it even better. It’s certainly a great boost to my recovery process!”

Round four results           
1  Neil McCance (Comber)/Sean Ferris (Omagh) 37:15.2
2 Alan Carmichael (Ballymena)/Ivor Lamont (Ballymena) 38:11.7
3  William Mavitty (Eniskillen)/Keefe Kilcoyne (Westport) 39:09.7
4  Geoff McMahon (Armagh)/Robert Graham (Armagh) 39:10.4
5  Liam Egan (New York)/Mary O’Kane (Maghera) 44:27.2

SS12  Thomas White (Foulksmills)/Robert Murphy (New Ross) Accident
SS13  Alan Burrows (Ballynahinch)/Gavin Burrows (Ballynahinch) Accident
SS13  Stanley Ballantine (Strabane)/Donnacha O’Callaghan (Mallow) Engine

Round five of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland takes place on 24th May, the Cavan Stages being the first the season’s one-day events.

The 2009 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland is also supported by: Pirelli tyres, Sunoco fuel, James Foley Rallysport, Carbone Lorraine brake pads, Murray Motorsport, Speedline Corse wheels, PIAA lights, Pacenotes, Sparco racewear and Mitsubishi Motors Ireland.

John McGlaughlin wins Group N in the National B category of the Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally!

Posted: April 14, 2009 9:29 PM

Cookstown's John McGlaughlin secured another Group N victory at this year's Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally, giving his N.I. Championship campaign the kick-start it needed!

Contesting the National B category, John and navigator Crawford Henderson were determined to secure a good result at this Easter's event. The opening two rounds of this year's Northern Ireland Rally Championship proved to be difficult events for John, as he retired from round one and only scored a handful of points at round two.

The Circuit of Ireland started well for the Cookstown driver, as he powered his McGlaughlin's Bakery Mitsubishi Lancer to second in Group N after the opening stage. Only a couple of seconds adrift of his main rival, John knew he was in fine fettle, and quickly powered his way into the top spot. Then, on stage six, a broken driveshaft dropped him down the order, leaving him with a small mountain to climb.

"The driveshaft broke at the start of stage six," John recalled. "Basically we had to drive nine miles with three wheel drive, and lost something like 35 seconds, but luckily we were able to go to service after the stage."

John's dramas continued during leg one's final two stages. It started to rain while he was on the start line of stage seven, and caught out on the wrong Kumho tyres, the Cookstown driver lost time with two overshoots during the test.

"I thought it was game over," John explained, "but we were only three seconds slower than our main rival, Neil McCance, at the end of the stage. So we went into the next stage with more confidence and I managed to take eight or nine seconds out of him."

Still in with a chance of Group N victory, John and Crawford entered Sunday's stages on a mission. They took a gamble on their tyre choice on Sunday morning and it paid off when the sponsored crew swiped a massive 11 seconds out of their rivals after the day's second stage.

"We had a real good run on that stage," McGlaughlin admitted. "It was very tight, twisty and narrow - the sort of stage that suits me. That left 18 seconds between us and Neil, so it was game on!"

John pushed hard over the final two tests, and on stage 13, he took another four seconds out of his rival. Going into the final stage, he knew he needed another giant killing act to be in with a chance of victory. He had taken 11 seconds out of his rival on the same stage earlier in the day, so another no holds barred attack was on the cards!

"We missed two gears on the final stage but we were still 17 seconds quicker than we were on the previous run," McGlaughlin said. "We set fastest overall time on the stage and won Group N by eight seconds. Neil cut a corner one mile from the finish and got a puncture so he dropped some time - I'd rather have beaten him fair and square but that's the way it goes sometimes."

"Sunday was a perfect day for us," McGlaughlin continued. "It was really good, I wish we had more days like that! Apart from the driveshaft breaking on Saturday, we had no major problems. I think I made some notes too cautious for the bumps and dips on Saturday's stages but it all came good in the end. A big thanks must go to Crawford Henderson and McNeill Motorsport for all of their hard work."

The result gives John maximum Sunoco Fuels Group N points for the Northern Ireland Rally Championship, giving his series campaign a major boost. The McGlaughlin team, who are also sponsored by Bush Filling Station, will be back in action at round four of the championship, May's KBB Tour of the Sperrins Rally.

Fiesta SportTrophy - Breen flies to Victory on the Circuit!

Posted: April 14, 2009 9:27 PM

The second round of the Fiesta SportTrophy (FST) Ireland took place over weekend as crew’s competed on the Larsen Circuit of Ireland International Rally. Eleven fiesta crews started the event that was based in Dundalk. The event, which is organised by The Ulster Automobile Club, saw FST crews take part in a gruelling day of asphalt action, and after eight stages it was Craig Breen (18) from Waterford and navigator Gareth Roberts who clinched the victory after an exciting days rallying.

Crews awoke to bright blue skies but cold conditions. The first stage of the event Lough Island Reavy at 8.71 miles caused drama from the word go. Garrett Loughran and navigator Philip Loughran from Ballygawley were caught out after only a few stage miles. Outbraking himself into a square right the newcomer hit a wall and his ST sustained too much damage to continue, meanwhile Stephen Wright and stand in navigator, his sister, Susanne Wright were the first to suffer a driveshaft failure on the bumpy roads of the event. After taking the decision to drive on to attempt to reach service the pairing broke the other shaft meaning they had no option but to retire. Liam Regan (20) from Belfast and co-driver Steven Park would set the quickest time over the stage at 8.37.2, a perfect start for the newcomer to the tarmac for 2009. Mark Donnelly (17) from Omagh and Paddy Robinson would stop the clocks 1.9 seconds slower and Shane Buckley (24) from Ballyhaunis with navigator Thomas Maguire would be third quickest only 0.9 seconds adrift from Donnelly.

Stage two, the 12.90 miles of Hamilton’s Folly saw Donnelly take the fastest stage time and the lead of the event coming into the first service. Craig Breen (18) from Waterford and navigator Gareth Roberts took second quickest time on the stage, with Regan claiming third fastest. Paul Quinn (20) from Dungannon and navigator Andy Mahon broke their gear cables on the stage and were forced to drive the whole test stuck in second gear dropping them precious time and down the standings.

After the first service crews headed out for a second loop of the mornings stages. Stage three would see Breen take the quickest time after getting back into his stride, also reports of a wrong tyre choice on the first loop of stages explained why he dropped some time. Buckley would be second quickest and Donnelly third quickest.

Stage four would see the retirement of another newcomer to the series. Robbie Barrable (21) from Dublin and navigator Seamus O’Grady would be forced to take to the sidelines after gearbox failure. Meanwhile, Donnelly would be quickest on the stage; 10 seconds adrift would be Breen and third quickest would go to Regan. Buckley reported low fuel level and had to find a petrol station to ensure he got back to the service, this confusion meant he dropped time in the stage.

At the midpoint of the day the overall standings were Donnelly, Breen, Regan and then Buckley. Although Quinn had continued after his earlier problem the second service saw him forced to retire with clutch failure.

Only four stages remained and going into Stage five, The Hard Hill, at 8.79 miles there would be another retirement of one of the front runners, Liam Regan would see his promising run come to an end after a ball joint came out of the hub sending the Northern Irishman into a bank and out of the event. Buckley would take the stage victory after an incredible time nearly 20 seconds quicker than Donnelly and Breen, although both of these reported a spin and an overshoot in the stage. Desi Henry (19) from Port Glenone and John Rowan took second quickest on the stage, an impressive time from the ever improving youngster. Donnelly would finish the stage third quickest 0.5 seconds quicker than 20 year Old series regular Kyle Orr and navigator Tony McDaid. Breen would be 0.3 seconds slower than Orr.

Stage 6, Shinn Bridge at 8.87 miles saw Donnelly drop 17 seconds to Breen. Although Donnelly reported no problems he quoted he just could not get into the rhythm of the stage. This meant Breen would take the lead coming into service with only two stages remaining. Buckley would be second quickest and Donnelly third fastest. Orr would unfortunately retire on the stage with the bumpy roads causing a driveshaft failure putting him out of the event, the same fate would see Henry retire from the event after showing some promise for a good points finish.

Heading out for the final two stages it meant only four competitors remained. The positions were, Breen first, leading Donnelly by 5.4 seconds, and Buckley third, 7.2 seconds further adrift. The final newcomer to the series for this event was a second Mark Donnelly, the 17 year old also from Omagh is a former British, Irish and European Quad champion. With his only aim to get competitive mileage under his belt, the youngster was under no pressure in fourth and an ideal situation to complete his goal.

The penultimate stage, a re-run of stage 6 saw Donnelly take 3.4 seconds out of Breen’s lead, leaving only a two second gap between the leading pair heading into the final stage. Buckley would stop the clocks only 0.9 seconds slower than Breen meaning the top three would all be close enough to fight for overall victory on the final stage.

With the weather looking changeable Breen finished the final stage (Shinn Bridge 2) on 9.12.5. With spots of rain starting to fall, a damp corner caught out the second place man causing an overshoot, losing him his front bumper and 13 seconds to Breen and even more disappointing the overall victory. As Buckley entered the stage the rain was falling heavily meaning he would drop considerable time and finish in a solid third overall. Breen would therefore take his first FST IE victory after an intense battle with Donnelly. The second Donnelly would complete the stage and finish his debut event in the FST in a fine fourth overall.

Breen decided to use the FST dual format to his advantage and would carry on during day two in a bid to score Irish Tarmac Championship points, and chase the overall Group N victory which he had led during the day, outshining some impressive machinery, however, with even more bumpy stages on day two the youngster was caught out on a 2 right on the first stage of the day, and rolled into retirement.
Event Winner, Craig Breen said:
“It was a really good event, I am very happy. Mark [Donnelly] really pushed us hard during the day and it was a great battle, I loved it. We both made some mistakes during the day but I was over the moon to see we had done enough on the final stage to allow me to take my first FST Ireland victory. I am thrilled, and the car was brilliant, setting some stage times quicker than some very expensive machinery. Overall it was just a great day!”

Circuit of Ireland Final Positions
1 Craig Breen Gareth Roberts 1:20:10.9 -
2 Mark Donnelly Paddy Robinson 1:20:25.8 + 14.9
3 Shane Buckley Thomas Maguire 1:22:05.5 + 1:40.7
4 Mark Donnelly Eugene O’Kane 1:32:06.1 + 10:00.5
5 Robbie Barrable Seamus O’Grady DNF -
6 Desi Henry John Rowan DNF -
7 Garrett Loughran Philip Loughran DNF -
8 Liam Regan Steven Park DNF -
9 Kyle Orr Tony McDaid DNF -
10 Steven Wright Susanne Wright DNF -
11 Paul Quinn Andy Mahon DNF -

Kenny McKinstry wins the National B category of the 2009 Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally!

Posted: April 14, 2009 9:25 PM

Kenny McKinstry and Noel Orr claimed an emphatic victory in the National B category of this year's Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally, round three of the Hankook MSA N.I. Stage Rally Championship!

The Easter rally weekend spectacular saw the Banbridge driver lead the event from start to finish, and despite some last minute dramas, he claimed the rally honours by more than three minutes from Wesley Patterson and Martin McGarrity!

"A hose burst on the gearbox with two stages to go," Kenny recalled. "She was losing oil but we managed to do a temporary fix which got us to the finish. We were using manual shift, had no anti-lag and the differentials weren't working because there was no oil to make them work!"

Kenny's mechanical expertise saved the day, but he wasn't alone in his dramas. Early in the event, Seamus Leonard and John McCafferty were holding second overall, less than two seconds behind McKinstry, when a heavy landing saw them drop down the leaderboard.

"The car just cut out after the jump," Leonard explained. "We cruised to a halt at a junction and the spectators pushed us out of the way. A wire from the starter button to the starter had disconnected, so we reconnected it but by that stage we had lost three minutes."

Leonard mounted a comeback charge, and despite breaking a driveshaft, he was fourth overall at the end of day one. Just 40 seconds adrift of second placed Wesley Patterson and third placed Adrian Hetherington, he had the Mark 2 Escort drivers in his sights.

Meanwhile, second placed Patterson had been embroiled in a battle for the runner-up spot with Adrian Hetherington throughout day one. It was Hetherington who held the early advantage, but Patterson moved into the runner-up spot after the day's final stage. Hetherington finished leg one in third ahead of Seamus Leonard, with Denis Biggerstaff fifth in front of Emma McKinstry.

Rally leader Kenny McKinstry continued to set the pace at the start of day two but there were almost immediate dramas for Seamus Leonard. The Omagh driver noticed something was amiss with his car's engine, and midway through the Carrickrovaddy stage, his Impreza ground to a halt.

"I noticed the engine revs were dropping off," Leonard explained. "Then there was a loud bang and we coasted to a halt. It's an engine problem which is very frustrating as it had only covered 52 miles!"

Third placed Adrian Hetherington was also in trouble during that opening test when he put his Escort off the road and into a ditch. He wasn't alone in his ditch hugging efforts, as Emma McKinstry also slipped her Impreza WRC into a ditch. Emma was forced into retirement but Hetherington managed to extract his Escort, although six minutes were lost.

After all the dramas, Wesley Patterson and Martin McGarrity held a comfortable second behind McKinstry, with Denis Biggerstaff and Damian McCann third. All three crews safely completed the remaining three stages, with McKinstry overcoming his mechanical problems to take the victory from Patterson, who also finished first in the Superdrive 2WD category, while Biggerstaff was third.

In the tussle for Sunoco Fuels Group N honours, Cookstown's John McGlaughlin and Crawford Henderson claimed a last gasp victory aboard their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. They had trailed Neil McCance and Sean Ferris throughout the event after losing time with a broken driveshaft, but mounted a charge during the second leg.

Bit by bit, they clawed back time, but going into the final stage, they were still 14 seconds adrift of the Comber driver. A massive charge through the test saw McGlaughlin set fastest time overall, and he moved in front of McCance to take the Group N category spoils. McCance had to settle for fifth after puncturing a tyre one mile from the finish of the final stage, while Camillus Bradley and Danny O'Neill completed the top six. Finally, in the Montgomery Motorsport historic category, Keith McIvor and David Burns claimed victory in their Porsche 911.

Donnelly extends his Irish Tarmac Rally Championship lead.

Posted: April 14, 2009 9:12 PM

Current Irish Tarmac Rally Championship leader Eugene Donnelly extends his lead following an emphatic victory on last weekend’s Larsen Circuit of Ireland, the second round of the Irish tarmac Rally Championship. Driving a Skoda Fabia WRC Donnelly finished the Easter classic forty eight seconds ahead of current Tarmac champion Eamon Boland (Subaru WRC). Third place was claimed by Gareth Mc Hale (Ford Focus WRC) who was 15 seconds adrift of Boland. Alan Carmichael won the showroom category for Group N cars in a Mitsubishi Lancer, ahead of the similar car of Rory Byrne. The 14 stage rally was held on the traditional Easter weekend. Based in Dundalk, with eight demanding stages on Saturday in south Down, including the daunting Hamilton’s Folly and six more stages on Sunday in the south Armagh area. While the stages were dry, there were slippery patches on the early Sunday tests.

Donnelly was fastest out of the box with the best time on the first stage on Saturday. Derek Mc Garrity and Peader Hurson lead the rally by small margins after stages two and three, but Donnelly got the Fabia really flying on Stage four to reclaim the lead, and he stayed in command to the finish. It is Donnelly’s second Circuit victory and he extends his Tarmac Championship lead to ten points. While the venerable Fabia handles very well it is known to be at a power disadvantage against the Fords and Subarus, but Donnelly is a four times Tarmac champion and is generally regarded as the most talented driver of his generation.

Eamon Boland won his first Circuit of Ireland last year and he crowned a great year by claiming his first ever Tarmac Championship. Having retired his Impreza with engine problems while leading this years Tarmac opener in Galway, the Wexford man will be glad he opened his account this weekend with a tally of 12 points.

For Gareth McHale, it is another case of what might have been. Like the first round in Galway he was slowed by niggly problems with the Focus on day one, very quick on day two, he was fastest on five of the six stages.

Tim Mc Nulty was quick on six stages, with a stage win, three seconds and two thirds but he dropped sufficient time on the other tests to be one minute off the podium places. The top five was completed by Darren Gass who suffered an overheating problem on stage four and he opted for a steady pace and seven Tarmac championship points.

The principal retirements were Peader Hurson and Derek Mc Garrity. Hurson led the rally after the third stage and was in a close second for most of the first day, but an oil leak in the Impreza WRC forced his retirement at final service on Saturday. Derek Mc Garrity was another early leader, and he had his Impreza WRC in the top three, but a puncture and a spin forced his retirement on stage eight.

In Group N, Tarmac Championship debutante Alan Carmicheal gets off to a great start, with first non WRC finisher bonus points added to his 6th overall tally and he currently shares the Group N lead with Sean Flanagan. Flanagan’s hired Impreza retired with broken transmission on stage six, while leading Group N. In Class 6A, current leader Daragh O'Riordans change of car from Opel Corsa to his recently acquired Renault Clio proved troublefree and he finished a fine 8th overall and first two wheel drive car home.

The Modified section saw Wesley Patterson extends his Modified challenge lead taking maximum Championship points from a fine second overall in the National B rally. In the Historics class, Championship leader from the first round in Galway, Philip Kerlin extends his advantage. The Post Historics was a family affair with father and daughter team Derek and Roisin Boyd pulling out a 2 point Championship lead from fellow Porsche driver Keith McIvor.


Posted: April 14, 2009 8:46 PM

MELVYN EVANS & SEAN MULLALLY (Subaru Impreza S11) have won the Larsen Circuit of Ireland National Rally outright, giving the Llanwrda driver his second consecutive maximum points score in the Richard Egger Insurance MSA Asphalt Rally Championship. The pair set fastest time on the opening stage of the two-day event and, by the time the cars filed into the finish in the main street of Dundalk, the winning margin had stretched to almost three minutes. This result, obviously, consolidates Melvyn’s lead of the series at this stage but there is still a great deal of work to be done if he is to remain there until its conclusion at the end of October. Sean, meanwhile, was unable to contest the opening round on Epynt, but has now opened his account in the best possible way.

DAVID MANN/ALUN COOK were 2nd overall in their Impreza WRC, treating the at-times technically difficult stages with the respect they deserved. Following on from their Top Three finish on Epynt, both David & Alun move up a place in their respective categories and, as past winners of the next round on the Isle of Man, will relish the opportunity to improve still further in early May.

Defending MSA Asphalt Rally Champions DAVID KYNASTON/ANDY RUSSELL brought their Audi A3 Quattro home in 3rd place, in spite of losing four minutes on the second stage of the rally with throttle cable problems. Apart from this aberration, the car behaved impeccably, allowing ‘DK’ to maintain his second place in the points while Andy still leads the Co-drivers’ section.

The ‘Star’ of the rally, certainly in MSA Asphalt Championship terms, was ROGER DONNAN who, with Kim Baker guiding him through the stages, brought his Ford Puma S1600 back in an excellent 4th place. This earned him the ‘John Horton Motorsport Management Star Performance’ salver and was more than enough for him to take a class win, ahead of the Fiat Punto 1600S of ROD BENNETT/HENRY RICHARDSON who, at one point, had to take to a roadside bank in an attempt to dislodge a rock that had become jammed under the sumpguard. Luckily, the planned excursion was successful and they were able to carry on unhindered.

Sandwiched between the two 1600cc cars was the sole survivor of the usual Class B11 battle – the Ford Escort MkII of PETE HUGHES/CHRIS EVANS. They, too, returned to the mainland with a class win on the event, as well as maximum Championship points. Not so lucky, though, were IAN COPPING/DAVE ROWLEY (Ford Fiesta RWD) or MEIRION EVANS/PAUL WAKELY (Ford Escort MkII). After a fraught run-up to the rally, Copping’s challenge only lasted for one complete stage before he was sidelined by mechanical woes while, having already creased one corner of his pristine Escort, Meirion Evans joined him on the list of retirements shortly afterwards.

After an early departure from the Tour of Epynt, CHRIS RICE brought his re-fettled Group N Impreza to the Circuit in the hope of putting his season back on track and was rewarded with a successful outcome, while young Scotsmen ROSS HUNTER/ EILDON HALL had a troubled Irish debut in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO4. Their challenge was blunted by several broken driveshafts which transformed the car firstly from four-wheel to front-wheel drive only and then, as a result of further damage to the front, rear-wheel drive. Ross must have spent much of the rally trying to remember how to drive the Lancer! However, more valuable experience – and points! – were the rewards for their efforts.

The rally had hardly started before the tales of woe began to filter through… MARK JASPER/DON WHYATT were the only representatives of the Legend Motorsport team in their MG Metro 6R4 and, having missed their booked ferry, arrived at Scrutineering by the skin of their teeth. However, worse was to come as the car’s gearbox cried ‘enough’ on the opening stage of the rally and, consequently, was soon being transported back towards Dun Laoghaire and home…

Both WASHINGTON JAMES/DAI ROBERTS (Darrian T90 GTR) and DAVID HARDIE/ JOHN McCULLOCH (Subaru Impreza) had failed to make the finish line on Epynt and, unfortunately, the roads of Ireland were not to provide any change in their fortunes. The Darrian’s gearbox gave up the ghost on SS3, while the Subaru only lasted one stage more. Their luck must surely change for the better soon!…

As previously mentioned, the next chance for all Richard Egger Insurance MSA Asphalt Rally Championship contenders to move their seasons forward will be on the Manx National Rally on 8/9th May – another tough, but very popular, event.

Video Clips

Posted: April 13, 2009 12:15 PM


Posted: April 13, 2009 11:32 AM

1 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC) 1h 55m 01s
2 Eamonn Boland/Mick Morrissey (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1h 55m 50s
3 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC) 1h 56m 06s
4 Tim McNulty/David Moynihan (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1h 57m 03s
5 Darren Gass/Diarmuid Falvey (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1h 58m 42s
6 Kevin Barrett/Barry Goodman (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 02m 43s
7 Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 2h 09m 57s
8 Rory Byrne/Jeremy Patterson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 2h 10m 08s
9 Daragh O’Riordan/Sean McCarthy (Renault Clio S1600) 2h 10m 52s
10 Paddy White/Graeme Stewart (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 12m 31s

Group N:
1 Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont
2 Rory Byrne/Jeremy Patterson
3 Willie Mavitty/Keefe Kilcoyne (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6) 2h 12m 54s

Class winners:
Peter Gallagher/Keith Murray (Peugeot 206)
Daragh O’Riordan/Sean McCarthy
Eugene Meegan/Donal Lennon (Honda Civic)

Leaders After:
SS1 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC)
SS2 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS3 Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS4-14 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC)

Stage Winners:
SS1 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC)
SS2 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS3 Tim McNulty/David Moynihan (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS4 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC)
SS5 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC)
SS6 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC)
SS7 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
SS8 Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS9 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
SS10 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
SS11 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
SS12 Eamonn Boland/Mick Morrissey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS13 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
SS14 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)

1 Melvyn Evans/Sean Mullally (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 03m 53s
2 David Mann/Alun Cook (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 06m 51s
3 David Kynaston/Andy Russell (Audi A3 Quattro) 2h 10m 00s

1 Kenny McKinstry/Noel Orr (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1h 38m 14s
2 Wesley Patterson/Martin McGarrity (Ford Escort Mk II) 1h 41m 41s
3 Dennis Biggerstaff/Damian McCann (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1h 42m 19s

1 Philip Kerlin/Noel Anderson (Mini Cooper S) 2h 03m 48s
2 William Todd/Robert Fyffe (Mini Cooper S) 2h 09m 05s

1 Keith McIvor/David Burns (Porsche 911) 1h 49m 15s
2 Derek Boyd/Roisin Boyd (Porsche 911) 1h 50m 31s
3 Dessie Nutt/Michael Nutt (Porsche 911) 1h 53m 34s

Full Results, Times & Analysis:

Hankook N.I. Rally Championship stars set for battle at the Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally!

Posted: April 10, 2009 9:57 AM

This weekend's Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally hosts round three of the Hankook MSA N.I. Stage Rally Championship, and a fantastic line up of competitors are ready to tackle this Easter's rally spectacular!

The event will be split into three categories, with the international section hosting a round of the Irish Tarmac Championship, while the National A section hosts a round of the MSA Asphalt Championship.

But for those following the Hankook backed Northern Ireland series, their eyes will be focused on the National B category. Almost 70 competitors have entered this section, which ensures that competition will be extremely tough.

The event starts on Saturday morning when competitors leave the Park Inn, Dundalk. Crews will drive to the start ramp in Banbridge town centre, before tackling closed road stages in County Down. A total of eight stages will be completed, with service at The Outlet, situated close to the A1 outside Banbridge, after every second stage.

On Sunday, service moves to Carnbane Industrial Estate in Newry, and crews will tackle two loops of three stages which are situated south west of the city. Once completed, the rally winners will spray the champagne at the finish ramp in Dundalk town centre at approximately 3.30pm.

So who will be in the hunt for this year's National B Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally victory?

The championship tables could make for some interesting reading come the end of the event, as current Hankook series leader, Derek McGarrity, has entered the International category. As a result, he will not score points towards the N.I. Championship.

Meanwhile, reigning champion Connor McCloskey is another name missing from the entry list. He has decided not to defend his title in 2009, despite lying second overall in the series after the opening two rounds.

So it will be Banbridge rally ace Kenny McKinstry who leads the National B field away from the start line. He claimed third overall at round one but currently lies sixth in the series after missing round two due to work commitments.

Stiff competition will come from Seamus Leonard, who holds third overall in the championship standings. Then there's former champion Denis Biggerstaff, who will be hoping the handling problems encountered at round two will be a thing of the past.

Mark Courtney and Emma McKinstry will also be vying for the top spot, while the Sunoco Fuels Group N category has received a healthy entry. After his fiery exit from round two, Raymond Johnston will start this Easter's event sixth on the road. He will have a tough job on his hands, with the likes of Neil McCance and John McGlaughlin aiming for victory.

The Superdrive two-wheel-drive category has also received a strong entry, with Wesley Patterson, Martin McGee, Adrian Hetherington, Seamus O'Connell and Manus Kelly among the leading entrants.

Philip Hunter returns to the fray in a bid for another Montgomery Motorsport historic category win, but Dessie Nutt and Derek Boyd will be among those trying to stop him in his tracks.

With headquarters at the Park Inn, Dundalk, the two-day event gets underway this Saturday (11 April). Rally programmes containing plenty of spectator information are available from a number of outlets across the country - more information can be found online at

Exciting Circuit of Ireland Rally in Prospect

Posted: April 10, 2009 9:50 AM

The Irish Tarmac Rally Championship races back into action with this weekend’s Larsen Circuit of Ireland. Despite the difficult economic times there is a star-studded entry of 124 cars competing in the annual Easter classic. At the front of the field there is an impressive array of World Rally Car and production category machinery. These four wheel-drive cars will be followed by the two-wheel drive Tarmac Trophy runners and the increasingly popular Historics.

With headquarters at Dundalk's Park Inn, the Circuit kicks off on Easter Saturday. A ceremonial start will take place in Banbridge on the Saturday morning before competitors tackle eight stages in Co.Down, interspersed by service at The Outlet, Banbridge. Service moves to Carnbane Industrial Estate in Newry on Easter Sunday, and crews will face a total of six stages in the County Armagh area, before the winner is crowned in Dundalk.

First car on the road is Gareth MacHale at the wheel of a Ford Focus WRC. The Dubliner was second on last year’s Circuit and was also runner up on this year’s Tarmac opener in Galway. Expect fireworks from the Dubliner as he attempts to land his first ever tarmac win. Eamon Boland is next up in his Subaru Impreza WRC. The Wexford man had his first Circuit win last year and he went on to land the Tarmac crown. He drove like a champion in Galway, leading the event from the start until forced out with engine maladies.

Derek McGarrity will start at three in another Impreza. The Glengormley driver is a three times winner of the Circuit and twice Tarmac champion. Another Subaru driver is Tim Mc Nulty. He has a few internationals to his name and he was unfortunate to retire in Galway with mechanical failure on the first stage. Leader of the tarmac championship is Eugene Donnelly, using the Galway winning Skoda Fabia WRC. While the little Czech machine is not the quickest of this quintet, the Maghera man will pounce on any mistakes by the front runners.

Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland Preview - Rounds Three and Four

Posted: April 6, 2009 3:55 PM

Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland organisers are delighted to report that they have more than doubled their entry numbers for rounds three and four of the official Irish one-make series for Group N Lancers, the Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally seeing nine crews tackle the two-day Easter Classic.

“With just four teams contesting rounds one and two at last month’s West Cork Rally, we are delighted to see such an increase in numbers for next weekend”, said Championship Manager Simon Slade. “With the introduction of pay-as-you-go registration and a few other adjustments which make it easier to enter, we have been able to attract more competitors and we hope to see even more crews join up as the season progresses.”

A significant addition to this weekend’s Evo Challenge field is reigning Champion Brendan Cumiskey, with co-driver Conor Foley. Living local to the event, the Dundalk driver will use the same Evo IX he drove to victory last year, although he will have most of his on-event expenses covered as part of his prize for winning the 2008 Mitsubishi series.

Organisers are delighted to welcome former UK Evo Challenge front-runner Neil McCance, who joins the Irish series for the first time at this event. After five years with the British Mitsubishi championship, he and co-driver Sean Ferris are expected to feature well.

Another crew to span both sides of the Irish Sea are Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont. After leading the Mitsubishi series in Ireland for much of 2008, the Ballymena pair are the only competitors to be contesting both the UK and Irish Evo Challenges this season, this event marking their return to series in Ireland.

A warm welcome is also extended to three new teams who join the Evolution Challenge this weekend: William Mavitty/Keefe Kilcoyne, Geoff McMahon/Robert Graham and Alan Burrows/Gavin Burrows.

Currently second in the series standings after a consistent performance in rounds one and two, Liam Egan will be again making the trip from his current place of residence in New York back to his home-land. He will be joined for the first time by co-driver Mary O’Kane.

Third-placed Stanley Ballantine/Donnacha O’Callaghan are aiming to continue at the pace they found in West Cork. This time they hope their car will make it to the finish and they will not see a repeat of the transmission problems which caused an 11th hour retirement towards the end of round two.

Thomas White and Robert Murphy also ended the first two rounds prematurely with transmission problems and are therefore looking to get points on the board this weekend.

The Larsen Circuit Ireland Rally starts and finishes in Dundalk. Its eight special stages on Saturday represent round three of the Mitsubishi series, whilst the remaining six on Sunday represent round four. And, with current series leaders Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors choosing not to contest this event, the door is left wide open for another crew to come to the fore and ignite the battle for the 2009 title.

The Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland offers competitors an extensive prize fund, with the Champion wining a supported drive in a James Foley Rallysport prepared Group N Lancer Evolution X for selected rounds of the 2010 Irish Tarmac Championship. Other prizes up for grabs include vouchers, tyres, fuel and awards on each event and at the end of the season.

The series is supported by: Pirelli tyres, Sunoco fuel, James Foley Rallysport, Carbone Lorraine, Murray Motorsport, Speedline Corse wheels, PIAA lights, Pacenotes, Sparco racewear and Mitsubishi Motors Ireland.

Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland
Rounds Three and Four - Entries
10 Brendan Cumiskey (Dundalk)/Conor Foley (Ballinode)
11 Alan Carmichael (Ballymena)/Ivor Lamont (Ballymena)
15 William Mavitty (Eniskillen)/Keefe Kilcoyne (Westport)
16 Stanley Ballentine (Strabane)/Donnacha O’Callaghan (Mallow)
18 Geoff McMahon (Armagh)/Robert Graham (Armagh)
27 Liam Egan (New York)/Mary O’Kane
68 Neil McCance (Comber)/Sean Ferris (Omagh)
70 Alan Burrows (Ballynahinch)/Gavin Burrows (Ballynahinch)
95 Thomas White (Foulksmills)/Robert Murphy (New Ross)

FST take to the Circuit!

Posted: April 5, 2009 7:38 PM

The second round of the Fiesta SportTrophy (FST) Ireland takes place next weekend as crew’s head for the Larsen Circuit of Ireland International Rally. Ten fiesta crews will take part in the event which is based in a new location for 2009, Dundalk. The event, which is organised by The Ulster Automobile Club, will see crews take part in two gruelling days of asphalt action covering a total of over 120 competitive stage miles.

Two competitors are taking full use of the “dual” format of the FST Ireland series and have entered the International event so that they are eligible to score points not only in the FST but also in the Irish Tarmac Championship. The first of these is Craig Breen (18) from Waterford and co-driver Gareth Roberts. Breen has had an incredibly busy start to the year and finished second overall on round one of the series as well as second overall in the FST on the second round of the UK series. Breen is competing in Rally Portugal as this release goes to press and will be hoping his large amount of seat time will help him to get his first elusive FST win. Also competing in the International event is FST regular Kyle Orr (19) from Dromore and navigator Rob Fagg. Orr finished a respectable fifth FST on the Bulldog Rally and went on to complete the |nternational event after the FST event was declared final. Orr is looking to mount a full attack on all the remaining rounds of the IE and UK series, he will be hoping the Circuit of Ireland will give him a good result to start his Irish campaign.

Away from the International event there are a number of other competitors competing within the National section of the event and the FST event.

Mark Donnelly (17) from Omagh, and navigator Paddy Robinson are competing in both the IE and UK FST series. With a third overall on the second round of the UK series and an impressive eighth overall on the National Rally in Galway the Irish youngster is showing more speed with every outing. The Circuit could be a great opportunity for him to take his first victory.

Third-place man in Galway, Paul Quinn (20) from Dungannon, has just finished repairing his car after a big accident on a non-championship local event. The third overall driver in last years FST series will be eager to find his rhythm again and get back to winning ways. Quinn will look to build on his third overall in Galway.

FST regular Liam Regan (20) from Belfast and co-driver Steven Park have only switched to tarmac this year and are still building experience on the new surface. After a steady sixth overall on the first round Regan will look to build on this result and gain some more points to put towards his FST IE campaign.

Stephen Wright (18) from Co. Monaghan and co-driver Paul McGee suffered a retirement on round one and will want to complete the event next weekend and score some vitally needed points. Wright showed good pace at the end of 2008 and hopes he will be able to recreate this in Dundalk.

Desi Henry (19) from Port Glenone and John Rowan only joined the FST series late last year and are still learning the car. With two FST event finishes out of two started Henry has a 100% finishing record and will aim to continue this on the Circuit as well as scoring good FST points.

Garrett Loughran from Ballygawley and navigator brother Philip Loughran will hope to put their first round woes behind them. With an Insurance discrepancy it meant that Garrett had to use a last minute step in navigator to allow him to compete, now back in their familiar partnership the duo will hope they can make an impressive mark on the FST series.

Shane Buckley (24) from Ballyhaunis and Thomas Maguire suffered an off in Galway dropping them from third to seventh overall. Buckley will want to get back the third place he was destined for on the previous round and prove that he is capable of taking an event win.

The final FST competitor will be newcomer to the Irish series Robbie Barrable (21) from Dublin. Barrable aims to complete the remainder of both the IE and UK series. As an ex-Formula Ford champion he will hope that his speed and experience on tarmac will leave him in a good position to challenge the regular drivers in the series.

Crews will compete for prize-money on each event of the series with the top eight sharing a total of €2,295 per round.

Runner up in Galway, Craig Breen said:
“Me and Gareth [Roberts] are looking forward to getting back onto the tarmac, and pushing for our first Fiesta SportTrophy win. Obviously with the absence of Alistair [Fisher] it will be very different to Galway, but there are a number of other guys that are going to be pushing hard to try and get the top spot. It will be a good challenge for me for sure”

Full Entry Lists Available

Posted: April 3, 2009 3:42 PM


Posted: April 1, 2009 6:36 PM

For the first time, the Larsen Circuit of Ireland National Rally is included in the Richard Egger Insurance MSA Asphalt Rally Championship calendar and, consequently, many of the leading contenders will be heading for the event’s base in Dundalk over Easter weekend. 140 miles of special stages in the South Down and South Armagh area are included in the route, with central service areas in Banbridge (Day 1) and Newry (Day 2).

Championship leader after the opening round MELVYN EVANS is reunited with co-driver SEAN MULLALLY and their Subaru Impreza S11 will, doubtless, be amongst the front-runners. Defending Asphalt Rally Champions, DAVID KYNASTON/ANDY RUSSELL will be journeying up from Devon with their Audi A3 Quattro, while former MSA Gravel Rally Champions DAVID MANN/ALUN COOK (Subaru Impreza WRC) are contesting their second full season of asphalt events and the knowledge gained last year will put them in good stead this time.

The only MG Metro 6R4 in the entry list is that of Stafford-based MARK JASPER and co-driver DON WHYATT who lives in County Louth. The car is well-suited to the Irish lanes, as proved in the past by multiple MSA Asphalt Champion John Price who showed many of the more-modern World Rally Cars a clean pair of heels on both the Ulster & Sligo Rallies in recent years.

Of the mainland crews, DAVID HARDIE/JOHN McCULLOCH have one of the shortest journeys to the start as they transport their Subaru Impreza from Dumfries to the ferry at Stranraer and across into Ireland, although ROGER DONNAN (Ford Puma) actually lives in the town!

The Group N Impreza of CHRIS RICE has been fully restored to pristine condition after an ‘off’ on the Tour of Epynt left the front of the car looking rather sorry for itself! Chris will be looking to the Circuit for the opportunity to get his 2009 campaign back on track.

The rally will be a whole new experience for the winners of the ‘John Horton Motorsport Management Star Performance’ salver on Epynt, 20-year old ROSS HUNTER and co-driver EILDON HALL. Moving up from a Peugeot 205 to a Mitsubishi Lancer this year, the pair are contesting their first season of Asphalt Championship events and have already shown great promise.

As is always the case, Championship Class B11 – non-homologated up to 2-litre – is its usual hot-bed of competition. Fighting it out over the roads in Northern Ireland will be WASHINGTON JAMES (Darrian T90 GTR), fellow Newcastle Emlyn resident MEIRION EVANS (Ford Escort Mark II), PETE HUGHES (Ford Escort) and IAN COPPING (Ford Fiesta RWD). The Darrian was denied a finish on Epynt after rear suspension damage put an end to its participation, but the other three have already opened their accounts in this year’s series. It goes without saying that there will be plenty going on in that class!…

ROD BENNETT took a class win on Epynt in his Fiat Punto S1600 and, now with HENRY RICHARDSON on the notes, seeks to do likewise in Ireland. They, too, are contesting the Asphalt Championship for the first time, having made a name for themselves on gravel events.

The Circuit of Ireland Rally has a reputation as a tough challenge and those crews making the finish back in Dundalk on Easter Sunday afternoon will need no reminder of just what they have achieved!…

Impressive entry for Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally!

Posted: March 30, 2009 6:39 PM

The leading entries for this Easter's Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally, which takes place on 11/12 April, have been revealed. The Ulster Automobile Club event, which is based at Dundalk's Park Inn, has received an impressive 124 entries, with many of the country's leading drivers intending to bid for the prestigious Circuit of Ireland Rally title.

The International category, which hosts round two of the TROA Irish Tarmac Championship, features an impressive array of World Rally Car and production category machinery. The rally cars belonging to top 10 seeds alone are worth a combined value of millions of pounds, and these competitors will be driving mind bogglingly fast through the closed roads in counties Down and Armagh!

Gareth MacHale and Brian Murphy will start first on the road in their Ford Focus WRC. They head a star-studded entry list, which includes last year's winner, Eamonn Boland (Subaru), who will have Michael Joe Morrissey calling the notes on this occasion.

Derek McGarrity (Subaru), a three times winner of the event, will start at number three with James McKee calling the notes. Tim McNulty and Anthony Nestor also return in their Subaru Impreza WRC, while Eugene Donnelly and Paddy Toner complete the top five seeds.

Meanwhile, a host of competitors from Great Britain have entered the 'National A' event, which is a counting round of the Richard Egger Insurance MSA Asphalt Rally Championship.

Round one winner, Melvyn Evans (Subaru), is anxious to succeed on Irish soil as he continues his championship campaign. But he will face some stiff opposition, as David Mann (Subaru), David Kynaston (Audi), Washington James (Darrian) and Mark Jasper (MG) will all be aiming for the top spot.

And in the 'National B' category, which hosts round three of the Hankook MSA N.I. Stage Rally Championship, Banbridge rally ace Kenny McKinstry tops the entry in his Subaru Impreza WRC. Navigated by Bangor's Noel Orr, the crew will start ahead of Seamus Leonard and John McCafferty (Subaru), with Denis Biggerstaff and Damian McCann (Subaru) at number three.

"It's great to see the event in this area," McKinstry commented from his Banbridge home. "There are some brilliant stages around here and it's fantastic that The Outlet is being used as a service area."

With headquarters at Dundalk's Park Inn, the event takes kicks off on Saturday 11 April. A ceremonial start will take place in Banbridge on the Saturday morning at approximately 7.55am, before competitors tackle eight stages, interspersed by service at The Outlet.

Service moves to Carnbane Industrial Estate in Newry on Sunday 12 April, and crews will face a total of six stages in the County Armagh area, before the winner is crowned in Dundalk. Event programmes, which include a schedule and stage maps, are available to order from the event's official website.

Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally top 10 (International)
1 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Focus WRC)
2 Eamonn Boland/Michael Joe Morrissey (Subaru Impreza WRC)
3 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
4 Tim McNulty/Andrew Cullen (Subaru Impreza WRC)
5 Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner (Skoda Fabia WRC)
6 Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Subaru Impreza WRC)
7 Aaron MacHale/Killian Duffy (Ford Focus WRC)
8 Kevin Barrett/Barry Goodman (Subaru Impreza WRC)
9 Paddy White/Graeme Stewart (Ford Focus WRC)
10 Brendan Cumiskey/Conor Foley (Mit. Lancer Evo X)

Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally top 6 (National A)
40 Melvyn Evans/Sean Mullally (Subaru Impreza WRC)
41 David Mann/Alun Cook (Subaru Impreza WRC)
42 David Kynaston/Andy Russell (Audi A3 Quattro)
43 Washington James/Dai Roberts (Darrian T90 GTR)
44 Mark Jasper/Don Whyatt (Metro 6R4)
45 David Hardie/John McCulloch (Subaru Impreza)

Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally top 6 (National B)
60 Kenny McKinstry/Noel Orr (Subaru Impreza WRC)
61 Seamus Leonard/John McCafferty (Subaru Impreza WRC)
62 Denis Biggerstaff/Damian McCann (Subaru Impreza WRC)
64 Mark Courtney/Mick Courtney (Toyota Celica GT-Four)
65 Emma McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)
67 Raymond Johnston/TBA (Mit. Lancer Evo 9)

More Details:

Excitement continues to build ahead of Easter's Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally!

Posted: March 23, 2009 10:36 AM

Entries for this year's Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally, which takes place over 11/12 April, have been received from all corners of the UK and Ireland! Competitors from as far away as England and Wales are intending to bring a fresh challenge to the locals this Easter, but a host of local talent will bid to ensure that the 'Circuit' crown remains on home shores.

A new scheme has also been introduced for competitors, which allows them to secure an entry in the event by paying a deposit. In a bid to become more competitor friendly, the Ulster Automobile Club is happy for competing crews to split the cost of the entry fee over a period of time.

"Competitors can send the club a £200 non-refundable deposit which will secure their entry in the event," Kieran O'Neill said. "That allows them to split the cost over two wage packets. All we ask is that the full balance is paid before the entry closing date."

Excitement is building ahead of the 2009 rally, and new sponsors Larsen Building Products are excited at the prospect of being associated with such a high profile event.

"As sponsors we have had some insight in to the amount of work and dedication that the UAC have put in to planning the Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally," said Larsen Marketing Manager, Duncan Barnes.

"We have been very impressed with the effort and professional approach that the organising committee has shown. We are now seeing that planning going in to action with the help of a small army of other committed amateur enthusiasts and are confident this will ensure that the 2009 'Circuit' will be a great success."

Indeed the event is not all about the competitors, and a huge team of volunteers will be on hand throughout the Easter weekend to ensure the smooth running of the rally. The UAC recognises the hard work and dedication of those volunteers, and will again be running a marshals' scheme in 2009.

Competitors can purchase 'Make a Marshal Happy' stickers, and the funds raised will go towards marshals' packs, which will include a voucher for lunch at either Dundalk's Park Inn or the Slieve Croob Restaurant.

"We're delighted to be involved with such a great event," Slieve Croob manager Dominic King said. "It's great that it's back in the area and I'd like to wish organisers, marshals and competitors the best of luck for what I'm sure will be a brilliant weekend."

Competitors who purchase 'Make a Marshal Happy' stickers will have a chance to win a free entry to the 2010 event. John Warnock and David Armstrong supported the scheme in 2008, and were lucky winners of a free entry to this year's Larsen Circuit of Ireland.

The 2009 Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally takes place over 11 and 12 April. Based at Dundalk's Park Inn, cars will leave the start ramp in Banbridge on the Saturday, before tackling stages in counties Down and Armagh. More information can be found online at

List of Entries Received to Date

Posted: March 20, 2009 2:49 PM

Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally gains support of local councils!

Posted: March 10, 2009 5:33 PM

Ulster Automobile Club's (UAC) final preparations for this Easter's Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally are well underway. The event, which takes place over 11/12 April, is based at the Park Inn, Dundalk. And with stages located north of the border, the UAC is pleased to announce that the prestigious event has secured the backing of both Banbridge District Council and Down District Council!

"It gives me great pleasure to welcome the Circuit of Ireland Rally to the Banbridge District again this year," said Banbridge District Council Chairman, Norah Beare. "We are delighted to be hosting the start of the International and National rallies under the historic Downshire Bridge, or 'The Cut' as it is more commonly known, on Saturday 11 April."

Meanwhile, Down District Council Chairman, Colin McGrath, was delighted to learn that two stages of the event are to be held within the confines of Down District:

"As Chairman of Down District Council, I am delighted to welcome this prestigious event to our area. Events such as the Circuit of Ireland are vital to increase the economic spin off to our area and we are delighted that two of the stages in this year's 'Circuit' are based within Down District. I hope that all the visitors enjoy their stay and have an opportunity to visit some of Northern Ireland's top attractions within Down District."

Next month's rally features many 'firsts' for the world renowned event. As a result of the uncertain economic times, organisers have switched to a two-day format in a bid to reduce costs. The event's new headquarters are located at Dundalk's Park Inn, the ceremonial start takes place in Banbridge for the first time, and Larsen Building Products is the new title sponsor.

"We are delighted to be involved in this year's Circuit of Ireland Rally and are very happy to support such a prestigious event," said Park Inn general manager, Caroline McCoy. "The rally will have a very positive economic impact on Dundalk and the surrounding area, generating a large amount of business during the event, which is especially important during the current economic climate."

The 2009 Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally takes place over 11 and 12 April. Based at Dundalk's Park Inn, cars will leave the start ramp in Banbridge on the Saturday, before tackling stages in counties Down and Armagh. More information can be found online at

Regulations Available

Posted: February 26, 2009 7:05 PM

Details announced for the 2009 Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally

Posted: February 12, 2009 12:59 PM

Details of this year's Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally, which will take place over 11/12 April, were announced on Thursday 12 February at the Park Inn, Dundalk. Larsen Building Products was revealed as the new title sponsor at a bustling press gathering, and Ulster Automobile Club (UAC) Ltd announced a fresh new look to this year's event.

"On behalf of the Ulster Automobile Club, it's with great pleasure that I welcome Larsen Building Products on board as the new title sponsor of the Circuit of Ireland Rally," Clerk of the Course and UAC Chairman Nigel Hughes said. "The event will be known as the Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally."

"This year's event will be a two-day rally, covering a total of 130 plus stage miles and 250 road miles," Mr Hughes continued. "This helps to provide excellent value for money for all competitors, with an entry fee of £700 equating to just £5.40 per stage mile."

Larsen's marketing manager, Duncan Barnes, said: "Larsen is delighted to be the main sponsor of this year's Circuit of Ireland Rally. Being part of this prestigious and historic motoring event for the first time is an exciting prospect for the company."

The rally headquarters has moved to the Park Inn, Dundalk, while stages will be located in the South Down and South Armagh areas. The ceremonial start will take place for the first time in Banbridge town centre, and service during day one will be located at The Outlet shopping complex (also in Banbridge), while day two service will move to Newry.

"Rallying can be a massive attraction that helps boost the economy in the area," Mr Hughes said, "and it's fantastic that the councils recognise this. Over the years, we've received support from many councils, including Banbridge, Newry, Down, Louth, as well as Bord Failte. We're indebted to all of them."

The Circuit of Ireland Rally is the most famous event in Irish rallying, and once held the accolade of being the longest, most challenging tarmac rally in the world. But modern day rallying requires shorter, more compact events. Over the years, the UAC has reacted to these requirements, gradually reducing the road and stage mileage.

Now, during these increasingly difficult economic times, the Circuit of Ireland has taken a further step in its evolution. The introduction of a two-day format will help reduce the costs for all involved.

The event is a counting round of various championships, including the TROA Irish Tarmac Championship, Hankook MSA N.I. Stage Rally Championship and Richard Egger Insurance MSA Asphalt Championship. It also hosts a round of the Citroen C2 R2 Irish Cup, Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland and the Ford Fiesta SportingTrophy Ireland.

Furthermore, the new two-day format ensures that all competitors will tackle the same stages and mileage, regardless of which championship they are contesting.

Provisional Details

Posted: January 1, 2009 12:01 AM

Based in Dundalk.
HQ: Park Inn.Dundalk.
Fri: Scrutiny in Dundalk.
Sat: Service in Banbridge.
Sat: Stages in Co Down area.
Sat night Parc Ferme: Park Inn
Sun: Service in Newry.
Sun: Stages in Co Down area.
Prizegiving in the Park Inn Sun Night.

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