Autocrosses 2009


Report on Oct 11th event
Justin Ryan clinches the Young Driver Championship title for 2009 in his honda civic.
Eamonn Mimnagh wins the final Mayo and District autocross for 2009.



He came, he saw he conquered.
Well, another year draws to a close for the Mayo Loose Surface Autocross and what a year it has been, we have seen local man James McGreal return to winning form and a massive track expansion that has made the Mayo autocross venue one of the best in the country. With all credit due to Brendan Walsh and his Team.
On Sunday it was new man Eamonn Minmagh that would take the victory. He came, he saw and he conquered the 2.5km Mayo Track driving his Mitsubishi Evo 5 finishing the event just 0.4 of a second ahead of local man James McGreal. James in his ageing Subaru put in a sterling effort to finish such a small distance behind just showing how tight the racing at Harringtons Quarry can be.

Brian Dunlop was the first 2wd home. The Clogher man piloted his Mark 2 Escort to a fine third overall just 4 seconds behind James McGreal. James Lannon brought his immaculate Mitsubishi Evo 9 home in 4th just 0.5 of a second behind Brian. The red Evo popping and banging its way sideways around the Mayo circuit. Williamstown Walter Burke finished in 5th just 2 seconds behind James Lannon. Mervyn Galbraith put in an incredible drive to finish 6th in his class 2 Nova The Omagh man drove the door handles off the car all day to finish a mere 5 seconds behind Walter Burke. Patrick Barrett brought his beautiful Mark 2 escort home in 7th 2 seconds behind. Gerry Ronan set the early pace leading after the first stage his flamboyant style was evident as usual as he flung his Evo through the corners but unfortunately the car cried enough on the second run. His first time was enough to net him 8th a small consolation for what promised to be a very good day for the Bekan driver.
Now that the 2009 Mayo Autocross has come to an end it leaves us all begging for more. It has been an incredible year in Harringtons Quarry Swinford. The Mayo and District Motorsport Club would like to sincerely thank the Harringtons for the use of their quarry, the marshals who turned out in all weathers for the five events and especially the team who ran the events during the year.
Until next year!

Sean Hassett


Report from August 9th

McGreals Hat trick

James McGreals run of good luck continues as he annihilates the competition at round three of the Mayo & District Motorsport Club’s loose surface Autocross at Harrington’s Quarry near Swinford.
Since his first win James seems unstoppable as he now makes it three wins in a row. McGreal put in an incredible time on the second run of the day to be over 3 seconds ahead of Shane McGirr in his Starlet. (Remember that 4wd cars incur a 2.5% Penalty on their times.)
Shane managed to fend off the challenges of Mark Kennedy in his impressive Kartcross Buggy to finish second. Williamstown’s Walter Burke took 4th just .8 of a second ahead of Conor Kelly from Tyrone in his Nissan Sunny. Brian Dunlop entertained his way to 6 in his ever-sideways Escort Mark 2.

In 7th position was Killian Duffy, Killian swapped his usual passenger seat for the drivers seat and proved his worth in the Derek Jobb Evo 6. James Lannon from Boyle brought his Mitsubishi Evo 9 home in 8th while Derek Jobb and Conor Mckenna rounded out the top 10.
With one round left in October 2009, James McGreal is the man to beat following his hatrick of victories. Hopes will be high in the Mayo club that for the first time since its inception, a Mayo driver can claim the prestigious Frank Harrington Award for overall Autocross series champion.

Written by Sean Hassett


Report from July 5th

McGreal’s Got That Winning Feeling

They say in sport getting the first win is the hardest, that once that elusive inital victory has been achieved, subsequent success is easier to come by.
James McGreal might not agree about the easy bit, but what is without argument is the fact that having waited nearly fifteen years to achieve success on his local autocross, the Foxford man has now made it two wins from two in quick succession.
Just three weeks ago, McGreal dominated Mayo & District Motorsport Club’s loose surface Autocross at Harrington’s Quarry near Swinford, setting fastest time on each of the three runs. On Sunday however, on the third Autocross event of the season he had to work much harder, clinching victory in his Subaru Impreza only on the final run of the day.

Making him work hard for that win was another Mayo competitor, Gerry Ronan from Bekan. The Mitsubishi driver was flying on the early runs, holding a lead of over six seconds ahead of the field going into the final timed test, a lifetime in motorsport terms. McGreal meantime was struggling, failing to set a time on the first run when his car lapsed onto three cylinders, and not happy with his performance on the second test which saw him down in fifth position, over eight seconds off the pace.
On the final run Gerry Ronan took another 1.5 seconds off his previous best time but it was not to be enough for the Bekan driver. Feeling that his chance of victory had gone, McGreal decided to adopt a smooth and tidy approach, eschewing his normal flamboyant style. It proved remarkably effective, the red Impreza scorching to victory by over two seconds.
Fermanagh visitor Gerard Farmer took third in another Mitsubishi, another competitor to put in a strong last run, finishing just 0.13 of a second behind Gerry Ronan, while in fourth was Adrian Donnelly, the Escort driver taking the award for class 4 into the bargain. In fifth was Wexford’s Mark Kennedy in a Kartcross Buggy, the first time for one of these purpose-built specials to compete on a Mayo Autocross.
Conor Kelly from Tyrone took sixth and the class 3 award, while a trio of local competitors were next up. Sean McHugh from Bekan sliped down the order after holding second in his Impreza following the first run, while Williamstown’s Walter Burke took over that position after run two but the Escort driver was unable to improve sufficiently on the final test. In 9th position, Castlebar’s Brendan Corcoran put in one of the drives of the day, not only bringing his Honda Civic into the top ten, but winning the hard fought class 2 in the process. The top ten was rounded out by the Mitsubishi of James Lannon from Boyle, while Noel Lappin scooped the class one award despite only recording one time for the day, the Cavan man beating Foxford’s Alan Moran for the prize.
Five local competitors in the top ten despite competition from all corners of the country, and many more local drivers competing throughout the field, the popularity of Mayo & District Motorsport Club’s Loose Surface Autocross continues to grow. With two further rounds to run in 2009, and James McGreal the man to beat following his brace of victories, hopes will be high that for the first time since its inception, a Mayo driver can claim the prestigious Frank Harrington Award for overall Autocross series champion.

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Many thanks to Sean Hassett for his photos. Check out his website at for more photos from the event.

Report from June 14th
McGreal The Maestro Of Mayo Autocross

James McGreal did on Sunday what he has been threatening to do for a while – take overall victory on a round of Mayo & District Motorsport Club’s Loose Surface Autocross.
It marks a significant milestone for the popular Foxford man, a long time competitor and Mayo Motorsport Club stalwart, who counts the 2000 Border Rally Championship title among his many achievements. Only last year he had feared that his days of competing might have been over, after sustaining a back injury following an accident on the Galway International Rally.

Thankfully a full recovery was made, and on Sunday’s event, driving his self-prepared Subaru Impreza, McGreal was on inspired form, setting fastest times on each of the three runs to finish nearly four seconds ahead of his nearest challengers.
The second round of Mayo & District’s 2009 Loose Surface Autocross series was held as usual at Harrington’s Quarry near Swinford, and attracted a strong entry of nearly fifty competitors, including a large contingent from Northern Ireland. The Mayo venue is highly regarded as one of the best autocross tracks in the country, and once again Clerk of the Course Brendan Walsh and his team had laid on a challenging circuit to test drivers to the limit.
With McGreal storming to a highly popular local win, the runner-up spot was taken by Fermanagh visitor Gary McBrien, winner of last month’s opening round at the same venue. Keeping it in the family, Gary’s brother Sean finished in third position, the siblings sharing the same Mitsubishi Evo 6.
Tyrone’s Brian Dunlop was fourth overall and the highest placed runner in class 4 in his Ford Escort. He finished just ahead of the similar car of Walter Burke, the local club member from Williamstown a former winner of the event. Another multiple former winner was sixth overall, Conor Kelly from Tyrone having to be satisfied this time with class 3 honours in his Nissan Sunny. And demonstrating the popularity of the event, two further visitors made it a worthwhile trip from the east of the country, Maynooth’s Ciaran McCullagh winning class 2 and taking 7th overall ahead of Oldcastle’s Lauris Zdanovcis by a mere 0.6 of a second. Benny Quinn and Mervyn Galbraith rounded out the top ten finishers, while Longford’s Tommy Donlon, a regular visitor to the Mayo track, took another victory in class 1.
Other local competitors to score strong results included Alan Moran from Foxford who finished 3rd in class 1, while in class 3 Peter Conroy from Kilmaine, Headford’s Allen Higgins and Eoin McGreal from Castlebar fought it out to finish second, third and fourth in the category.
But this was undoubtedly James McGreal’s day. Receiving his trophy at the prizegiving he thanked Frank Harrington and his staff for the continued use of their excellent venue. Reminiscing that it was about fifteen years since his last overall success at a Mayo Autocross event, he promised to be back to defend his title on the next round in July. If he can replicate Sunday’s form, few would give odds on another fifteen year wait.

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Report from May 17th

Mayo & District Motorsport Club’s first loose surface autocross event of the year got off to a strong start on Sunday, with some close racing and plenty of action throughout the field.

Held at Harrington’s Quarry at The Valley near Swinford, 30 competitors gathered to do battle over the extended track, widely acknowledged as one of the best loose surface autocross locations in the country.

Overall victory went to Gary McBrien from Enniskillen driving a Mitsubishi Evo 6, one of a number of competitors from Northern Ireland to take part in the event. Indeed on a day when the Fermanagh football team successfully launched its All-Ireland championship bid, the county’s motorsport fraternity were not to be out-done, claiming the top three spots courtesy of the similar Mitsubishis of Gerald Farmer and Sean McBrien.

Fourth overall was the top local driver James McGreal, the Foxford man making a return to competition following his accident on the 2008 Galway International Rally. Driving a Subaru Impreza he was instantly on the pace, holding second overall after the second run. Unfortunately for supporters hoping for a local victory that was as good as it got. On the final test the Impreza lost power for a few vital seconds after a jump, and with others improving, James had to settle for fourth.

Tyrone visitors Conor Kelly and B. Dunlop led the two wheel drive contenders home in fifth and sixth, in the process taking category wins in classes 2 and 4 respectively. Two more local drivers were close behind, Bekan’s Sean McHugh taking seventh in his Impreza followed by Claremorris driver Gerry Ronan in eighth driving a Mitsubishi.

Former Mayo & District Motorsport Club Young Driver Champion Allen Higgins from Headford was another competitor setting impressive times in a Toyota Corolla, finishing 9th overall and 1st in class 3.
Rounding out the top ten finishers was Longford’s Tommy Donlon who also took the prize for fastest runner in class 1 in his Peugeot 206.

Mayo & District Motorsport Club will be holding a number of further autocross rounds during the year with the next event scheduled for 14th June.

Action photos courtesy of Sean Hassett

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Locals Mayo Stage Rally 2009

Here are some of the local competitors who took part in this year’s Mayo Stages Rally.

Sligo Mini Stages 20019

Mayo rally competitors invade Sligo

The Mayo and District Motorsport club were well represented at Sundays Connacht Mini-Stages Rally based out of Grange in Sligo, with over 10 crews starting the extremely tough event.

Mervyn & Derek Deane in their Ford Escort Mark II were the first Mayo crew home in a fine 8th place overall. They steadily gained places throughout the day climbing from 14th after stage 1 up to their eventual 8th place finish. The dynamic duo of Ciaran Kennedy & Paul McGuinnis brought there class 2 civic home in a excellent first in class and a great 21st overall. The pair were finding it very slippery but were thoroughly enjoying the day. They lost one of the wing mirrors on stage one and they said “if found please return!” Foxford’s Ambrose Gaughan was the next Mayo competitor home in his Toyota Corolla Twin Cam. Ambrose finished 26th overall an incredible result considering he suffered complete brake failure half way through stage 1. Ambrose and co-Driver Derek Molloy managed to bleed the brakes and continued. The went onto prove there pace by catching two cars on stage 2, climbing from a first stage 57th to 26th at the finish, They also brought home some crystal by finishing 3rd in class 9.

Next highest Mayo finishers were Marcus Molloy and David Walsh. They finished in 35th place overall in their Honda Civic. At service Marcus had a big smile on his face and was loving the conditions.

Class 1 competitor Kenneth McHale swapped his drivers seat for a navigators, It proved to be an easy transition for the Knockmore man who was sitting beside Eamon McCafferty in his Ford Puma, ably guided through the tricky conditions Eamon brought the Puma home in 54th overall and First in class.
Only a scant 5 seconds behind was James Culliney, the Bekan man was navigating for Niall Morley they brought their Ford Escort home with a respectable 5th in class and in 55th overall just behind Kenneth McHale & Eamon McCafferty.

The Castlebar duo of Eoin McGreal and Jonathan Rice reported to have a good run the pair were having a laugh at service finding the conditions very slippery but enjoying it nonetheless. They eventually finished in a fine 61st overall and 6th in class 10 in their Chevette. The Honda Civic of Tom Jordon and Peter O’Toole were the next Mayo crew home in 75th overall.

Otto Gropler & Paul McGlinchey had a torrid day it all started badly with a spin on the very first corner, the pair were finding the conditions very challenging. As they came into service the crew were feeling better after a good run over the second stage only hampered by catching a car on the stage which subsequently crashed in front of them. It all wasn’t all bad as the pair manage to resurrect a fine 3rd place in class 5.

Unfortunately it was not all good news for the Mayo competitors as some of them fell by the wayside. One of them was Colin & Michael Loughney in there class 12 Ford Escort Mark II. The crew found the conditions very tricky finding themselves going up two escape roads on the first two stages. The red Escort was lying in a great 16th place overall after stage 1 but unfortunately after stage 3 their fine drive came to an end when the oil filter came off. Another crew to retire due to mechanical problems was Padraic Roche & Chrystal Culkeen when the gearbox cried enough after stage 1.
As the year draws to a close the Mayo and District Motorsport club would like to congratulate all of their competitors who have done excellently throughout the year.


Sligo Stages Rally 2009


Mayo Competitors Bring Home Trophies On Sligo Rally

Cathal Doyle

Sligo was the destination for a mini-Mayo invasion at the week-end as no fewer than sixteen local rally crews descended on the county for the Sligo Stages Rally, round 6 of the Dunlop National Rally Championship, and round 5 of the HASS Border Rally Championship.
It proved to be a successful cross-border excursion, with many of the drivers and co-drivers recording top three finishes in their respective classes to bring home trophies after a well-enjoyed day’s motorsport.
Among those making their marks were the Ballinrobe crew of brothers Ciaran and David Walsh who claimed 2nd in class 2 and 50th overall, Ciaran in the process cementing his category advantage in the Border series with one round left to run. Also claiming a 2nd in class were Castlebar’s Keith McFadden and his Kilkelly co-driver Brian Harrington who steered their class 7 Renault Clio to 64th overall.
Knockmore / Ballina pairing Kenneth McHale and Derek McCarthy were making one of their first appearances of the year, but the Toyota Yaris crew were back on the pace immediately, taking victory in class 1 and 73rd overall.

The honour of finishing highest placed Mayo crew went to Castlebar’s Gerry Casey and Peter O’Toole from Claremorris who steered their Ford Escort Mark 2 home in 36th position overall, and 6th in class 13. Putting in a fine drive also were Ambrose Gaughan from Foxford and Derek Molloy from Lahardane, finishing 49th overall and 3rd in class 9 in their Toyota Corolla. Derek’s brother Marcus was not far behind, the older Molloy and co-driver Keefe Kilcoyne from Westport taking 54th spot and 12th in class 11.
Another crew to claim a class award were Brendan Corcoran from Castlebar with co-driver John Fitzpatrick who finished third in class 2 and 66th overall, while Tubbercurry pairing Pat McGuinness and Paul Kennedy claimed yet another award for Mayo & District Motorsport Club with 3rd in class 12 and 72nd overall. And in class 7, Crossmolina’s John Duffy and co-driver John Egan, who were debuting a new Honda Integra, recovered well after losing significant time on the second stage with a high speed spin, taking 3rd in the category and finishing 76th overall. Rounding off the Mayo competitors to bring home glassware from their day’s rallying were the Killala / Castlebar pairing of Otto Gropler and Chrystal Culkeen who took third in class 5 and 83rd overall.
Also bringing their car home safely in 87th position were the Suzuki duo of Fergal Loughney and David Breen from Killala, while among those who didn’t get to see the finish flag was Bekan’s Sean McHugh who had multiple former national champion Paul McLoughlin from Claremoris alongside him for the first time. Despite setting good times, their BMW M3 Compact suffered a variety of problems eventually succumbing to a broken suspension arm on the fifth stage.
Other non-finishers included Killala’s Michael and David Loughney, Adrian Fahy and Aidan Fahy from Ballinrobe, Eoin McGreal and Jonathan Rice from Castlebar and Belmullet’s Ciaran Kennedy and Paul McGinnis.


Donegal Int and WRC Poland 2009

Locals On Form On Donegal Rally

Last week-end’s Donegal International Rally saw some strong performances from a number of Mayo competitors. In the National section of the rally James Culliney from Bekan and his Knock co-driver Eddie McLoughlin recorded a highly commendable 3rd in class 12 in their Ford Escort Mark 2. Gearbox problems on the opening day left them in a lowly 16th in class but thanks to some excellent work from their service team headed up by Colm Loughney and Niall Morley, the Mayo crew put in an excellent fightback to recover to 8th in class by the end of the day. They continued to progress through the field over the remaining two days to bring the Escort back to Letterkenny in 24th position overall.

Meanwhile Shane Buckley from Ballyhaunis recorded his best result of the season taking second in round 4 of the Fiesta SportTrophy Challenge. This highly competitive one-make series has attracted some of the most promising up and coming competitors in Ireland and abroad. Having suffered some bad luck on earlier rounds, Buckley and co-driver Thomas Maguire didn’t put a wheel wrong in Donegal. Despite a slow time on the opening test where they dropped over twenty seconds to eventual winner Craig Breen, they were quickly in their stride setting two fastest times on their way to the runner’s up spot. Also recording a good result was Paul McGee from Carrowmore-Lacken who co-drove Stephen Wright to fourth in Donegal.

With two rounds of the Fiesta SportTrophy remaining, Shane Buckley has moved into third place overall in the series, and will be hopeful of catching second placed competitor Mark Donnelly on the next round on the Ulster International Rally in August.

Duffy Flies Mayo Flag on Rally Poland

Top Mayo co-driver Killian Duffy was in action at the week-end on the inaugural Rally Poand, round 8 of the 2009 World Rally Championship. Navigating once again for up and coming UAE driver Ahmed Al Mansoori in a Ford Fiesta ST, the pair were under strict instructions from Ford bosses to record a finish following an accident on the previous round in Sardinia. Broken power steering on the opening day meant they had to compete under SupeRally rules, but the Crossmolina man duly navigated his young charge home safely in 30th position, scoring a fastest stage time along the way.

Cavan Stages Rally 2009

Gaughan and Molloy Fly Flag For Mayo on Cavan Stages Rally

by Cathal Doyle


Ambrose Gaughan from Foxford and his Lahardane co-driver Derek Molloy claimed one of the best results of their rally careers to date, with second in class 9 on Sunday’s Cavan Stages Rally. Competing in a Toyota Corolla the pair had a trouble-free run to finish 53rd overall from a starting position of 146, recording a great result against some very strong opposition.
Also bringing their car home safely were Gerry Casey from Castlebar and Peter O’Toole from Claremorris finishing in 52nd position in their Ford Escort.

Other Mayo competitors in action at the week-end did not fare quite as well. Ciaran Walsh and Aidan Gannon are battling for class 2 honours in the HASS Border Rally Championship with fellow locals Brendan Corocran and Shane O’Brien. However neither of the Honda Civic mounted rivals were to finish the Cavan Stages, mechanical woes and off-road excursions accounting for their respective retirements. At least for both crews the double non-finish keeps their championship battle wide open going into the second half of the season.
Internationally it was one of the busiest week-ends in the motorsport calendar, with events ranging from the Monaco Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 to the Sardinia round of the World Rally Championship vying for attention. Competing in the latter event (which was won by Ford’s Jari-Mati Latvala, breaking Sebastian Loeb’s string of successes in the process), was top Mayo co-driver Killian Duffy. The Crossmolina man was once again navigating for the up and coming Ahmed Al Mansoori in the Team Abu Dhabi Ford Fiesta ST. Unfortunately it wasn’t a successful event for the UAE / Irish pairing, a series of problems leading to their eventual retirement on the second day.
Meanwhile Killian’s erstwhile driver Aaron MacHale was having to do without his regular note-caller as he took part in the Jim Clark Rally in Scotland, round four of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. The Mayo & District Motorsport Club member still managed to being his Ford Focus WRC home in fifth position overall behind event winner Eugene Donnelly, scoring valuable championship points in the process.

Mourne Rally

Walsh & Gannon Claim Valuable Championship Points on Mourne Rally

Ciaran Walsh and Aidan Gannon moved a step closer to class success on the 2009 HASS Border Rally Championship with a hard fought third place on Saturday’s Mourne Rally.

The Ballinrobe driver and his Tubbercurry co-driver had a trouble free run on the Newry based event, reporting the stages slippy but enjoyable.

The result moves the Honda Civic crew into the lead of class 2 of the series with 2 rounds remaining in Sligo and Donegal.

Mayo Stages Rally 2009


Pre-event News:

Press Release: Tues. March 3rd
High speed action and drama will be the order of the day this week-end, as many of the best drivers and co-drivers in the country head westwards to battle for glory on the 2009 TF Royal Hotel & Theatre Mayo Stages Rally.

Despite these recessionary times, the rally has attracted a near capacity entry, with in excess of 130 competitors due to take the start. The Mayo Stages Rally is once again part of three major series – the Dunlop National Rally Championship, the Border Rally Championship – which this year welcomes a new title sponsor in the form of Donegal based Henderson Auto Sport & Spares (HASS), and the 205 Challenge.

Clerk of the Course Jonathan Rice and his experienced team of officials have spent the last number of months hard at work preparing for this major sporting occasion. The result is a mouth-watering selection of stages that will test competitors to the limits, while showcasing some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Using roads over the Sheeffry Hills and Partry Mountains in the south of the county, a total of eight stages run over three tests provide a total of 118 km stage mileage, enough to ensure plenty of thrills and spills before a winner is declared back at rally headquarters on Sunday evening.

Thanks To Sponsors
Title sponsor of the rally is once again the TF Royal Hotel & Theatre in Castlebar, which is also the rally headquarters for the week-end. Over the past number of years the TF has become well established as a firm favourite with rally competitors, and the club wishes to thank Pat Jennings and all the staff at the TF for their help and assistance in running this major sporting occasion.

Mayo & District Motorsport Club would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the sponsors who have supported the running of this rally, in particular the stage sponsors Casey Autoworld Castlebar and Ballina, West Tyre of Ballinrobe, and Carney’s Quarry of Aughagower.

A Full Days Rallying
The action gets underway on Sunday morning, March 8th with the first competitors leaving the TF at 9 am before tackling the first loop of three stages. Crews will then head for service, which is located in the Westport area, before tackling the same three stages a second time. After another refettle in service, final runs over the first and third stages in the loop will see the rally return to the TF in time to declare a winner at around 5.45 pm.

Leading Runners
2008 saw local success with Mayo & District Motorsport Club members Aaron MacHale and Killian Duffy recording a memorable victory. They are not competing this year, however much interest will focus on Aaron’s brother and number one seed Gareth MacHale, who debuts a new Opel Corsa Super 2000 in Mayo. This fabulous sounding machine, which competes in the Group N Showroom category, is the latest of a new breed of rally car, a variation of which is tipped to take over from the current World Rally Cars in 2010. He may find it difficult to challenge for overall victory but you can be sure Gareth will be pushing the little Opel to the limit over the Mayo stages.

Behind Gareth are a trio of Subaru WRC drivers who look set to fight it out for championship honours this year. Leading the challenge will be reigning National Rally Champion Patrick Elliott. The Cavan man has never won in Mayo but in the past year has become the man to beat at National level. Victory on the opening round of the championship in Birr two weeks ago underlines his determination to claim back-to-back championships.

Running at three is former multiple champion Niall Maguire. The popular Monaghan driver has already won in Mayo in 2002 and 2004, and would dearly love to claim a hat-trick of victories. Behind Niall is Kildare’s Kevin Barrett, sure to be close by to pick up the challenge for victory should the leading drivers falter.

The Group N battle for showroom specification cars also promises plenty of action with Anthony O’Halloran from Clare hoping to build on his recent strong result in Birr. He faces strong opposition from the likes of Gary Jennings, Sean Flanagan and last year’s winner Danny McBride. Meanwhile the Modified runners will be putting on a show as always, with the Escorts of Trevor Mulligan and Russell Woods leading the fray.

Local Competitors To The Fore
Needless to say, many local competitors will be hoping to bring glory to Mayo on their local event. John Higgins from Kiltimagh is the highest seeded local co-driver at number 8 sitting alongside Brian O’Mahony in a Renault Clio Super 1600. At 17 Westport’s Tom Muldoon and Tommy Nugent will be hoping to mix it with the leading Group N runners, while at 33, Gerry Casey from Castlebar, sponsor of stages one, four and seven, pits his Escort against the rapid opposition. Other quick local competitors in Escorts included James Culliney from Bekan and Colin Loughney from Killala at numbers 42 and 46 respectively, while watch out also for the fabulous sounding BMW M3 of Club Chairman Sean McHugh at 48.

But that’s just a sample of the many local competitors taking part; full details of all the crews, stage times and locations are included in the rally programme which will be on sale from Friday evening at all major service stations and shops in the Castlebar and Westport regions.

Press Release: Fri March 6th
Having seized the initiative on the opening round of the Dunlop National Rally Championship, defending champion, Patrick Elliott heads to the TF Royal Hotel & Theatre Mayo Rally (Sunday March 8th.) intent on scoring more valuable Dunlop championship points. The Cavan driver, who won his maiden national title last season, has no special plan for the eight stage encounter in the west of Ireland, “I’m going to keep doing the same thing, stay focussed on my driving. In Nenagh, I didn’t feel fully match fit but I think the pace will increase as the season evolves. I have no doubt that Niall will crank up his pace too. Mayo is always a tough rally, the roads can be dirty as it’s a busy time for the farming community. I’m certainly not over confident, any little mistake and you certainly pay for it.” Elliott set fastest times on all but one of the eight stages in Nenagh.

Meanwhile, Maguire knows that he cannot afford to allow Elliott dominate to the extent he did in Nenagh. The former triple national champion lost time with suspension related problems on the first pair of stages and a puncture on the sixth test ended any hopes of reeling in Elliott. Maguire will again be co-driven by fellow Monaghan man, Enda Sherry.

The Dunlop title-chasing duo of Elliott and Maguire are the respective second and third seeds with Gareth MacHale heading the entry in the Opel Corsa S2000 car. The Dubliner had intended to compete in Nenagh but wasn’t in possession of all the necessary homologation papers.

Maynooth’s, Kevin Barrett in the McKinstry prepared Subaru WRC occupies the number four berth, he was fourth in Nenagh, like Elliott and Maguire, he is also aware that it will take a few events to raise the pace of the series.

Having led the Group N category after the first stage in the opening round, Fermanagh’s, Garry Jennings (Mitsubishi) will be very determined on making up for the disappointment of retiring on the second stage with a throttle sensor issue. Indeed, he is quite capable of securing a top three finish in Mayo. Clare’s, Anthony O’Halloran, also in a Mitsubishi, currently second in the Patterson’s RallyNews Group N category, had a steady run in County Tipperary and will be keen to stay the pace. Meath’s, Sean Flanagan (Subaru) has regular co-driver, Brian Duggan back on the pacenotes and they are seeded at number seven.

Forced to retire some two kilometres from the finish of the final stage in Nenagh, Brian O’Mahony (Renault Clio S1600) aims to get back amongst the points in Castlebar. The Cork driver, a former Irish national Class 6 champion and Irish and British S1600 champion, dominated the two-wheel drive element in Nenagh, it will be interesting to watch his progress in Mayo. His co-driver is Kiltimagh native, John Higgins.
Donegal’s, Danny McBride (Mitsubishi) was a Class 4 winner on the final round of the Dunlop series in 2008, a significant result could bring further championship involvement. The top ten is completed by Camillus Bradley (Ford Escort), the Derry driver has a fine turn of speed and will have drivers such as Trevor Mulligan, Russell Woods, Daniel Conaghan and Eugene Ferry, all in Ford Escorts, as his opposition in the rear wheel drive category.

Elsewhere, the Mayo entry also includes Eamonn Daly (Mitsubishi), John Cairns (Subaru), Trevor Bustard (Mitsubishi), local Mayo driver, Tom Moldoon (Mitsubishi), Jack Maguire (Escort Cosworth), Gary McElhinney (Subaru Legacy), Raymond Conlon (Corolla) and Anthony Hand (Escort). The S1600 Citroen Saxo of Andrew Bushe and the Mitsubishi of Paul Elliott are also on the entry list.

Post Event News:
Defending Dunlop champions, Patrick Elliott/Paul Goodman (Subaru WRC) won the TF Royal Hotel & Theatre Mayo Rally, the second round of the Dunlop National Rally Championship. They finished six seconds ahead of Niall Maguire/Enda Sherry (Subaru WRC), in terms of the Dunlop championship, Elliott now leads Maguire by four points. Kevin Barett/Sean Mullally (Subaru WRC) took third place after they reeled in the Opel Corsa S2000 car of Gareth MacHale/Barry Goodman on the closing stages.

The opening stage, Big Maum, fell victim of the weather when a hailstorm made the conditions treacherous and the organisers decided it wasn’t safe to run in competitive mode. On the second test, Barnaderg, Elliott set the pace, 13 seconds clear of Maguire with Gareth MacHale a further ten seconds behind in third. Elliott was also quickest on the third stage, despite an overshoot that cost him some ten seconds. He arrived at the Westport service halt with a 16 second advantage. Maguire admitted he struggled in the conditions while third placed MacHale was acclimatising to the Opel Corsa S2000. Kevin Barett in fourth had to back off towards the end of the third test amidst a heavy hail shower. Garry Jennings (Mitsubishi) was untroubled in fifth with local driver, Tom Muldoon (Mitsubishi) some 20 seconds adrift in sixth place. Reserve entry, Thomas Fitzmaurice (Mitsubishi) was next in a top ten that also included the Mk. 2 Escort of Anthony Hand; Danny McBride (Mitsubishi) and Jack Maguire (Escort Cosworth). Elsewhere, Brian O’Mahony (Renault Clio) lost time with fuel problems, he was 13th. overall while Trevor Mulligan onboard an errant handling Ford Escort, was down in 46th. place.

On the first run over Big Maum, S.S. 4, Elliott added a further three seconds to his lead with Maguire and MacHale completing an unchanged top three. Kevin Barrett moved to within six seconds of MacHale. Meanwhile, Jennings lost a few seconds when he experienced fuel problems at the start of the test.

Elliott spun on the fifth test and lost the front bumper of his Subaru, he was fortunate not to have experienced any further damage in the 360 degree spin. At service, he had no explanation, ” I really don’t know why it happened, I touched the brakes approaching a left hand bend and it just spun around. I didn’t see any oil, I was really very lucky and I reckon I only dropped about ten seconds.”

The resultant damage caused handling problems through Stage 6 and Maguire, who was fastest on both stages, cut the deficit to three seconds. MacHale, in third, reckoned the suspension was too stiff for the Mayo roads, he was also losing time on the fast sections of the stages. The Dubliner was a minute and 31 seconds off second spot and just a mere second ahead of Kevin Barrett, who remarked on the difficult nature of the stages.

Jennings remained in fifth – his Mitsubishi tended to flood at the start of the stages. Danny McBride also in a Mitsubishi, was next – 25 seconds further behind. O’Mahony made strong progress to move into seventh in a top ten rounded off by Fergal Costello (Mitsubishi), Thomas Fitzmaurice (Mitsubishi) and Jack Maguire (Escort Cosworth). Local hero, Tom Muldoon retired his Mitsubishi with a broken differential while Sean Flanagan (Subaru) lost several places with a spin on almost every stage.

On the penultimate test, Elliott gained a precious second on Maguire to lead by four seconds. He added two more seconds on the final test that gave him a six second winning margin. “Niall (Maguire) and myself had the wrong tyres for the final stages, we had full wets and the roads were dry. It was far from being a foregone conclusion, I had to battle hard against him (Niall). It was a hard rally to win and I suppose I didn’t make it any easier on myself either.” said a delighted Elliott at the finish.

Maguire took second and Barrett increased his pace to snatch a late third place. Elsewhere, MacHale was fourth on his debut in the Opel Corsa S2000 while Jennings took top points in the Patterson’s RallyNews Group N category. Danny McBride (Mitsubishi) overcame mechanical problems to claim sixth.

Brian O’Mahony (Renault Clio S1600) took seventh and top points for the inaugural award for two-wheel drive competitors. Thomas Fitzmaurice (Mitsubishi), Paul Elliott (Mitsubishi) and Russell Woods (Escort) filled the remaining places in the top ten. The latter pair were separated on a tie-break with Elliott getting the verdict by virtue of being fastest on the final stage. Anthony O’Halloran (Mitsubishi) and Sean Flanagan (Subaru) improved on the final stages to take eleventh and twelfth respectively. Fergal Costello crashed his Mitsubishi out of seventh place on the final test. Mulligan (Escort) finished sixteenth.

Results for Top 10 places:

1 Patrick Elliott/Paul Goodman (Subaru Impreza WRC) 55m 22s,
2 Niall Maguire/ Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC) 55m 28s,
3 Kevin Barrett/Sean Mullally (Subaru Impreza WRC) 57m 37s,
4 Gareth MacHale/Barry Goodman (Opel Corsa S2000) 57m 45s,
5 Gary Jennings/Martin Brady (Mit. Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 58m 32s,
6 Danny MacBride/Jonathan Gallager (Mit. Lancer Evo 8 Gp N) 60m 22s,
7 Brian O’Mahony/John Higgins (Renault Clio S1600) 60m 41s,
8 Thomas Fitzmaurice/Fionn Foley (Mit. Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 61m 31s,
9 Paul Elliott/Brian Doherty (Mit. Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 61m 32s,
10 Russell Woods/Martin Byrne (Ford Escort Mk II) 61m 32s.

Limerick Stages Rally 2009

After an extended break of over two months, the Dunlop National Rally Championship resumed with Sunday’s Circuit of Munster Stages Rally. The Limerick based rally was won by Niall Maguire, the Monaghan Subaru driver taking his third successive victory of recent weeks after championship rival Patrick Elliott put his similar car of the road on the final stage.
Mayo honours were upheld by Sean McHugh, who, with his Sligo co-driver Niall Burns, finished an excellent 27th overall as well taking second in class 14.
p015_1_00 Since identifying a rear suspension problem with his BMW M3 Compact earlier this year, the Bekan man has been recording ever better results in a class which features some of the most rapid competitors in the country.
Other Mayo crews in action in Limerick included Castlebar’s Gerry Casey and Peter O’Toole from Claremorris, but alternator problems with their Ford Escort meant they exceeded their maximum lateness and were excluded from the results. Killalla’s Otto Gropler and Castlebar co-driver Chrystal Culkeen also failed to finish after putting their Ford KA off the road on the opening stage.

Young Driver Championship 2009

Eighteen year old Justin Ryan from Headford Co. Galway was recently crowned the Mayo & Districts Motor sport Club young Driver Champion.

Justin who is studying Arts in N.U.I Galway managed to clinch the title by one point on the final round of the four round series based in Harringtons Quarry Swinford.
The battle commenced on the 17th of May the first event of the Mayo & District Motor Sport Club’s Loose Surface Autocross. This was to prove a steep learning curve for the Ryan Motor sport Team. During the winter layoff from competition Justin and his father John Paul, upgraded their 1.4 Honda Civic to a 1.6 this was to prove a decisive move for the pair and the championship.
On the first round the father and son duo were joined by Justin cousin Llyod Moran. Each family member got three runs* over the 2.5km quarry circuit, (One run equaling three laps each*) The day began badly for the three as on the first run John Paul rolled the car. Luckily it was only cosmetic damage and Justin and Llyod managed to complete their three timed runs. Justin overcame the damage and steadily got to grips with the extra power from the new engine. By the end of the day Justin was putting in some scintillating times.He ended the event in 20th place overall and managed to bag seven young drivers points. This was to be a very good start for Justin and it would set him up well for the championship.
Round two took place on the 14th of June where Justin was to face stiffer opposition with over twenty people competing in his class (Class 2) eventually he finished 26th overall and 10th in class. He was lucky to secure a big points haul receiving 10 points towards his championship campaign. This was to put him in fourth in the Championship. He was now bedding into the car and on the next event on the 9th of August he was to take the maximum points haul putting him in a commanding position for the championship.

Round three, was to be a pivotal day in Justin’s championship as he showed his true speed finally getting comfortable in the car. He finished an incredible third in class and 21st overall, this was to put him joint second in the championship just one point behind his neighbour Alan Higgins going into the final round.
D-Day, The final round on the 12th of October, after competing on their local Rally “The Galway Summer” Justin and John Paul had fitted bigger brakes to the Honda Civic along with brand new tyres. Every measure was taken to make sure Justin went as fast as he could and that’s what he did. When dropped scores came into effect after the event Justin was to win the Championship just one point ahead of Kilmane’s Peter Conroy. Peter who was teammate with Alan Higgins beat Alan by one tenth of a second on the final run of the day this meant that Alan lost two points giving Justin the win.
Justin: “It wasn’t until the Tuesday after the event that I got the news that I had won” “I didn’t believe it at first but its great to win” “we were all sure Alan had taken the championship so it was even better to beat him! As he is probably the best driver out there”
Well with a bit of luck on his side and some incredible driving during the year Justin proved that he is defiantly a force to be reckoned with for next season.
Justin would like to thank his father John Paul for maintaining the car for him all year, and his sponsors M&R Motors Shrule and West Tyre Ballinrobe.

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