Qatar International Rally 2014: Rally, Sand, Sun!
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah is used to driving under pressure, but he and Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini were pushed all the way to the finish of a thrilling Qatar International Rally, the opening round of the 2014 Middle East Rally Championships, by fellow countryman Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari on Friday and Saturday last.
Separated by just 5.5 seconds at the start of the second day, Al-Attiyah pressed home a slight advantage once Al-Kuwari and Mayo navigator Killian Duffy suffered a drive shaft breakage. The nine-time MERC champion, driving a Ford Fiesta RRC, duly secured his 11th Qatar win in 12 years. His winning margin was 30.1 seconds from Al-Kuwari and Duffy who finished in second place.
“We’re happy with our performance, especially since this is our first event since WRC in Spain last October,” said Duffy. “Nasser’s record here speaks for itself and we are delighted to have pushed him so hard.”
Al Kuwari and Duffy spun on Thursday night’s opening super special and lost around six seconds, that along with a puncture on SS5 and the drive shaft trouble on SS9 meant it was very nearly a much needed, dream start to 2014 for the pairing.
They had intended to use a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution in this year’s event, but the Qatari took the decision to wheel out a Motortune-run Ford Fiesta RRC thanks to family financial support. 34-year-old Al-Kuwari is coming off a four-month forced hiatus away from rallying thanks to lack of sponsorship.
The Qatari Irish partnership had a big World Rally Championship (WRC) season in 2013. With little experience at the world level, they won three WRC-2 rallies—Mexico, Argentina and Australia—finishing second behind former Formula One driver Robert Kubica in the final season standings.
“I have made a lot of efforts. I have a lot of promises that I will get sponsorship. But I don’t know because the time is running out. Mexico WRC is starting in two weeks’ time. We are in the entry list but I don’t know if I will do it because the time is really short. We have to ship the car from UK to Mexico; it is a long distance. And we might also miss Portugal, where we raced last year. The entry is closing in two weeks. I am losing time, something will have to work out quickly,” Al-Kuwari added.
When asked if he ever thought of giving up the sport due to lack of sponsorship. “I have been racing for 11 years now. I have faced more difficult situations than I am in now. But I never gave up.
Kiltimagh’s John Higgins also made last weekend’s trip to Qatar. Not just there to keep Killian Duffy company on the 6000km plane journey, John had the role of navigating Qatari rookie Juma Al Falasi.
After undergoing extensive preparations over the last two months, Al Falasi got his first taste of competitive action in the desert! Competing in a Citroën DS3 R3, running as part of the Abu Dhabi Racing Team, the pair put in a solid performance over the two day event to finish in 11th place overall, gaining valuable experience along the way.
2014 Galway International Rally
Photos courtesy of Stefan Lassus www.facebook.com/Salmix – Fergus Hassett & Sean McHugh
The Irish rally season, and more specifically the Irish Tarmac Championships, roared into action over the weekend with the Colm Quinn BMW Galway International Rally. The event reverted back to a two-day format with the stages based in the south Galway area.
Clerk of the course Kieran Donoghue and his Galway Motor Club team did a heroic job in keeping the rally going through the flooded countryside, working with local residents and the local authorities to ensure the event went ahead with the forbearance and support of residents along the route.
Donegal’s cousins Declan & Brian Boyle won the event but they didn’t have things all their own way. Fellow county man and last years Irish Tarmac Champion Garry Jennings, with Rory Kennedy on the notes, had at one stage closed to within 0.2 of a second of Boyle, who had concerns about overheating coolant that led to the car lapsing on to three cylinders. Jennings though aquaplaned on Stage 8 and lost time, ending his hopes of grabbing the win. The Boyle’s kept their cool to make it a Subaru 1,2 and take their first International win.
The Ford Focus of Donagh Kelly & Kevin Flanagan, claimed third on the final stage after Sam Moffett clipped a rock and damaged a wheel rim, forcing him and his navigator James O’Reilly to settle for fourth.
Stephen McCann, in a Mitsubishi, won Group N and Declan Gallagher in a Toyota Starlet won the National category.
Local Mayo interest was with Bekan’s Sean McHugh and his co-driver Aidan Gannon from Tubbercurry, the pair, after a demanding two days brought their BMW home a splendid second in class 14 in the national section of the rally.
Kiltmagh native Eamon Walsh navigated Aaron McHale to finished just one place outside the top 10 of the International section and sixth in Group N.
Westport’s David Carney in his newly acquired Citroen DS3, had an unlucky start to the event, misjudging braking on stage 1 his DS3 came to rest on a bank, not causing much damage but a leaking radiator forced him and his navigator Ray Fitzpatrick to withdraw from the event.
Headford’s Justin Ryan had Andy Walsh from Ballinrobe on the notes in the junior section of the rally. The pair who contested the first six stages on Sunday got off to a blistering start in their Honda Civic. Sitting second in their class and third overall after stage 2, they were unfortunate on stage 3 when after a heavy landing an electrical problem stalled the engine. Losing a lot of time getting the car restarted the pair received the stage maximum time leaving them with a impossible mountain to climb, undeterred they went on to set some impressive times on their remaining 3 stages.
All attention now turns to the Mayo Stages Rally, which takes place on Sunday March 9th, with entries already coming in rapidly for the Ballina based event, the question on everybody lips is, with Declan Boyle’s good start to the year can he once again be the fastest around north Mayo and add to his 2013 Mayo win?
|Road Safety RoadshowA hard-hitting road safety message was delivered to over 1000 teenagers at the Royal Theatre in Castlebar, Co Mayo on Thursday last, when they viewed the AXA Insurance award-winning Road Safety Roadshow. The event was organised in conjunction with Mayo County Council, An Garda Siochana and the local emergency services.
Before the Roadshow began a boisterous crowd of transition and senior year students hustled their way to their seats in the Theatre. But it wasn’t too long before a silence fell on the room.
The show graphically depicts how a night out ends in tragedy for a teenager after a road traffic accident. The story was told by a Garda officer,a paramedic, a fire officer, an emergency consultant, an undertaker, a mother of a victim and Richard Alcorn from Donegal, who was paralysed following a road traffic collision a number of years ago. Richard has lost a number of friends in road traffic collisions and is keen to help deliver the road safety message to others in the country.
Local Crews Ready For Action On Mayo Stages Rally
No fewer than 48 local competitors will be taking part on their home rally this weekend, all hoping for a successful and safe rally.
Mayo & District Motorsport Club members Aaron MacHale and Kiltimagh’s Eamonn Walsh head the local runners at number 17 in their Supermac’s backed Mitsubishi Evo 9.
At number 28 is David Carney from Westport in his newly acquired Citroen DS3-R3T. Having been highly successful in his Citroen C2R2, he is hoping to continue that form in the more powerful new mount backed by Carney Quarry’s.
At 30 are Ballinrobe based Sligo man John Warren, and Ruthann O Connor from Kilmaine, in their McHale’s Engineering sponsored Toyota Corolla, the pair set some impressive times in last year’s event. Two places behind them, Sligo’s Darragh Mullen is navigating for David Leonard in a class 20 Mistubishi Lancer. The class 12 Ford Escort of Colin Loughney is at 41. South Mayo based Colin is likely to be challenging for class honours.
Aidan Gannon from just out the road in Tubbercurry, navigates for Anthony O’Brien in a class 20 Evo 8 running at number 48.
Shane Buckley is in a class 11 Honda Civic running at number 52, navigated by Westport’s Keefe Kilcoyne.
There could be a battle for local honours in class 15 as Derek Bolton and Trevor O’Connell from Ballaghadereen come up against Kenneth McHale and Derek McCarthy from Knockmore. They will pit their very similar looking white Subaru Impreza’s against each other. James McGreal from Foxford makes a popular return to rallying in Mitsubishi Evo with Chris Mitchell on pacenote duties. Special mention also for Galway based, Knock native, Sharon Egan also competing in class 15, where she is navigating for Kieran Donohue.
UK based Westport man Ed Muldoon competes in a group N Mitsubishi Evo 9 running at number 72.
Joint main sponsor Ciaran Kennedy from Kennedy Motors, Ballina & Belmullet is at number 76 and has Paddy O’Hora alongside him on the notes.
Former Mayo Motorsport Club chairman Sean McHugh from Bekan, fresh from finishing second in his class on the Galway International, has his fabulous sounding BMW at number 85.
At 97 is Belcarra man Barry Cuffe and who takes his Cuffe Car Sales backed rear wheel drive Ford Escort out on his local event, along with Shane O’Brien on the notes.
Husband and wife team Keith and Sandra McFadden from Castlebar are at 101 in a class 7 Clio.
At 103 is the West Tyre Ballinrobe sponsored class 11 Corolla of Mayo & District Motorsport Club Chairman Matthew Murphy accompanied by his brother Ronan.
Club secretary John Duffy takes his class 7 Honda Integra out for his local event. The Crossmolina man has John Egan in the navigator’s seat.
Ballina pairing Tony Langdon and Eddie Quinn take on their home stages in a class 6 Honda Civic.
Former rally official David Doherty from Ballinlough has Cormac Lyons on the notes as he swaps the organising for competitive action in a Peugeot 306.
Darragh Devine with Paul McGee hope to repeat last year’s solid performance in their Honda Civic, number 134 on the road.
At 135 will be Patrick Durcan and James Gilmartin from Bonniconlon in their class 9 Vauxhall Nova.
The Greavy family from Bonniconlon are well represented on the entry list. Trisha, competing in her first ever event will be driving a Honda Civic, with Darren Gilmartin on the notes. Her brothers Terry and Brendan Greavy are one place ahead of their sister, at 138 competing in a class 9 Ford Escort.
Martin Cawley and Kenny Langan are yet another crew from Ballina competing on their home stages using a class 10 Peugeot 205 they have number 140 on their doors..
The hotly contested Junior category sees many locals vying for honours. Defending his crown from 2013 will be Shrule’s Noel Murphy after winning the Mayo Junior category on his first foray into stage rallying 12 months ago. His confidence should be high after securing the Mayo Young Drivers title for 2013 in his M&R Motors/Westtyre backed Honda Civic. He will have some stiff local competition with two former Mayo Young Driver’s Champions also competing in the Junior category. Alan Moran from Foxford has a Peugeot 206 at his disposal, while Headford’s Justin Ryan will have Andy Walsh from Ballinrobe navigating him in their group N Honda Civic which is sponsored by Arrabawn, Talco Group, ProActive Security Systems Ballinrobe and Sweeney Oil. Experienced autocross competitor Stephen Doherty from Foxford makes the jump to stages rallying in his recently beefed up Moran Nurseries backed Opel Kadett. Stephen has Jared Gill from Bofeenaun, sitting with him for this event.
Best of luck and a safe day’s rallying to all the local competitors.
Before the flag drops….
Full details of maps and times will be available in the rally programmes which will be on sale in shops and garages around the Ballina area from Friday evening, priced at €5.
Online users can follow Mayo & District Motorsport Club’s Twitter and Facebook accounts which will be continually updated during the week and week-end with all the latest news, times and competitor quotes, or can check here on the club website.
Regular updates can also be heard on Mid West Radio during Sunday’s event as live links from the service park will run during the Sunday Sports show on 96.1 and www.midwestradio.ie
Click below for regulations,entry forms and results for relevant championships for Mayo autocrosses 2014:
Congratulations to Mayo’s own Killian Duffy who has won a Western People Sports Star for Motorsport.This is yet another major achievement for the Claremorris based Crossmolina co-driver and tops off a remarkable 2013 for him. We all wish Killian every success in the coming year.The awards will be presented at a gala function in Hotel Ballina on Friday 21st of February.
Photos by John Delaney
It looked like “business as usual” at the first autocross event of 2014 as Adrian and Derek Deane were both inside the top 3, after the first run at the Midland Motorclub Autocross. But the brothers only completed one run before their afternoon took an unfamiliar twist. A broken drive on Derek’s second run followed by suspension damage on Adrian’s final run meant that both their first runs would count as their fastest run of the day.
|Finishing hot on the heels of McGreal was Bekan’s Sean McHugh, who while claiming third in class 4 said afterwards that 2014 was the year he was going to finally beat McGreal!
Finishing third in class 2, while still learning his recently acquired Peugeot 206, was Alan Moran from Foxford. Alan has proved in the past that he has the ability to produce results on loose surface and 2014 should be the year that he knocks on the door even more loudly as the 206 is perhaps more suited to the loose surface than his former Opel Kadett.
Finally a mention for Alan McGuire from Westport. An experienced mechanic and motorsport enthusiast, he got a different insight into the sport on Sunday, making his competitive motorsport debut behind the wheel of a class 2 Peugeot 205. He steadily improved his times on each of his runs, which seen him finish a very respectful sixth in Class 2.