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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News Archive 2008

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