Mayo Stages Rally – Post Event News
Celebrating at the finish of the Mayo Stages Rally:
Danny McHugh – McWilliam Park Hotel, Aaron MacHale – Mayo Motorsport Club, Kathleen Kennedy – Mayo Motorsport Club, Kevin Barrett, Sean McHugh – CoC, Mayo Stages Rally, Sean Mullally – winning co-driver, Seamus Coffey – Mayo Motorsport Club, Ella and Danny McHugh – Costcutters and Supermacs Balindine.
Masterful Display From Barrett on Mayo Stages Rally
A year ago Kevin Barrett was the bridesmaid, the runner-up who had to watch as Melvyn Evans sprayed the victory champagne on the finish ramp of the 2010 Mayo Stages Rally. Twelve months on and there was no watching from the sidelines. This time around the genial Kildare man not just won the Mayo Stages Rally, he dominated it.
A measure of his commitment could be seen from his time on the opening test Woodstock near Irishtown. Last year, this stage proved the difference between Evans and the Triton Showers sponsored Subaru, Barrett unable to match the Welshman’s times on any of the three runs. By the end of the first stage in 2011, the rest of the field knew that Barrett and co-driver Sean Mullally meant business. They had set a time twenty-five seconds faster than their nearest challengers Niall Maguire and Enda Sherry.
“Yes, we knew from last year that we needed to attack and have a go from the start” explained Kevin at the rally prizegiving on Sunday night. “Luckily it worked for us, they were tricky conditions, but we pulled a bit of time and it opened a bit of a margin for us.”By the end of the first loop that gap was extended to forty seven seconds, and from there on it was just a case of keeping the Subaru WRC on the straight and narrow.
Maguire mounted the occasional counter-attack but Barrett never allowed the Monaghan man get too close and while all around complained of wrong tyre choices, the number one seeds sailed serenely on to victory celebrations back at the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris. Game Set and Match to the Kildare / Limerick pairing.Maguire struggled with tyre choices all day as did the man who finished third, Seamus Leonard in another Subaru. At least they finished though, the fourth member of the Subaru WRC clan Adrian McElvanney on his return to rallying after an extended absence forced to call it an early day when his gearbox cried enough.
The conditions were the talking point throughout the day, rain and sleet combining with muddy roads to make it extremely slippery for competitors. One of the first to get caught out was Welsh visitor Phil Collins who failed to get to the end of the first stage in his pristine Escort. It left the way open for Austin McHale to claim the award for the Rally of Legends Champion, and the five times Tarmac Champion didn’t disappoint in his wonderfully liveried Xtravision BMW M3, getting ever quicker throughout the day to finish in a more than creditable 11th overall.
In what was a difficult day for two wheel drive cars, Camillus Bradley’s Escort was the highest placed non-4WD after rally long battles with the similar class 14 cars of Declan Boyle and Trevor Mulligan. Ahead of them Trevor Bustard was fourth and the winner of Group N, but that was only after Stuart Darcy, who had last year’s Clerk of the Course Eamonn Walsh from Claremorris co-driving, suffered the cruel disappointment of a differential failure – as they went past the finish of the final stage. Rallying can be a cruel sport sometimes.Geoffrey Dolan put in impressive times all day in his Sunbeam, while Jonathan Folan belied his number 41 seeding to take ninth in his Subaru ahead of Michael Conlon’s Escort.
The Sligo Pallets Drive of the Day Award went to Meath’s James Cassidy and John Norris for their fastest time in class 12 on Special Stage Three while among the five winners of the Honda Challenge who each won prizes to the value of €500 was Ballinrobe’s Ciaran Walsh. Brothers Colin and Michael Loughney brought their Ford Escort home in 17th place to claim the prize for the highest placed Mayo & District Motorsport Club finisher despite late gearbox dramas.
A popular victory for Kevin Barrett and another hugely successful rally for Mayo & District Motorsport Club despite the challenging weather conditions.