The last nuts and bolts are being tightened on rally cars, race suits and helmets are being dusted down, and navigators are logging on to Google Maps to find directions to Ballina. The final countdown to the Hotel Ballina & Kennedy Motors Mayo Stages Rally 2013 is underway before the high-octane action takes place this week-end. Rally Countdown … all go from Friday evening With competitors arriving from Friday afternoon on, the first task for the drivers and co-drivers after signing-on to the event is on Saturday morning March 9th, when they drive the rally stages in their road cars making pacenotes to use the following day. Later in the day, the rally cars will be presented for scrutineering where they have to pass stringent road and rally safety requirements before being allowed to take part in the rally. After that the cars are locked away securely in Parc Ferme ahead of the start of the rally. Ceremonial Start For the public, the rally gets underway in earnest on Saturday when the leading competitors as well as all the local drivers gather on Pearse Street, in Ballina town centre for the Ceremonial Start. Now in its fourth year, this is a great opportunity to see the rally cars and stars up close, and is especially suitable for families with small children. Pearse Street will be closed to traffic from 6pm with diversions in place. The rally cars will start arriving from 7pm with the cars passing over the starting ramp where the drivers will be interviewed at 9pm. Open air music and entertainment will take place during the evening. When the flag drops…. The serious competition starts on Sunday morning, with the leading cars leaving Parc Ferme in Hotel Ballina at 10 am to tackle the nine challenging special stages. The first stage Cloonta runs for the first time at 10.45 am. Stage two, Lough Brohly, gets underway at 11.05 am, and stage three, Ballymore Lough, which is near Attymass runs at 11.35 am. The cars then return to service in Ballina Mart on the Crossmolina Road, before tacking the loop of three stages two more times. The leading cars are due back at the rally finish at Hotel Ballina at 5 pm. Full details of maps and times will be available in the rally programmes which will be on sale in shops and garages around the area from Friday evening. Online users can follow Mayo & District Motorsport Club’s Twitter (@mayomotorclub) and Facebook ( www.facebook.com/mayomotorsportclub ) updated during the week-end with all the latest news, times and competitor quotes, or can check into the club website ( www.mayomotorsportclub.com ). Rally updates will also be available during the day on local radio, as Midwest Radio will carry live coverage of the event on the Sunday Sports Show from their Roadcaster, which will be based in the Service Park. High Quality Entry Field Perhaps inevitably the current difficult economic environment has meant fewer WRC cars taking part on this year’s Mayo Stages Rally, compared to recent years, butnonetheless a quality field is all set for the challenge of tackling the Hotel Ballina Kennedy Motors backed event. Seeded at No 1 are cousins Declan and Brian Boyle from Donegal in their Subaru WRC, fresh from their victory on the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel Rally in Birr two weeks ago. Best known for his exploits in his 2.5 Mark 2 Escort, Declan is now competing at the top end of rallying in Ireland, having acquired the ex-Tim McNulty Subaru S12 in the second half of last year. Any doubts as to whether he could compete at the highest level were quickly silenced with a string of fine results including an overall win on his debut with the car on the Galway Summer Rally which was followed by 2nd place finishes on the Cork 20 and Donegal Harvest, 3rd in the Galway International Rally and the recent win in Birr. Declan and Brian are getting quicker in the car with each event and promise to be spectacular to watch in Mayo. At 2 are Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan in their Airtricity backed S11 Subaru Impreza. After a somewhat frustrating 2012 the boys are now finding their feet in the WRC car after a 5th place finish in Galway and it would be no surprise if the Donegal pair led the rally at the finish at 5pm on Sunday evening. The first Group N car is No 3 seed Pat Kirk from Strabane in an Evo 9. He will have Paddy McVeigh chasing him in his new Subaru Impreza S10 in car number 4. Paddy’s regular co-driver Stephen O’Hanlon will be marking his 100th rally on this year’s Mayo Stages. Top Modified competitor is Declan Gallagher in his Toyota Starlet at number 5, Declan likely to be mixing it with the 4wd boys. Camillus Bradley, Jonathan Pringle, Rodney Wilton and Russell Woods fill the next four places in the top 10, in similar looking but different spec Ford Escorts Mark 2’s. All are capable of top results, particularly if weather conditions are dry. Mayo & District Motorsport Club Members & Border Rally Championships sponsors Andrew Mullen and Elaine Doherty round off the top 10 in their Group N Evo 9 while another note-worthy entry is the reigning Border Rally Champions Arthur and Mac Kierans who are seeded just outside the top 10 in their MK2 Escort. Locals All Set For Mayo Stages Rally Needless to say many local competitors will be hoping to get good results on their local event. Behind the tenth seeds Andrew Mullen and Elaine Doherty from Ballisodare, the next highest local competitor is Mervyn Deane. The rapid Williamstown driver faces a tough challenge against the top competitors in class 13 in his Escort. At 24 are Ballinrobe based Sligo man John Warren and Ruthann O Connor from Kilmaine, in their McHales Farm Machinery sponsored Toyota Corolla, the pair having set some impressive times on this event last year before an off road excursion on the penultimate stage ended their rally. Ballinrobe father and son team Adrian and Aidan Fahy are at 41 in their class 13 Escort, they would like to thank We Fix Chimneys & Proactive Security both from Ballinrobe for their sponsorship. Shane Buckley is in a class 11 Honda Civic running number 44. Joint main sponsor Ciaran Kennedy from Kennedy Motors, Ballina & Belmullet is at number 46 and has Paddy O’Hora alongside him on the notes. Kenneth McHale and Derek McCarthy are seeded at 49, in a rather different car to that in which they achieved much success in the past. The Knockmore / Ballina pairing, who previously won class 1 on the 2007 Rally Ireland WRC event in a Toyota Yaris, are competing on this year’s Mayo Stages in a class 15 Subaru Impreza. Former Mayo Motorsport Club chairman Sean McHugh from Bekan has Niall Morley from Knock alongside him this year in his fabulous sounding BMW at number 51. Barry Cuffe starts at 60 in his class 13 Escort, just one place ahead of current Mayo & District Motorsport Club Chairman Matthew Murphy from Shrule, in his Westtyre Ballinrobe and M&R Motors Shrule backed class 11 Toyota Corolla, Matthew has his brother Ronan, on the notes for him. Keith McFadden from Turlough makes his return to rallying at 67 in a class 7 Clio. Headford and Ballinrobe parthership of Justin Ryan and Andy Walsh are at 68 in their Honda Civic and hope to improve on last year where they narrowly failed to claim an award for third in the very competitive class 2. Another class 2 Honda Civic pairing of Tony Langdon and Eddie Quinn are 71. At 74, Mayo Young Driver Autocross Champion Alan Moran from Foxford makes the jump to class 10 in his recently beefed up Opel Kadett. Alan has Jared Gill from Bofeenaun, sitting with him for this event. Killala pairing of Gavin and Raymond Carroll are 78 in a Nova, while Ballina man Darragh Devine hopes to enjoy his first day out rallying in a Civic at 86. He has experienced navigator Paul McGee to help keep him between the ditches. Shrule man and former National Junior Autocross champion Noel Murphy is another one to make his debut in tarmac rallying at Mayo this year. Seeded 87 in another car from the WestTyre and M&R Motors stable, he hopes to bring his Honda Civic home to a good result in the Junior section of the rally. At 89 Aubrey Carson has Mary McAndrew to help guide him home in his class 10 Nova.
Mayo Stages Rally Preview