The Quality Hotel Clonakilty West Cork Rally 2015 is now only a couple of days away and there is a sense of excitement and anticipation around the town for the second round of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.
All categories are currently full with almost 200 cars due to compete on the event this coming St. Patricks weekend, and the rallyhas one of its strongest ever line ups.
Top seeds are last year’s winners Donagh Kelly & Kevin Flanagan in their Focus WRC and this crew currently lead the Tarmac Championship after their fine win in Galway last month.
The reigning Tarmac Champions, Declan & Brian Boyle are at 2 in a Subaru Impreza WRC and despite not having competed in Clonakilty before will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing fifth overall in Galway when road penalties cost them a potential win.
Another former winner is at 3 as Daragh O’Riordan wheels out his Fiesta WRC and he will have Derryman Tony McDaid on the notes as always. Daragh won this event in 2012 and retired from third place late on last year’s event so will be hoping for better luck this year.
The fourth seeds are Sam Moffett & Karl Atkinson who are also Fiesta WRC mounted and Sam is currently lying third in the championship. Sam has competed a couple of times in Clonakilty in the past so will be no stranger to the nature of the roads in West Cork.
Melvyn Evans was a first stage retirement last year and the two time winner will be hoping for better luck in 2015. Melvyn will be co-driven by Mark Glennerster and drives an Impreza WRC S12.
Rounding off a quality top six are Josh Moffett & John Rowan who are making their first attempt at West Cork in another Fiesta WRC and will be looking to build on a fine fourth place in Galway.
Owen Murphy & Anthony Nestor were early retirements last year, but the number seven seeds are back in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 and are planning to push hard from the word go.
A pair of exciting R5 cars are at eight and nine in the hands of Jonny Greer / Kirsty Riddick (Citroen DS3) and Stephen Wright / Mikie Galvin (Fiesta) , and this battle should be fascinating.
Greer had a very good drive in Galway to take seventh place while Wright is making his Tarmac debut in his new car and will be hoping to call on his experience on the event from last year to give him an advantage.
Rounding off the top ten are Declan Gallagher & Ryan Moore in their Toyota Starlet who are the reigning Irish Tarmac Modified Champions and are also leading this year’s championship after the first round.
Outside of the top ten there are many excellent driver / co-driver combinations including the Escorts of Wesley Patterson / Johnny Baird, Adrian Hetherington / Gary Nolan and Phil Collins / Diarmuid Falvey.
Group N should see a good battle between Aaron McHale / Paul McGee, Brian O’Keeffe / Sean Hayde and Brendan Cumiskey / Ronan O’Kane.
There is a lot of quality down the field as well which should ensure a lot of excitement and action for spectators over the weekend.
The Historic Rally looks to have one of its best entries in years, and they will be led away by the amazing Volvo of James O’Mahony & Patrick McDonagh followed by the Escort RS of Rob Smith & Alun Cook.
Current Historic Tarmac Champion Denis Moynihan with Gerard Conway co-driving will be expected to perform strongly as always and the top five is rounded off by a pair of rapid Escorts in the hands of Ernie & Will Graham and Gareth Lloyd / Den Golding.
The Junior Rally has attracted a large number of entries and Rob Duggan / Keith Moriarty are the hot favourites here in their new Fiesta R2.
They are followed by James Bradley & Maria Kehoe in a Honda Civic with Conor McCarthy & Dylan Coffey also in a Civic at number three.
The Rally is the opening round of the popular PlasticBags,ie Southern 4 Rally Championship as usual.
The Bones O’Connor Modified Challenge will also be back for a ninth year and has yet to be won by a Mk2 Escort, and was won by Declan Gallagher in his Starlet in 2014.
Mechanical Scrutiny will take place at Clonakilty Car Care on Friday 13th March from 3pm to 9.30pm, while Documentation Scrutiny will take place upstairs in the Quality Hotel from 3pm until 10pm.
Competitors are reminded that they have 30 minutes to attend documentation on completion of mechanical scrutiny.
There will be a ceremonial start in Astna Square in the town at 7.30pm where the top twenty cars will appear.
Parc Ferme is in the Model Railway Village as usual and the cars will leave here at 10.30am to tackle the first stage on Saturday morning, which is the classic Ring test.
Eight stages will be completed with service after every two at Darrara Agricultural College.
The first car is due back into Parc Ferme on Saturday evening at 6.30pm. Sunday will see the first car leave Parc Ferme at 11am and head into service before tackling the fabulous Ardfield stage which is on the beautiful Wild Atlantic Way route.
Three stages in total are tackled before service, and those stages are repeated in the late afternoon before the first car arrives at the finish ramp at approximately 4.15pm.
The Stages for the weekend are as follows;
Stage 1 & 3 Ring
Stage 2 & 4 Clogagh
Stage 5 & 7 Newcestown
Stage 6 & 8 Ballinascarthy
Stage 9 & 12 Ardfield
Stage 10 & 13 Sams Cross
Stage 11 & 14 Rossmore
You can keep up to date with live results on http://results.westcorkrally.com over the weekend
while there will also be updates on Twitter (@westcorkrally) & Facebook (West Cork Rally).
Brian & Liz Patterson will be providing their usual excellent “Rallynews” bulletin service and Art McCarrick will also provide updates on Twitter (@ditchslapblog).