The third round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, the Carlow based Seven Oaks Hotel Rally takes place this Sunday. It features a cracking entry and with the exception of top seed Wesley Patterson (Ford Escort), who won last year’s rally,
the top ten is a lock-out of World Rally Cars.
Just twelve months ago Lisburn driver Patterson took a dramatic final stage win edging out Welsh driver Steve Wood (Subaru WRC) by a mere one tenth of a second.
Opposition this time around is without doubt the best of the Triton season to date with former champion Donegal’s Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC) hoping to continue the form that gave him a fine victory in the last round in Kerry.
Opening round winner Garry Jennings is seeded at number three in his Subaru WRC, however, he is in a race against the clock to have his car ready in time after he crashed out of the lead in last week’s Rally of the Lakes in Killarney. The Fermanagh driver also netted maximum points from the Power Stage in Mayo and on current form will be the barometer of pace.
Meanwhile, Clonmel’s Roy White, also in a Ford Fiesta WRC, is the current leader of the eight round series courtesy of a fourth place finish in Mayo and second in Kerry.
“Yes, I’m delighted to be leading the Triton Showers series but it is early days yet. I’m hoping to increase my pace so as to be closer to the likes of Declan Boyle and of course Garry Jennings. I expect that Peadar (Hurson) will also be a big threat and Niall Maguire as well.”
Warrenpoint’s Peadar Hurson (Subaru WRC) won the series in 1992 and is one of the favourites to figure well in Carlow. On the last round in Kerry he was not at his usual pace as his Subaru struggled with set-up issues. Former triple champion Monaghan’s Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) is showing some good form as he chases down that elusive fourth national crown.
The top ten also includes Cork driver Daragh O’Riordan in his Ford Fiesta WRC, he crashed on the final stage in Kerry and will be aiming to get back to form in Carlow where Welsh aces Melvyn Evans and Steve Wood, both in Subaru WRC’s and series sponsor Kevin Barrett (Subaru WRC) complete the impressive top ten.
Evans is of course a former champion – in 2010 he became the first overseas driver to win the national series.
Meanwhile, the event will feature the WRC debuts of two drivers – Longford’s Tommy Doyle and Donegal’s Manus Kelly. Doyle has driven an array of rally cars while Kelly is renowned for campaigning Mk. 2 Escorts, it certainly be interesting to see how both will fare on the nine-stage rally.
Elsewhere, there are also places for overseas drivers Simon Chapman (Proton) and Sebastian Ling (Mitsubishi), the latter is amongst the Group N entry that also includes Monaghan’s Shane Maguire (Mitsubishi Evo IX), Tyrone’s Aidan Wray (Mitsubishi Evo X), Maynooth’s Paul Barrett (Subaru), Donegal’s Trevor Bustard (Mitsubishi Evo IX) and Dubliner Neil Tohill (Mitsubishi IX).
In the last round in Kerry, Barrett notched up his first category win in a National event. The top twenty is rounded off by Cavan’s Stephen McCann in the ex-Denis Cronin Subaru WRC.
The rally also features the popular Mk. 2 Challenge with some of the best rear wheel drive exponents journeying to Carlow. Jonathan Pringle, Gary McPhillips, Ryan Loughran, Frank Kelly, Brian Brogan, Damian Toner, Ed O’Callaghan, Enda O’Brien and Scotland’s David Bogie. From a local perspective David Condell and Sam Smyth are the main protagonists, last year they finished fifth and tenth respectively.
In the Junior category, Meath’s Gary McNamee (Honda Civic) is the top seed, the entry features series leader Donegal’s Michael Boyle along with his current closest rivals Tipperary’s Shane Norris and Kerry’s Mark Murphy, all in Honda Civics.
Organising Club: Carlow Car Club.
Clerk of the Course: Ken Treacy.
Rally Headquarters: Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow. Tel: 059 91 31308
First Car Away: 9.00.
Service: Carlow Institue of Technology, Carlow.
Finish Ramp: Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow. 17.15
Top 10 Starters:
1. Wesley Patterson/Johnny Baird (Ford Escort)
2. Declan Boyle/Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC)
3. Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Subaru WRC)
4. Roy White/James O’Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC)
5. Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Subaru WRC)
6. Niall Maguire/Enda Sherry (Subaru WRC )
7. Daragh O’Riordan/Andy Hayes (Ford Fiesta WRC)
8. Melvyn Evans/Mark Glennerster (Subaru WRC)
9. Steve Wood/Keith Moriarty (Subaru WRC)
10. Kevin Barrett/Sean Mullally (Subaru WRC)
Triton Showers National Rally Championship
(Provisional Standings after Round 2): 1. R. White 37 pts;
2. P. Hurson 36 pts;
3. N. Maguire 30 pts;
4. G. Jennings 23pts;
=5. F. Kelly & D. Boyle 22 pts;
7. S. Maguire 15pts;
=8. G. Kiernan & R. Loughran 13pts;
=10. E’O’Callaghan, K. Barrett & P. Barrett.
2016 Triton Showers National Rally Championship Diary Dates:
1. Mayo Rally (March 6th.)
Winners: G. Jennings/R. Kennedy (Subaru WRC)
2. Circuit of Kerry (April 3rd.) Winners: D. Boyle/B. Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC)
3. Carlow Rally May 8th.
4. Cavan Rally May 29th.
5. ALMC Rally July 3rd.
6. Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally August 7th.
7. Clare Rally September 18th.
8. Donegal Harvest Rally October 8th.