Connor McCloskey Rally Ireland preview

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McCLOSKEY TAKES TO THE WORLD STAGE Fresh from testing their Mitsubishi Evo 8 in Norway, 2005 Fisher Foundation award winner Connor McCloskey and regular co-driver Crawford Henderson will compete on next weekend's Sligo-based Rally ...

McCLOSKEY TAKES TO THE WORLD STAGE

Fresh from testing their Mitsubishi Evo 8 in Norway, 2005 Fisher Foundation award winner Connor McCloskey and regular co-driver Crawford Henderson will compete on next weekend's Sligo-based Rally Ireland,

The test came immediately after completing an event at Kirkistown in a borrowed car, the youngster having packed his own off to John Haugland's Rally School days earlier. "It was a hectic week," said Connor, "we finished the event in Ireland and set off for Norway the next day. It may seem a bit of an odd place to go before a tarmac rally but the object of the exercise was to improve my all round ability. I think it will make me quicker on any surface, but it has certainly taught me much more about the way the car behaves."

The team had considered unveiling a new Evo 9 for the Irish wannabe WRC event, but as their focus is on the Irish and British Rally Championships, the new car will remain under wraps until the Circuit of Ireland at the earliest. "We're really looking forward to competing against some World Championship regulars," grinned Connor, "although I'm realistic in my expectations in the Evo 8. The likes of Chris Atkinson will probably be in a league of his own but at least it will give us something to gauge ourselves against."

The event isn't exactly on the team's doorstep but the stages will have a familiar feel and the pair is under no pressure. Travelling to the rally's base in Sligo from Kilrea in Northern Ireland will take about two hours, so they will be fresh for the ceremonial start from outside Sligo Town Hall at 19.00 on Friday.

268 miles of asphalt await the crews, with six stages on Saturday and five on Sunday. All the stages are centred on Enniskillen Airport with an overnight halt based in Sligo. The event's aspirations for inclusion in the 2007 World Rally Championship mean that there will be delegates from the World governing body, the FIA on hand, meaning everyone will be trying to impress, on and off the stages.

Connor and the team would like to thank Egger (wood based panels), The Fisher Foundation, KBB Doors, Euro Components, Pirelli and Shell Racing Fuels for their support in 2006

-eurocomponents.co.uk

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Series RALLY