ITRC: Rally of the Lakes preview

McRAE TO DRIVE COURSE CAR ON 2005 RALLY OF THE LAKES Former World Rally Champion, Colin McRae, is to drive a Course Car on the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2005, which will take place over the May Bank Holiday Weekend. The Scot,...

McRAE TO DRIVE COURSE CAR ON 2005 RALLY OF THE LAKES

Former World Rally Champion, Colin McRae, is to drive a Course Car on the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2005, which will take place over the May Bank Holiday Weekend. The Scot, who claimed the World title in 1995, will use his own Mark 2 Ford Escort RS for the task, and his presence is certain to attract huge crowds to the Killarney-based event. His co-driver in the Escort will be Roger Herron. The news of McRae's role in the event was announced by the Clerk of the Course, Gary McCormick, at the Rally Launch held this evening at the Brehon Hotel, Killarney.

The Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2005 has as its top three seeds the drivers who have won the past three events. 2002 winner, Andrew Nesbitt, will be seeded at No.1, and he will be followed over the Start Ramp by last year's victor, Derek McGarrity and 2003 winner, Eugene Donnelly. Austin McHale, seeded at No.4, has also won the rally on three previous occasions. These four drivers have also amassed ten Irish Tarmac Rally Championship titles between them.

The top ten seeds also includes Peadar Hurson, Eamonn Boland, Tim McNulty, Gareth McHale, JJ Fleming and Denis Cronin, the highest seeded Killarney & District Motor Club member, who won the recent West Cork Rally.

Other local drivers included amongst the entry include Johnny O'Sullivan and Tom Randles, while Alan Ring and Kevin O'Donoghue will be in contention for honours in the Group N Production category - Ring was the Group N winner in 2004. The strong Group N line-up also includes Seamus Leonard, Colm Murphy, Willie Fannin, Aaron McHale, Roy White, Garry Jennings, James O'Sullivan, James Foley and Gabriel Martin.

The Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2005 will be the third round of the Pirelli Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, and the second round of both the West Euro Cup and the 023 Tiles Southern Four Rally Championship. Significantly, it is the first Irish rally to feature over one hundred homologated cars on its entry list, including over thirty versions of the Subaru Impreza alone.

In the National Rally of the Lakes (for crews competing in non-homologated cars), a battle royale is in store between drivers such as Phil Collins (Ford Escort RS); Frank O'Mahony (MG Metro 6R4); John Dalton (Darrian T90 GTR); Dessie Keenan (Ford Escort RS); Brendan Brosnan (Peugeot 205RWD); Dave Slattery (Ford Escort RS); Mike Moloney (Ford Escort RS) and Denis Biggerstaff, who has entered his Subaru Impreza WRC in the Modified classes.

The Junior Rally of the Lakes, for drivers under the age of 27 years, was inaugurated last year, and the 2005 event has attracted over fifty entries. Unfortunately, only twenty Juniors can be permitted to actually start the rally, and the selection will be decided by ballot. They will complete the final four stages on Sunday afternoon.

Killarney & District Motor Club is delighted to announce that Failte Ireland will sponsor the television coverage of the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2005. Highlights of the Rally of the Lakes will be included on the popular RPM Motorsport programme, broadcast on UTV. This footage will also be broadcast on RTE 2, Sky Sports and as part of the Rally Action series on a selection of foreign channels: AB Moteurs (France); TVE Teledeportes (Spain); RAI Sport (Italy); Kanaal 2 (Belgium); RTL5 (The Netherlands); Viasat Sport (Scandinavia); Start TV (Turkey); BalkanTV (Bulgaria) and Dubai Sports Channel (United Arab Emirates).

The Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes kicks off on Friday, April 29th with a Super Special stage at Killarney Racecourse between 5.30pm and 9pm. This proved very popular with families and die-hard rally fans alike last year, and the fact that competing cars will run against the clock on this occasion will add an extra dimension to the 2005 Super Special.

Visitors to the Super Special can enter a competition to win a place in the co-driver's seat of one of the spectacular Group B cars, which will again be demonstrated at Killarney Racecourse and throughout the 2005 Rally of the Lakes. Among the Group Bs which will be seen in action over the weekend is the very first Audi Quattro rally car, which has been completely restored to its original specification by its current owner, John Hanlon.

Part of the proceeds from the Super Special will go to the Kerry Mountain Rescue Service.

On Saturday, April 30th, the rally will get underway in earnest, when the No. 1 seeds, Andrew Nesbitt and James O'Brien, cross the Start Ramp at the Gleneagle Hotel at 8.47am. As is traditional, the famous Molls Gap stage will open the rally, and this test will be used four times in all over the weekend. The Gortnagane stage follows Molls Gap on Saturday morning, after which there will be a Service at the Green Glens Arena in Millstreet.

The next stage in the Cullen area is the first brand new stage to be introduced to the Rally of the Lakes in many years. The fourth stage of the loop is Quarry Cross, located near Gneevguilla village. A Service on the Killarney-Cork road follows, before the entire loop is repeated to complete the Saturday route.

Molls Gap again greets the crews on the morning of Sunday, May 1st, with the overnight leaders due to start the stage at 10.03am. The day's action follows the familiar loop of the Beallaghbeama, Caragh Lake and Shanera stages, with Services on the Killorglin to Glenbeigh Road after Beallaghbeama, and the Killarney to Cork Road after Shanera. Again, the loop is repeated, bringing to sixteen the total number of stages comprising the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2005.

The winning crew is due to arrive back at Rally headquarters, the Gleneagle Hotel, at 5.43pm that evening.

-itrc-

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Series Other rally
Drivers Colin McRae , Roger Herron , Austin McHale , Gareth McHale , Alan Ring