ITRC: Rally of the Lakes preview

Nesbitt heads Rally of the Lakes line-up. The reigning Irish Tarmac Rally Champions, Andrew Nesbitt and James O'Brien, are the top seeds for the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2003, which will take place on the May Bank Holiday ...

Nesbitt heads Rally of the Lakes line-up.

The reigning Irish Tarmac Rally Champions, Andrew Nesbitt and James O'Brien, are the top seeds for the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2003, which will take place on the May Bank Holiday Weekend. The pairing took victory last year in Killarney, and thus have the honour of carrying the No.1 plates for the 2003 event. Among their strongest challengers will be Derek McGarrity and Chris Patterson, who were victorious on the Circuit of Ireland over Easter and are aiming to deprive Nesbitt and O'Brien of back-to-back Rally of the Lakes titles. Up to 70,000 people are expected to visit the south west for Killarney & District Motor Club's flagship event, resulting in a cash injection of over €20 million for the local economy.

Aside from the huge influx of spectators and others involved in the rally, the region will also benefit from extensive television coverage throughout Ireland, Great Britain and Europe, as highlights from the event are broadcast on various channels over the coming weeks.

While Nesbitt and McGarrity are certain to be fighting for the lead of the rally, others too will have their say. Austin McHale won the recent Circuit of Kerry Rally on his debut in a Subaru Impreza World Rally Car (having previously ran a Toyota Corolla WRC), and is sure to figure strongly, as are Eamonn Boland and Peadar Hurson, who will also have versions of the Impreza WRC at their disposal. Indeed, nine of the top ten seeds are Subaru-equipped.

Donie O'Sullivan and Paul Nagle are the top local seeds, starting at No.7 in a 99 Impreza WRC. They demonstrated their undoubted pace by leading the Circuit of Kerry, before an accident forced them into retirement, and they will be eager to record a good finish on home ground. Further augmenting the local challenge will be Johnny O'Sullivan and Jakes Kelly, who are also seeded amongst the top fifteen crews.

In addition to its status as a round of the Toshiba Tarmac Championship, the 2003 Rally of the Lakes is also part of the International Netherlands Rally Championship and the West Euro Cup. While the European drivers are not expected to challenge for overall victory this year, they will be involved in various contests down through the different classes.

Chris Vlaar is the highest seeded of the Dutch Championship regulars in his Group N Mitsubishi Lancer. He will face strong home opposition in the 'showroom' category from drivers such as Roy White, Seamus Leonard and Aaron McHale.

The entry for the concurrent National Rally of the Lakes for Modified cars is headed by Denis Cronin, who is seeded at No.24 in his BMW M3. He will be competing against John Moynihan, Wesley Patterson, Kieran O'Neill and other pilots of spectacular rear-wheel drive cars.

The Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2003 gets underway at 7.45am on Saturday, May 3rd, when Andrew Nesbitt will lead the field of 150 crews away from the Start Ramp at the Gleneagle Hotel. Two spectacular days of rallying will see competitors tackle nineteen special stages to decide the outcome of Killarney's annual sporting highlight.

All the latest news regarding the event can be accessed on the internet at www.rallyofthelakes.com.

<pre> Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2003 Top Seeds 1 Andrew Nesbitt James O'Brien Subaru Impreza WRC 2 Austin McHale Brian Murphy Subaru Impreza WRC S7 3 Derek McGarrity Dermot O'Gorman Subaru Impreza WRC S8 4 Eamonn Boland Damien Morrissey Subaru Impreza WRC S8 5 Eugene Donnelly Paul Kiely Subaru Impreza WRC98 6 Peadar Hurson Ian Porter Subaru Impreza WRC P2000 7 Donie O'Sullivan Paul Nagle Subaru Impreza WRC99 8 Maurice Gass Geoffrey Orr Subaru Impreza WRC S7 9 JJ Fleming Robbie Ward Subaru Impreza WRC P2000 10 Liam McCarthy Kieran Murphy Toyota Corolla WRC 11 Patrick Elliott Martin Cahill Subaru Impreza WRC99 12 Glyn Jones Paul Goodman Subaru Impreza WRC99 13 Tim McNulty Anthony Nestor Subaru Impreza WRC S7 14 Barry Coleman Greg McCarthy Subaru Impreza WRC99 15 Johnny O'Sullivan Jakes Kelly Ford Escort WRC 16 Tom Holton Ron Guha Toyota Celica GT-Four ST185 17 Paddy White Frank Sweeney Subaru Impreza WRC P2000 18 Jer O'Donovan Stephen O'Donovan Ford Escort RS Cosworth 19 Roy White Greg Shinnors Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 GpN 20 Seamus Leonard TBA Subaru Impreza STi GpN

TIMETABLE

Saturday, May 3rd Start Ramp Gleneagle Hotel 07:47 SS1 Molls Gap 08:00 SS2 Killmackillogue 08:51 SS3 Healy Pass 09:12 SS4 Cods Head 10:23 SS5 Ardgroom 10:48 SS6 Healy Pass 11:22 SS7 Lough Allua 13:23 SS8 Fuhiry 13:48 SS9 Lough Allua 15:53 SS10 Fuhiry 16:18 SS11 Lough Guitane 17:06 Parc Ferme 17:22

Sunday, May 4th SS12 Molls Gap 10:03 SS13 Beallaghbeama 10:56 SS14 Caragh Lake 11:48 SS15 Shanera 12:45 SS16 Molls Gap 14:48 SS17 Beallaghbeama 15:41 SS18 Caragh Lake 16:31 SS19 Shanera 17:10 Finish Ramp Gleneagle Hotel 17:48

-www.rallyofthelakes.com

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Chris Patterson , Austin McHale , Brian Murphy , Paul Nagle , Glyn Jones