Mayo: Rally event preview

Breaffy House Hotel Mayo Stages Rally Opens Dunlop National Championship Event Preview The Breaffy House Hotel Mayo Stages Rally wakens the Dunlop National Stages Championship out of its year long hibernation on Sunday March 10th next. The ...

Breaffy House Hotel Mayo Stages Rally Opens Dunlop National Championship
Event Preview

The Breaffy House Hotel Mayo Stages Rally wakens the Dunlop National Stages Championship out of its year long hibernation on Sunday March 10th next. The self-imposed sabbatical over the last twelve months, due to the foot and mouth disease, has left everyone involved in motorsport eager to begin the new seasons campaign on a high note.

In opening the 2002 Dunlop National Stage Rally Championship, the Breaffy House Hotel Mayo Stages Rally has attracted a bumper entry of top class contenders from all over Ireland together with a number of big names from overseas.

Organised and promoted by Mayo & District Motorsport Club, the event, is also the first Round of the Four Seasons Border Series.

Newly installed Clerk of the Course, Michael Noone and his team have spent hours and hours over the past number of months busily preparing for the event and to ensure that everything runs smoothly over the course of the weekend. Michael, from Ballina, is very grateful to all those who have assisted him with the preparation. "Everyone involved has been a tremendous help and collectively we are looking forward to a successful day. Apart from the organisation team, we depend on the goodwill of the residents along the rally route and we appreciate their co-operation throughout," said Michael.

New Headquarters

"For the 2002 event we move to a new location– Castlebar– with new rally headquarters at the Breaffy House Hotel. The renowned establishment, recently acquired by the Lynch Group is a fine facility and an excellent venue for our event," said Michael Noone, Clerk of the Course.

One Million Euro Boost

"Not only is the Mayo Stages Rally a huge sporting occasion, it contributes significantly to the local economy. Over the course of the weekend, it is estimated that the region will benefit to the tune of one million Euro," said Tom Tuffy, Chairman, Mayo & District Motorsport Club. "As in previous years, we welcome competitors, service crews, supporters and spectators to the area and hope they all enjoy the occasion," he added.

Official Start

The rally gets underway at 9.30a.m. from Breaffy House Hotel, Castlebar where newly honoured Mayoman of the Year, Johnny Mee, Mayo County Council will perform the official flag waving start. Over 80 stage miles split into 12 Special Stages held around the scenic Nephin Mountains await the 131 competing cars with three service intervals in between.

Route

Special Stages1, 5 and 9 at Lough Feeagh (near Newport) sponsored by Fleet Inn, Killybegs, are the longest of the day, while Special Stages 2, 6 and 10 at Derryhillagh, sponsored by Judge’s Honda Car Sales, begins the loop around Nephin Mountains. The Kelly’s Statoil Service Station, Ballina sponsored Stages 3, 7 and 11 at Tonacrock starts at Lahardane and runs parallel to the famous fishing lake, Lough Conn. The final piece of the rally route jig-saw is the Togher Tyres, Castlebar backed Stages 4, 8 and 12 at Cloghbrack, before entering the Centralised Service Area at Glenhest.

Traffic delays are expected in this area and motorists are advised to plan their journey well in advance. After tackling the North Mayo highways and byways, the cavalcade returns to rally headquarters at Breaffy House Hotel where the Gala Prizegiving Dinner will be held later that evening.

Top Field

Top seed, Paul Harris, is pencilled in as event favourite but the Subaru Impreza driver will do well to keep the chasing pack at a distance. Keeping Harris honest will be Niall Maguire and Eamon Boland, both driving WRC versions of the previous model Subaru Impreza. Monaghan based haulage operator, Maguire, has mastered the ex-Andrew Nesbitt 2000 Tarmac Championship winning car while Wexford garage owner, Boland, is a former winner of the Mayo Stages and is a regular competitor on both tarmac and gravel events. Meathman, Tim McNulty, in at No. 4 is another serious contender in his Subaru Impreza while Dubliner Michael Barrable wears No. 5, but hasn’t decided on what car just yet. Making a welcome return from the U.K. is James Harrison who tries out his Subaru Impreza WRC on the West of Ireland tarmac.

Patrick Elliott is likely to continue his progress to becoming one of the country’s top drivers as the Cavan man switches from a Group N Mitsubishi to Class 8 Subaru. Making the trip from Cork in a Toyota Celica is Donal O’Donovan (seeded No. 8) while former Border Series Champion David Armstrong campaigns yet again in his Escort Cosworth.

Rounding off the Top 10 is local competitor Rory O’Connor from Ballyhaunis who is keen to turn on the speed in the ex-Frank Meagher Ford Escort WRC in front of his home crowd.

All in all, there’s a feast of top class action in store. Fans of the World Rally Championship winning Subaru Impreza will be pleased to see no less than six of the Japanese marque among the Top 10 starters, with any one capable of winning the first major trophy of the season.

Check out the Club’s website for up to date information on events and activities on www.mayo-motorsport-club.com

Safety

To ensure a safe and successful running of the event, Mayo & District Motorsport Club will seek the assistance of almost 200 marshals during the rally weekend. "As we are having extra stages this year, we require a larger number of marshals than heretofore," said Tom Tuffy, Club Chairman and Chief Marshal. "From Saturday to Monday 9-11th March, the duties to be undertaken will include stage set-up, spectator control and stages clean-up," added Tom. "One of the golden rules at motorsport events is that spectators show respect for the qualified marshals and obey their requests at all times. Otherwise, non-compliance to their requests can mean instant cancellation of that stage, thereby preventing many others from enjoying the occasion." concluded Tom.

Rally Programme

Full details on stage locations, starting times and competitor entry list will be included in the official colour programme which will be available in local Newsagents, Service Stations, Breaffy House Hotel and Togher Tyres from Friday evening 8th March.

Scrutiny

Prior to Sunday’s real action, spectators will have an opportunity to view the rally cars‘ in the flesh’ at Togher Tyres, Castlebar where mechanical scrutiny will take place on Saturday 9th March between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Parc Ferme is located at the Volex Car Park (opposite Togher Tyres on the Breaffy Road).

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers James Harrison