NFRC: 2005 season preview

Welcome to the 2005 "McCauley Trailers National Forest Rally Championship". We are delighted to have "McCauley Trailers" of Toombridge, Co. Antrim on board again this season as our title sponsor. Company Director, Owen Kelly was very pleased...

Welcome to the 2005 "McCauley Trailers National Forest Rally Championship". We are delighted to have "McCauley Trailers" of Toombridge, Co. Antrim on board again this season as our title sponsor. Company Director, Owen Kelly was very pleased with the exposure gained last year and had no hesitation in announcing "McCauley Trailers" would renew their sponsorship for 2005. McCauley's have designed a new company logo especially for the championship decals, which will be carried on all competing cars on every round.

The championship is to further expand this season with the introduction of an additional round for the second year in succession. Birr Motor Club are making a return to the series and will host their event on the 14th of August. The championship will consist of 8 rounds with best 7 scores to count and any competitor who starts all rounds will be awarded 5 bonus points. Willie Walsh and Elaine Higgins continue as Chairman and Registrar respectively. Kathlyn Hegarty is taking over from John Quill as Secretary and we wish her well in this office, also we would like to thank John Quill for his contribution over the past few years.

The Committee have introduced many new features for this season. Last year we introduced the "Best 2WD" award, which was a major success and for '05 we have decided to award 1st, 2nd and 3rd Best 2WD. The Ka class was not very well supported last season, so it has been dropped this year in exchange for an innovative New Junior class. The guidelines for the junior class are very simple: 1st time licence holders issued in '04/'05 (national grade only), Limited to 1400cc (any model). No age limit. The juniors will compete on every stage on every round, i.e. they will be doing the full event on all 8 rounds, paying a reduced entry of 110 euro less than the main field.

Another innovative development this season is the introduction of the Safety DVD in conjunction with the Safety Notes. This is a major step forward for the Championship as; it will streamline "The McCauley Trailers National Forest Rally Championship" with its UK counterparts, (the ANCRO and BTRDA championships). Each competitor will now have the opportunity to purchase a Safety DVD of the stages along with their Safety Notes on the Saturday evening of each round. The benefits of the DVD are: Competitors will be able to study the stages and get a picture of the conditions e.g. where there has been recent logging, bad mud, surface changes etc allowing them to change/ adapt their notes to their own personal liking and exercise more or less caution as the case may be. This is very positive step for the championship and has been endorsed by Motorsport Ireland, making the sport safer and more competitive without incurring any major expense for competitors. It is hoped this step will attract/ encourage welcome new entries.

The opening round "The Willie Loughman Memorial Forest Rally" based in Carrick on Suir on Sunday March 6th is sure to be a thrilling curtain raiser. Clerk of the Course; Terence Kearney has devised an exciting new format incorporating a 16 mile stage in the vast Gurteen forest complex. The event will consist of 8 stages (4 done twice) approx 60 stage miles in the Gurteen, Anner and Slievenamon forests including a new short stage close to Carrick.

Carrick on Suir report a lot of interest to date, Kevin O'Kane (Impreza WRC), Dermot Kelly (Escort WRC), Pat Norris (Impreza 555), James Murphy (Escort WRC) and Patrick Elliott (Evo 8) are among the early entries. John McCarthy (Corolla WRC), Gareth McHale (Corolla WRC), Glenn Allen (Escort WRC), Adrian McElvaney (Impreza 555), Stephen Moore (N10 Impreza), Johny McKenna (Evo) and Pete Willoughby (Evo 7) are some more front-runners planning a full championship assault. Many of last season's regulars have up graded their machines; James Cribben has moved up to an Evo 8, Andy Mackeral Evo 4 and Pete McCullough Evo 6. The 2WD category will be fought tooth and nail as always with a foray high- powered Escorts in the hands of Brian Lawlor, Paul Staunton, John Reid, Noel Driver, Jason Roche, James Coleman and many more.

Defending class champions, Paul Mulcahy, Andrew Kearney, Mick Nevin, Sean Benskin and Cathal Daly will be out to defend their titles but will face stiff opposition from their rivals. Once again we depend on continued support from the media and all the websites that have supported the championship in the past season to maintain the prominent profile that "The McCauley Trailers National Forest Rally Championship" now holds. The onus is on the competitors' to support all the various rounds and make the championship grow from strength to strength.

Counting Rounds:

1. Carrick on Suir March 6th, Carrick on Suir.

2. Tipperary March 27th, Mitchelstown.

3. Wicklow April 17th, Glendalough.

4. Munster May 15th, Midleton.

5. Monaghan July 3rd, Three mile House, nr Monaghan Town.

6. Cork July 23rd & 24th, Mallow.

7. Birr August 14th, Roscrea.

8. Killarney September 4th, Castleisland.

* Safety Notes & Safety DVD available to purchase on the Saturday evening of each round.

* 8 rounds, best 7 scores to count, 5 bonus points for starting all events.

* No Recce, Hassle Free Rallying, very friendly sporting atmosphere.

* Best Newcomer Award and 1st, 2nd & 3rd Best 2WD Awards.

* New Junior Class for 2005 with Reduced entry fees (110 euro less than main field) Guidelines: 1st time licence holders issued in '04/'05 (national grade only), Limited to 1400cc (any model). No age limit.

-gs-

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