UK: National Forest Rally round 3 preview

The Circuit of Wicklow based in Glendalough Co. Wicklow Sunday April 18th is the 3rd Round of the 2004 "McCauley Trailers" National Forest Rally Championship. Hosted by the MEC (Motor Enthusiasts' Club) the event will run 8 stages approx 45 miles...

The Circuit of Wicklow based in Glendalough Co. Wicklow Sunday April 18th is the 3rd Round of the 2004 "McCauley Trailers" National Forest Rally Championship. Hosted by the MEC (Motor Enthusiasts' Club) the event will run 8 stages approx 45 miles over a loop of 4 locations repeated with centralised service in the grounds of Avondale House, Rathdrum after stage 2, 4 and 6. The event is also the 3rd Round of the Triton Showers South East Stages Championship. Top seed Kevin Lynch/ Francis Regan (Impreza WRC) leave the start at 10 o'clock Sunday Morning from Laragh Community Hall before the opening stage at Glenmalure. With Brian Murphy/ Joe Downey (Impreza 555) at 2 the event promises to be a very close contest between Lynch and Murphy as they tie on 38 points at the top of the championship leader-board.

Kevin Lynch/ Francis Regan are certainly match fit and come Wicklow following their Easter Stages victory in Enniskillen last Saturday. Event favourite must be Brian Murphy, who won his first rally (as a driver) here in Wicklow '99 in difficult conditions on a foggy day followed by night stages, driving a Gp N Evo 4 up against a lot of Gp A machinery, this surely testament to skill at any side of the car. At 3, Kevin O'Kane/ Mark Hanna (Impreza WRC) should be quick out of the box on Sunday morning as Kevin is doing his home event, Fivemiletown on Saturday. Pat Norris/ Declan Timulty (Imprea 555) are at 4, Norris had some fastest times in Carrick but retired on the first stage in Mitchelstown with transmission failure. Limerick crew James Murphy/ Con Mulcahy (Escort Cos) are at 5, Murphy will push hard but needs to secure points, having used his drop score on round 1.

At 6 John Shanahan/ Liam McLaughlin (Impreza) are top Gp N seed, having won Gp N and finished 4th overall last. John was forced to hire an Evo 6 for round 2 as his Subaru engine didn't arrive in time but he hopes to have his own car sorted for Sunday. Number 7 Tyrone's Stephen Moore/ Tony McHugh (N8 Impreza) will resume the battle with John Shanahan for Gp N spoils, Moore came within 3 secs of beating his rival on round 2 after setting a blistering pace on the final stage, 16 secs up on Shanahan. Late entry Denis Biggerstaff/ Derek Brannigan (Metro 6R4) enjoyed their run in Tipperary and are back for more, although not showing on the list Biggerstaff will be reseeded inside the top ten. A host of locals in high-powered 16v mk2 Escorts round off the top ten. These drivers will be locked in a battle for local pride and should be worth watching as they rev sideways through the forests. 8; Paul Staunton/ Bruce Burges, 9; Brian Lawlor/ Peter Kavanagh and 10; John Reid/ Brendan Greene.

Enniskerry man Noel Driver is at 11, launching his newly built 16v Escort mk2 on home ground. Noel, co driven by Limerick's Joe Shinnors clinched a class win here in '03. Patrick Elliott/ Sean Moriarty (12) are joint Gp N leaders with Bob Scanlon (16) both driving Evo 6's and hold 3rd overall in the championship. At 19 Paul Mulcahy/ Karl Baumann hold 5th overall and best 2WD in their rapid 1600 16v Starlet. With very impressive results to date they may even rattle the locals. More 4WD's include 14; Trevor Harding/ Charles Boland (Legacy), 15; Colin Walsh (Impreza) 17; James Cribbin/ Sean Walsh (Evo 6) and 18; Connie Smith/ Breen McNamee (Sierra Cos.)

After Glenmalure (ss1) the event heads to Drumgoff (ss2), which was last run in '02, then service in Avondale house. Next up is Ballydowling Hill (ss3) followed by the famous "Glenealy" (ss4) with service again in Avondale House. Back to Glenmalure and Drumgoff before a final service in Avondale House and the sting in the tail a final run through Ballydowling Hill and Glenealy. The first competing cars are due back in Parc Ferme at Laragh Community Hall at 5:30 pm Sunday evening followed by results/ prizegiving at The Glendalough Hotel at 7 pm.

-nfr-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers James Murphy , Francis Regan , Brian Murphy