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ITRC: Cork: The penultimate round preview

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ITRC: Cork: The penultimate round preview
Oct 2, 2002, 1:16 AM

The Murphy Construction Cork "20" International Rally, the penultimate round of the Toshiba Computers Irish Tarmac Championship swings into action on Saturday morning (October 5th.) with top seed and championship leader, Andrew Nesbitt ready to ...

The Murphy Construction Cork "20" International Rally, the penultimate round of the Toshiba Computers Irish Tarmac Championship swings into action on Saturday morning (October 5th.) with top seed and championship leader, Andrew Nesbitt ready to clinch the title. Organised by the Munster Motor Cycle and Car Club, the "20"as its affectionately known, has a capacity and cracking entry that will be tested over the 14 special stages of the two day event. Nesbitt needs just a solitary point to claim his second title in three years as he seeks another outright win in a round of the Tarmac series. The Armagh driver has dominated the series with victories on the Circuit of Ireland, Rally of the Lakes, Jim Clark and Ulster Rally along with second in the Manx (first in championship terms).

Only Eamonn Boland can prevent Nesbitt from gaining his second tarmac crown, however, he must win both the Cork "20" and West 2002 rallies to achieve this virtually impossible goal, especially when one considers Nesbitt's form.

Nesbitt will be the first car away from the County Hall early on Saturday morning where he will be followed by Boland and five times Irish Tarmac Champion, Austin MacHale. MacHale has won the Cork "20" on four separate occasions, but it's been twelve years since his last success. The Rathcoole driver will be hoping that his Toyota Corolla WRC will be in top shape for his latest encounter. Peadar Hurson (Toyota Celica) continues to be a revelation, although the Warrenpoint driver has made several early exits from a number of the championship rounds. Michael Barrable, a winner of the Tipperary Stonethrowers and Galway Summer rallies, was an early retirement in the recent Clare Rally with a blown turbo. He was sixth in the Rally Masters in Punchestown and will be expected to be within the top five in the Cork "20".Welshman, Mel Evans is the first of the overseas contingent, Evans who won the West Cork Rally earlier this year, reverts to his Escort WRC rather than his most recent Subaru.

Local man, Liam McCarthy, with the pace notes, occupies the number seven berth. McCarthy is still trying to attain a level of consistency from his car. The top ten also features Maurice Gass (Subaru WRC), Ollie O'Donovan (Hyundai Accent WRC) and Steve Fleck (Subaru WRC). O'Donovan debuted the Hyundai in Clare juts two weeks ago and finished fifth, he continues his acclimatization in Cork. Tim NcNulty will drive a Derek McGarrity prepared Subaru WRC and is duly seeded at eleven ahead of outgoing Southern 4 champion, Johnny O'Sullivan (Escort WRC). Although seeded, Hugh Dunne is a non-starter.

Others in the top twenty are Kevin Barrett and Barry Coleman in Subaru's. They sandwich the Group N contingent of Trevor Cathers (Mitsubishi), Seamus Leonard (Subaru), Roy White and Bob Fowden in Mitsubishis. Cathers has a strong lead in the showroom category with just four points separating White and Leonard. Gerry McVeigh, Aaron McHale, Nigel Hicklin, Dick Curran and local Cork driver, John O'Leary add further interest in the same category. MacHale is the new Group N national champion.

The Murphy Construction Cork "20" International Rally is a counting round of: The Toshiba Computers Irish Tarmac Championships.
The Ford Ka Championship.
The 023 Tiles Southern 4 Championship.
The Ford Focus Championship

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Series Other rally
Drivers Jim Clark , Austin MacHale , Steve Fleck , Ollie O'Donovan