ITRC: Ireland's Rally of the Lakes route announced

Preliminary details of the planned route for the 2003 Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes have been announced by the event organisers, Killarney & District Motor Club. This year's event will see competing crews tackle many of the familiar...

Preliminary details of the planned route for the 2003 Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes have been announced by the event organisers, Killarney & District Motor Club. This year's event will see competing crews tackle many of the familiar classic stages, but the format of the route will be quite different to previous rallies. Nineteen stages, totaling just under 200 competitive miles, await an eager field of up to 150 drivers and navigators on the May Bank Holiday Weekend.

On Friday, May 1st, crews may tackle the optional test stage, which will be located off the main Cork to Killarney road, near the village of Clonkeen. The rally proper gets underway at 0745 on Saturday, May 2nd, when the first car leaves the Start Ramp, which will be located at the Gleneagle Hotel (Rally Headquarters). As has become a tradition, the Molls Gap stage will open the rally, and this is followed by two further classic stages, Killmackillogue and The Healy Pass, before the crews reach a service halt in Castletownbere. A loop of the two famous Beara Peninsula stages, Cods Head and Ardgroom, precede another run over The Healy Pass, with the second service halt of the day then taking place in Glengarriffe.

From there, the action moves east, with the Lough Allua and Fuhiry stages next to be tackled. A further service halt in Kilgarvan will allow the drivers a brief respite, before they again traverse Lough Allua and Fuhiry. The final stage of the day will be Lough Guitane, which will bring the crews back towards Killarney, the leaders due to arrive at the Gleneagle at 1720.

In a significant departure from previous years, the route on Sunday, May 3rd, will see a loop of four stages tackled twice. Again, Molls Gap will be the first stage of the day, with the first car due to start 'The Gap' at 1003. The remainder of the loop is completed by Beallaghbeama, Caragh Lake and Dunloe. There is a service halt after the Beallaghbeama stage at Glencar and again after Dunloe on the main Killarney to Cork road. The crews still remaining in the rally at this point will then get their third attempt of the weekend at Molls Gap. There will be again be a service in Glencar after the second run through Beallaghbeama, and the final Dunloe stage will also be preceded by a service near Killorglin.

The winners of the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2003 will arrive for the victory celebrations at the Gleneagle Hotel at 1745 on Sunday evening.

As always, full details of the rally route and time schedule will be included in the Official Programme and Map Book, which may be purchased in advance on the event website, www.rallyofthelakes.com. The cost of the Programme will be €10, plus €2 for postage and packaging. All online orders for the programme must be received by Wednesday, April 23rd.

Meanwhile, it has also been confirmed that the 2003 Rally of the Lakes will be part of the Trophee des Pays du Nord series. This new Championship is being run by the organisers of two National status events in Northern France, the Rallye des Flandres (May 31-Jun 1) and the Rallye Charlemagne (Jul 4-6). These two rallies form the final two rounds in the series, and participation in both is mandatory for drivers wishing to be classified in the final championship results.

The Rally of the Lakes is one of two Irish events on the Trophee du Nord calendar, the other being the West Cork Rally. Other rounds take place in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain and The Netherlands. Drivers count their best two scores from the mandatory events and any one other round towards their final points tallies. Cash prizes are awarded to the top ten drivers in the championship.

-www.rallyofthelakes.com

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