ITRC: Rally of the Lakes pre-event notes

Up to 70,000 people are expected to arrive in Killarney on the May Bank Holiday Weekend for the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2004, where they will join the rally organisers, Killarney & District Motor Club, in celebrating the event's...

Up to 70,000 people are expected to arrive in Killarney on the May Bank Holiday Weekend for the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2004, where they will join the rally organisers, Killarney & District Motor Club, in celebrating the event's 25th Anniversary. The Rally of the Lakes was first run as a small local affair in 1979, but grew quickly in status and reputation, and soon became one of the most popular rallies in Western Europe with competitors and fans alike, and it is now one of the highlights of Kerry's sporting calendar. The influx of visitors for the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes is expected to provide a ^À20 million boost to the economy of Killarney and its surroundings.

The rally will, as always, base its Headquarters in Killarney's Gleneagle Hotel, which has over the years, provided one of the most suitable such locations in the country.

This year, the rally weekend will kick off with a Super Special at Killarney Racecourse on the evening of Friday, April 30th. The top WRC, Group N and Modified seeds will be invited to take part, as will the 'Slowly Sideways' Group B drivers. A portion of the proceeds from the Super Special will be donated to the Fund for Jamie Kent. Jamie, from Waterford, was seriously injured while taking part as a co-driver in the Cork '20' International Rally last October, and he remains hospitalised since.

The rally proper gets under way on Saturday morning, with eleven stages being tackled on Day One. Eight further stages await the crews on Sunday, May 1st. Competitors in the main field will be joined by those taking in the new Junior Rally of the Lakes, (for drivers under 27 years of age) over the final four stages on Day Two.

Full details of the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2004 route will be contained in the Official Programme, which will go on sale next week. To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Rally of the Lakes and the recent successes of the Suzuki MotorSports Team in the Junior World Rally Championship, Killarney & District Motor Club has teamed up with Suzuki Ireland to give away a Suzuki Ignis Sport car. Each Official Programme will include five tickets into the draw for the Suzuki Ignis Sport.

Finland's Tapio Laukkanen is the No.1 seed for the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2004. The former British Champion won the opening round of the Pirelli Irish Tarmac Rally Championship in Galway at the beginning of February, but retired from the Circuit of Ireland at Easter, so he must record a good finish in Killarney if his bid for the 2004 Pirelli Championship is to remain on track.

The reigning Tarmac Champion, Derek McGarrity is at No.2, and he comes to the Rally of the Lakes on the back of a second successive Circuit of Ireland victory. Last year's Killarney winner and 2004 Tarmac series leader, Eugene Donnelly, follows next in his Toyota Corolla WRC. Ford Focus pilots, Dubliner Austin McHale and Killarney's Donie O'Sullivan are also in the top five seeds. O'Sullivan and co-driver, Paul Nagle, have shown excellent form in the early part of the 2004 season, taking victory on the West Cork and Circuit of Kerry rallies, and they could well record a 'home' win in Killarney.

Eamonn Boland will give the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC2 its Tarmac Championship debut on the Rally of the Lakes, while twiceformer Tarmac champion, Kenny McKinstry is also in the line-up.

Aaron McHale is the highest seeded driver in the Group N category (for Production-based cars), while Garry Jennings, James O'Sullivan, Dessie Keenan, James Foley and Killarney's own Kevin O'Donoghue are also expected to be in contention for honours in this closely-fought class.

In addition to the strong representation from Ireland and Great Britain, three drivers from the Netherlands have also entered the Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2004. Gerard Henneky (Mitsubishi Lancer), Edwin Abbring (Peugeot 206 XSi) and Jeroen de Jong (Opel Astra Kit Car) will take on the classic Killarney stages, which differ much from the typical roads of the Dutch lowlands.

The Ordnance Survey Ireland National Rally of the Lakes 2004, which will concurrently with the International event, has Welshman Phil Collins as the top seed. He drives a Ford Escort RS and will be navigated by Killarney's own Diarmuid Falvey. Their main challengers will be Philip Shaw/Derek Brannigan (BMW M3) and the Killarney & District Motor Club crew of Tom Randles and Diarmuid Lynch (Ford Escort RS).

The Ordnance Survey Ireland Junior Rally of the Lakes has attracted fifty entries, a remarkable figure for the inaugural event. Cork's Owen Murphy, winner of Ford's 2003 Rallye Academy, will be the first Junior driver on the road in his Peugeot 106.

<pre> Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2004

Top Twenty Seeds 1 Tapio Laukkanen/Harri Kaapro Subaru Impreza WRC S7 2 Derek McGarrity/Dermot O'Gorman Subaru Impreza WRC S9 3 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely Toyota Corolla WRC 4 Austin McHale/Brian Murphy Ford Focus WRC03 5 Donie O'Sullivan/Paul Nagle Ford Focus WRC01+ 6 Eamonn Boland/Damien Morrissey Mitsubishi Lancer WRC2 7 Kenny McKinstry/Sean Mullally Subaru Impreza WRC S8 8 Peadar Hurson/TBA Subaru Impreza WRC P2000 9 Tim McNulty/Anthony Nestor Subaru Impreza WRC S7 10 Liam McCarthy/Kieran Murphy Toyota Corolla WRC 11 Pete Doughty/Alan Whittaker Ford Escort WRC 12 Ollie O'Donovan/David Moynihan Subaru Impreza WRC P2000 14 Denis Cronin/Helen O'Sullivan Toyota Celica 4WD Turbo ST185 15 JJ Fleming/Robbie Ward Subaru Impreza WRC S9 16 George Cullen/Dominic Downey Subaru Impreza 555 17 Barry Coleman/Don Montgomery Subaru Impreza WRC99 18 John O'Sullivan/Pat Cashman Ford Escort WRC 19 Nigel Hicklin/Sam McMullan Subaru Impreza WRC S7 20 Tom Holton/Sean Walsh Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 21 Aaron McHale/Gerard McMonagle Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 [N]

Pirelli Irish Tarmac Rally Championship 2004 Positions after two of seven rounds*: 1: Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely Toyota Corolla WRC 24 points 2: Derek McGarrity/Dermot O'Gorman Subaru Impreza WRC S9 23 3: Austin McHale/Brian Murphy Ford Focus WRC03 18 4: Tapio Laukkanen/Harri Kaapro Subaru Impreza WRC S7 15 5: Donie O'Sullivan/Paul Nagle Ford Focus WRC01/02 11. (* Subject to official confirmation).

023 Tiles Southern 4 Championship 2004 Positions after one of five rounds: 1: Donie O'Sullivan/Paul Nagle Ford Focus WRC01/02 20 Points 2: Liam McCarthy/Kieran Murphy Toyota Corolla WRC 18 3: Kieran O'Callaghan/Denis O'Donovan Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5 16 4: Nigel Hicklin/Sam McMullan Subaru Impreza WRC S7 14 5: Phil Collins/Howard Davies Ford Escort Mk II 13

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Howard Davies , Austin McHale , Brian Murphy , Paul Nagle , Ollie O'Donovan