Clonmel-Sunday morning QRound 8 of 10 Dunlop National Rally Championship. "Bitter- Sweet" sums up the feeling on the run-up to the start of this Stonethrowers Rally. On the one hand it is great to be here in Clonmel for the rally. As usual the...
Clonmel-Sunday morning QRound 8 of 10 Dunlop National Rally Championship.
"Bitter- Sweet" sums up the feeling on the run-up to the start of this Stonethrowers Rally. On the one hand it is great to be here in Clonmel for the rally. As usual the entry list is bursting with interest, talented drivers, lovely cars. The welcome and charm of the place and people is very special. The bitter bit is the empty feeling of no Frank Meagher here. Such a special man, such a big part of this rally, all rallies, over the years. This Stonethrowers, the commemorative programme, so well done, such a graphic, sad reminder.
Niall Maguire heads the entry, with Paul Nagle co-driving. Usual co-driver Paul McLaughlin fell off his bike this week, broke his collar bone, so can't start. A bit ironic really. McLaughlin has steered Niall successfully through seven rounds of the Dunlop National Championship, so that he is in a position to wrap up the series today on this eighth counter.
Niall reports that his all conquering Subaru required little refettling after its last outing, the Sligo win. There the water spray to the all banging anti lag/launch control system was clogged, meaning overheating of the exhaust manifolds. That has all been sorted.
Just who will deny Niall Maguire Dunlop points - besides himself - here in Tipperary? Well, the most obvious people are Patrick Elliott, David Armstrong and Michael Barrable. Then there's Hugh Dunne, Liam McCarthy, Anthony O'Halloran, Sean Gallagher to name just a few more. Missing from the top ten listed in the programme are Donal O'Donovan and Denis Cronin.
Patrick Elliott tells us that his Subaru is getting a last minute transmission wiring loom fitted to try and cure the car's erratic handling. Michael Barrable reports that his Subaru was at last to his liking at Punchestown, where he had his wife co-driving, Michael relaxed, just drove the car, and the times started to flow. Really though the rally is wide open. Maguire say's he is going to go flat out. With so much at stake in Dunlop Championship terms that is hard to believe.
The fight for GpN honours on the rally should be just as frenetic as for overall. Indeed the two could overlap. Roy White, whose father Sean, through his FESP Company, stepped in to back this special Frank Meagher Memorial Stonethrowers, is probably the benchmark in his fabulous new Lancer Evo 7. Roy is trying a new Proflex suspension system today.
Aaron McHale, GpN leader in the Dunlop series, Kieran Molloy, both in Mitsubishis, George Tracey, just back from his Barbados holiday, and James Cribben, both in Subarus, are just two more who may give White a hard time. That's just skimming over the surface as regards the drivers on this Stonethrowers. There are lots of good people we haven't mentioned. Further non-starters include Tom Holton, Sean McArdle & John Nolan. Several of the reserves will get a start, including Jimmy Lambert/James Coleman, who should start close to the 'top men' More news after first stage.