National Rally Championship returns & Irish ambitions abroad – Endurance LeMans Series
The ever popular Triton Showers National Rally Championship has once again lived up to its reputation with a bumper entry for the 6th round of the championship, this weekend’s Sligo Park Hotel and McCormack Car Sales Sligo Stages Rally.
Clerk of the Course Robert Lyttle has laid out a challenging loop of stages based in the north of the county taking in some classic roads and the event has received over 150 entries. Heading the field will be 2013 and 2014 National Champion, Declan Boyle. Boyle will be bringing his brand new Ford Fiesta World Car to Sligo and the Donegal driver, who has had a string of poor results this season, has nothing to lose this weekend. Boyle won in Sligo in 2013 on his way taking his first national title. Seeded behind Boyle are Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan. Ford Focus mounted Kelly has been faultless in his title campaign so far, either winning or taking maximum points from the opening 5 rounds of the championship. Sam Moffett will start at number 3 driving the Ford Fiesta World Rally Car that his younger brother Josh took to victory in Sligo last year. Niall Maguire starts at number 4 in his newly acquired Subaru Impreza WRC while 2 time Irish Tarmac Champion Kenny McKinstry is a surprise entry at number 5.
Among the 2 wheel drive runners Declan Gallagher and Ryan Moore are expected to be the pacesetters and they will start at number 10 in their Toyota Starlet. With entries from Jonathan Pringle, Gary Kiernan, Chris Armstrong and David Moffett however, Gallagher will have to work hard to stay ahead of the pack. Trevor Bustard heads an interesting Group N entry which includes Pat Kirk, Shane Maguire, Aidan Wray and Paul Barrett with the possibility of local drivers Sean Gallagher and Paul Kiely causing an upset in the category. Roscommon driver Cormac Phelan heads a strong junior entry of 14 cars.
The first cars will depart from the Sligo Retail Park at 9.45am on Sunday morning with the first stage of the event starting at 10.27am. The leading cars are expected back at the Sligo Park Hotel finish ramp at 5.15pm. More information can be found by visiting www.connachtmotorclub.com
Following on from an encouraging performance at LeMans last month, the Murphy Prototypes endurance racing team is back in action next weekend as they attempt round 3 of the Endurance LeMans Series at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. The team’s Oreca 03R will be piloted in Austria by the 3 man team of Mark Patterson, Nathanaël Berthon and Michael Lyons. The trio finished 2nd at last round of the series in Imola, Italy and Irish team boss Greg Murphy is hopeful the team can build on their strong performances to date: “Because the competition is extremely fierce, we know it’s going to be tough to win but it also means the sense of achievement when we score a good result is very high. If we can continue to finish in the top 3 for the rest of the season, then it’s going to do our title hopes no harm at all.”