Trim Gears Up for Smartpart ALMC Rally
For the 2016 Smartpart ALMC Stages Rally, motorsport fans are set for a treat as the rally will see crews from the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, the MSA Asphalt Rally Championship and the Midlands East Rally Championship go head-to-head over the County Meath special stages this weekend. With over 40 UK-based teams travelling to participate in the rally alongside teams from all across Ireland, Trim is set to be a hive of activity this weekend.
Leading the 105 competing crews away from the Rally HQ at the Castle Arch Hotel will be the 2014 Irish National & Irish Tarmac Rally Champions Declan & Brian Boyle from Donegal in their Ford Fiesta WRC. Having been the first crew to take a new-age World Rally Championship (WRC) specification Ford Fiesta onto the Irish Stages, Declan and Brian have endured a torrid season to date, with a win at the Circuit of Kerry being the only highlight of a year that has been plagued with mechanical issues – most recently, a gear selector failure while leading the Donegal International Rally. With the Leitirmacaward men competing at the Lurgan Park Rally on Saturday before making the short hop to Trim on Sunday, a weekend of more positive results will surely be a priority for the Boyles.
Next on the road will be the current Triton Showers National Rally Championship leaders, Roy White and James O’Brien also in a Fiesta WRC. Consistency has proven the key in the Tipperary/Cork crew’s success this season, with a solid points haul achieved in all of the championship rounds to date. With Boyle out of championship contention, White and O’Brien will no doubt be focussed on consolidating their championship advantage over rivals Niall Maguire and Enda Sherry from Monaghan and the Down/Monaghan pairing of Peader Hurson and Damien Connolly, all in Subaru S12 WRC’s. Other crews who will be looking to taste the victory champagne will be previous ALMC Rally winners Hugh Hunter / Aled Davies and Melvyn Evans / Mark Glennerster again in Subaru WRCs and current MSA Asphalt Championship leaders Damien Cole / Paul Morris in another of the new Ford Fiesta WRCs. A number of the new R5 specification cars will also be snapping at the heels of the top seeds with Kerry’s Alan Ring / Adrian Deasy fresh from victory at Raven Rock at the weekend, and Brendan Cumiskey / Ronan O’Kane rounding out the Top 20 starters.
A strong modified section sees Tyrone’s Frank Kelly bringing the famous ‘baby blue’ Ford Escort Mark II to Trim while local driver Trevor Mulligan from Kells will be looking to put home advantage to good use and he will be seeking a good score which will keep him in contention for the Triton Showers Mark II Trophy. Having been pipped to victory in the Killarney National Rally, Ashbourne’s Jack Newman with Ardee’s Domhnall Lennon on the notes, will be looking to be at the business end of proceedings while Cavan’s Chris Armstrong in yet another Mark II is looking to dust off the cobwebs having made only a handful of appearances this year. Defending MSA Asphalt Champion Simon Mauger is set to return to the Irish stages in his unique MG Metro 4M4 while John Stone in the Millington-powered Fiesta S2500 and Simon Chapman in his Proton S2500 will also make for interesting viewing on the fast tarmac stages around Trim.
Class 4 (Group N) is proving very a competitive class in the Triton Showers Championship with five crews currently in contention at the half way point with Shane Maguire (Monaghan), Paul Barrett (Kildare), Donegal Group N winner Aidan Wray (Tyrone), Neil Tohill (Dublin) and Trevor Bustard (Donegal) all separated by just five championship points. With the inclusion of a historic section in this year’s rally, a number of cars which are not often seen on the Irish stages will compete with Duncan & Cate Buck bringing their stunning Porsche 911RS over from England while Belfast’s Malcolm Pedlow and Ivor Ferguson will make the short trip down the M1 with their BMW 2002. Dubliner John Reid with Enda Shiels on the notes round out the top three historic entries.
The junior category has proven one of the most competitive classes at every event this season and Michael Boyle (Honda) (son of number 1 seed Declan) will be looking to keep his nearest championship rival Colin Roche (Toyota) at bay while Gary McNamee (Honda) from Kells will be attempting to leapfrog Boyle and Roche with a win on his home stages.
The rally kicks off this Saturday (July 2nd) with scrutiny at Smartpart in the Eamonn Duggan Industrial Estate, Trim followed by a Ceremonial Start at 7pm at Trim Castle, where competing cars and crews will pass under the start ramp and pause for photos and interviews. The competitive element of the event takes place on Sunday, July 3rd with the first car away from ‘parc-ferme’ at 9:25am. The rally will consist of 3 stages in the scenic Boyne Valley Region at Ballivor, Rathcore and Trim with centralised servicing at the Oaktree Business Park, Athboy Road, Trim. Please note that there will be a number of road closures in operation in these areas and diversions will be signposted on the day of the rally.
As with all motorsport events, safety comes first and foremost and intending spectators are asked to arrive to their locations early, identify a safe location to spectate from and to always follow the instructions of the event officials and marshals. Should any spectators be found to be standing in dangerous positions such as areas designated as “forbidden ground” or acting inappropriately along the route, stages will be cancelled.
The official event programme is on sale at a number of outlets in Trim and in areas along the rally route with a full list of retailers posted online at www.almc.ie. The 40-page programme is very keenly priced at €5 and contains maps of all the stages, an entry list, motorsport news and a number of features on the ALMC club’s activities.