THE 2013 rally season kicked off for some Wexford competitors on February 3 with the running of the Galway International Rally. Those who made the long trip over included Liam Howlett who had fellow Wexford club member Andy Hayes navigating in a Mark II Escort.
Cavan native but Wexford Motor Club member Stephen McCann teamed up with Wexford's Lisa O'Dowd in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7, while Conor Moore enlisted the help of Cork's Stephen Quinn to navigate for him in his Honda Civic. All of these crews were competing in the national section of the Galway event.
The club was also represented in the Junior section where Richard Moore had entered in his Honda Civic and paired up Paul Twomey from Cork.
Liam Howlett and Andy Hayes were the first of the Wexford crews off the line with high hopes of challenging for the overall win in the national section. Next up were Stephen McCann and Lisa O'Dowd with similar aspirations while Conor Moore and Stephen Quinn were hoping for a good finish in class 11.
After the first stage Howlett and Hayes were lying an impressive sixth overall with McCann and O'Dowd just 2.5 seconds behind in seventh place overall. Moore and Quinn were in 17th place.
However, things started to go wrong for Howlett and Hayes on the second stage where mechanical difficulties would see them drop way down the order and eventually into retirement, while things were only getting better for McCann and O'Dowd as, after setting the quickest time in the national section on stage two, they jumped up to fourth overall.
Stage two would also see the demise of Conor Moore and Stephen Quinn after getting stuck and going over their maximum time allowed trying to get out of the stage. This left only McCann and O'Dowd representing Wexford in the national section.
At the start of stage three Stephen and Lisa were to suffer mechanical problems which left the car down on power, and as a result they lost over two minutes through the next couple of stages and dropped back to 16th overall.
After their next visit to service they managed to get the problem fixed and went on to pull back enough time to move them back up to eighth overall at the finish of the event. In the process they had also set another fastest time on the last stage of the day. As well as picking up the award for first in class 15, Stephen and Lisa also received the award for the highest-placed mixed crew.
Meanwhile, over in the Junior section of the event, run for competitors under 26 years of age, Richard Moore and Paul Twomey got off to a good start with a time good enough to leave them in second place overall after the first stage.
Richard and Paul continued to set times good enough to keep them in a close second overall until, at the end of stage four, Richard inherited first place overall after the earlier leader retired. They managed to hold on to this lead for the rest of the day and come out overall winners of the Junior section.
Wexford Motor Club's monthly meeting takes place tonight (February 12) at 9 p.m. in the Riverbank House Hotel. We will always welcome new faces so feel free to come along. Our meetings take place on the second Tuesday of every month.
The next rally event for some of our members will be the Birr Stages Rally on February 24, and the next event being organised by Wexford Motor Club will be the National Championship Hilllclimb on March 23-24. We will have a preview of this event coming soon.