Entry list filling fast for annual Wexford Rally
WITH JUST over three weeks to go before the 2013 Wexford Stages Rally event, the entry list is filling up fast.
There are now just about 20 places left on the main field, with the Junior event filling at a faster than normal rate as well.
The inclusion of the 2013 running of the 'Wexford' in the REIS Get Connected MSA Asphalt championship has been a factor in the healthy entry. With this championship drawing to a close, and also being very tight at the top, all the leading protagonists in this championship will be putting their skills to the test on the tricky Wexford stages. It is now possible that Wexford tar,or maybe a Wexford pothole, will be the decider.
Damian Cole, no stranger to the winners' podium in Wexford, is leading the championship at present following his win in the Tyneside rally, tied on points with Washington James, but leading by virtue of his discard score. With the next three drivers in the overall championship, Steve Simpson, Simon Mauger and John Indri, all within ten points of the lead at present, Wexford will be of extreme importance.
Likewise in the Millington RWD section, only seven points cover the top three, Mauger in his Mk2 and the Darrians of Indri and James. At the time of writing, neither Mauger or Indri have submitted entries to the event, but with both having no scores in previous rounds, late entries from both could be a possibility given the points standings as of now.
With the Mewla rally two weeks before Wexford and the Patriot rally on September 29 and the Cheviot rally on October 20, Wexford will be a big factor in the outcome of the overall championship and its various classes.
Not to be forgotton also is the Triton Showers South East stages rally championship. The final round will take place in Wexford, so all the class positions and the overall position will come down to the wire by rally end on the Sunday evening. Offaly's Mike Garahy and Kilkenny native, Paschal O'Shea, both in Escorts, are the two divided by four points going into the rally that can win the overall, but in some of the classes it is a much tighter affair.
Some of the drivers in various classes have still to use up their double score round in Wexford, so class positions before Wexford could be very different after Wexford has come to a conclusion. In both the Reis Get Connected and the Triton South East stages, there will be a lot of batteries worn out in calculators and fingers run out of to count the various possible outcomes before the winners are announced.
Should people think that the overall positions in the rally are forgotten about, James Stafford proved to everyone last year that two-wheel drive cars can match, and beat, their more expensive WRC counterparts. Damian Cole knew towards the latter end of day two that this was the case and had to concede the victory to the Darrian of Stafford.
Stafford was just coming into a decent run of form before Wexford 2012, and the mechanical woes of previous year's Wexford rallies were banished to take last year's top spot. The good form has continued into this year, so expect him to be mentioned in the dice for overall victory all weekend.
Damian Cole will no doubt want to win back his Wexford crown, having been the most sucessful overseas driver in recent years. The strong U.K.-based entry will also be noticeable in the overall scheme of things, as Steve Simpson, Simon Mauger, Washington James and John Indri will make the top end of things interesting all weekend.
With the advent of modern technology, smart phones and social media, the role of co-driver has taken on more work in recent years, with most crews knowing where they stand in the results race within seconds of finishing a stage, as well as knowing how their closest rivals in class and overall positions are placed. Expect many tactical drives to take place to ensure crews maximise their class or overall positions.
For the fan on the ditch, or at home in their house, they can of course follow up to date results and times on www.wexfordmotorclub.ie or follow Wexford Motor Club on Facebook and Twitter. With the closing date for entries now approaching, the final seeded entry list will have far-reaching interest among competitor and rally follower alike when it is released in the coming weeks.
Any crews that are thinking about entering should remember the fast pace of received entries and not hang back and get their entry in as soon as possible to secure one of the coveted 131 places on the list of cars to pass through the start ramp at the Riverbank House Hotel in Wexford on September 7.