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Cole back for Wexford raid

NEWLY CROWNED British Asphalt champion Damian Cole scored his first overall victory in Ireland when he outpaced Michael Barrable over the final stages to win the ALMC event last July.

Will he repeat his victory as he heads the entry list for the Wexford MC Dick Bailey Riverbank Hotel rally this weekend?

Driving a Focus WRC, the Englishman achieved an unbelievable five maximum scores -- including the ALMC round -- to take the British title and seems favourite to add a Wexford victory to his portfolio this weekend.

Second-seed Neil McCance has already tasted success on the Carlow and Ravens Rock rallies and was in line to retain his Irish Evo title until two retirements on his last two events dropped him down the pecking order.

He will be intent on regaining his winning form and on scoring as many points as possible on each day as they count as individual rounds of the Irish Evo Challenge.The third seed is an interesting combination as two champion drivers join forces for the first time. Multiple Fiesta champion Craig Breen will co-drive British Evo champion Daniel Barry in the latter's Evo9. Could they prove to be the winning combination in the south-east?


It will be interesting to see how Simon Mauger -- the benchmark for the Escort Mk2 brigade -- fares when he comes up against Wesley Patterson, one of the fastest Irish Escort drivers, for the first time. Mauger, who is teaming up with Alistair Wylie of Cork for the first time, will be going all-out to remain undefeated against the home two-wheel drive opposition.

Consistency has shot Brendan Cumiskey to the top of the Irish Evo series and he will be intent on continuing with his present form to regain the title he lost to Neil McCance last year.

A hectic battle between Cumiskey, McCance and Sam Moffett is on the cards as they challenge for the Irish title and the chance to become the first European Evo champion in Cyprus in November.

Other names in the top 10 includes Washington James (Darrian T90 GTR), Maurice Moffett (Toyota Starlet), Neil Williams (Escort Mk2) and Mark Nangle who will have Nollaig Breen in the co-driver's seat of his Subaru.

The event gets under way with a ceremonial start on the Quay front tomorrow night (7pm) before tackling nine stages on Saturday and a further six on Sunday.

p Stuart Biggerstaff will be doing all in his power to maintain his 11-point lead in the Hankook NI championship when he lines up against main rival Mark Donnelly in the Enniskillen Lakeland rally on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Derek McGarrity, lying third in the series despite missing the Mourne and Dogleap rounds, will be vying to add to his points tally and regain the lead from the young championship newcomers.

Although not registered for the championship, Kenny McKinstry will nevertheless be targeting an outright victory. The eight-stage event starts from Fisher Engineering, Ballinamallard and finishes at the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen with centralised servicing at Garrison village.

p The Leinster Trophy meeting is but a shadow of what it was when it attracted European FF2000 and Formula Opel Lotus championship rounds to the Co Kildare track in the '80s and '90s and with them Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen -- who both went on to become F1 world champions.

The most prestigious trophy in Irish racing will feature Formula Vee -- the most popular racing class -- this year. Formula Vee drivers will concentrate on the Leinster Trophy as a one-off race on Sunday after getting their championship round behind them the previous day.

The packed two-day meeting will see all home classes in action over the weekend with nine races scheduled for Saturday and a further 11 races on Sunday.

p While the Wexford rally and the Leinster Trophy races are the major events this weekend other club events are also listed on the calendar. Birr & DAC hosts a two-day championship autocross at Killeen Birr while Connacht MC holds a loose surface autocross at Hazelwood Sligo and Kerry MC is running an autosolo at Tralee Racecourse Ballybeggan Tralee -- both meetings on Sunday.

p Three points separate Derek Tohill and leader Norwegian Knut Ove Barseth in the Division 2 European rallycross championship with two remaining rounds -- Poland this weekend and the Czech Republic one week later.

The Dubliner is confident he can continue his winning habit and add victories in the final two rounds in Eastern Europe to his wins in Belgium, Germany and Britain and bring the European crown to Ireland.

p Kris Meeke took over the Ulster-winning Citroen DS3 R3 to give the car its maiden win on mainland Europe, finishing 11th overall and winning the R3 class at Mont Blanc last weekend.

Fellow Ulsterman Marty McCormack was 19th overall and second in the Citroen C2R2 Cup on the same event.

Munster men Paul Nagle and David Moynihan were co-drivers to Meeke and McCormack respectively.