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Murray enters history books

NIALL MURRAY made history by becoming the youngest driver to win an MI-recognised car race in the Republic when he was one of nine who lined up for the inaugural Ginetta Junior Cup double-header last Sunday. Adding to his maiden win he claimed a lights-to-flag win in the second round, topping that with the fastest lap in both races for good measure.

His racing career started in the Cadet class in karting eight years ago, scooping several major awards before switching to junior rallycross last winter. He took three podium finishes, including two wins, two fastest laps and three pole positions to secure the runner-up spot in the junior rallycross championship.

The Ginetta Junior Cup is the first racing series open to drivers too young to hold a road licence -- 14-17 years old -- and is proving hugely successful.

While the 15-year old Colaiste Eanna (Ballyroan) student was making history in Co Kildare, his older brother Eoin was also proving his talents in front of WTCC team managers with a brace of podium finishes in the SEAT Leon Eurocup at Brands Hatch.

p Clerk-of-course Daniel Conaghan and his team have planned an interesting 10-stage rally when the Petro Systems national forestry championship visits Co Donegal for the first time on Saturday. More than 50 entries have been confirmed by Donegal MC for the event, including championship leader Pat O'Connell, who has won all three rounds to date.

Dubliner John Reid, who was runner-up to O'Connell in all three rounds, will be determined to break the stranglehold that the Cashel man has on the series. Mick Cuddihy, Enda McNulty and John McLoughlin, who fill the next three spots in the championship, are also listed. Class leaders Andrew Fanning, Mick Nevin, Sean Benskin, Mark Murphy and James Downey are expected to line up in the north-west event.

Based at the Abbey Hotel in Donegal town, the event heads south to Laghey for the opening four stages and then Barnesmore Gap for the final six before returning to Donegal town for a ceremonial finish. As a result of the cancellation of two forestry events, each competitor's best four scores from the six remaining rounds will count towards the championship.

p Kerry MC hosts a rallysprint at Tralee Racecourse, Ballybeggan, on Saturday, while the Monaghan club is holding a championship autocross event at Ballinode, Co Monaghan, on Sunday, and TDC is organising an autotest meeting at Mondello Park on the same day.

p Kenny McKinstry is one of the early entries for the popular Orchard Motorsport Lurgan Park rally on Saturday week. The 11-time winner from Banbridge faces tough competition from Circuit winner Derek McGarrity and Darren Gass -- all in Subaru WRCs. Denis Biggerstaff and Mark Jasper will be out in their Metro 6R4s.

Evo9-mounted pair John McGlaughlin and Kieran Gaffin feature in the Group N battle while Wesley Patterson, Frank Kelly, Declan Boyle and Adrian Hetherington -- all in Escort Mk2s -- spearhead the modified class.

p A lack of entries resulted in two rallies -- the Laois mini-stages and the north-east MC Stages event -- being cancelled. As a result, Motorsport Ireland officials will be cracking down on rally dates next year when rally organising clubs meet the Rallies Committee in Dublin next month.

A club must be represented at the meeting in order to be granted one or more dates for stage rallies next year.

p Formula Sheane Fiat Abarths and Strykers are the visiting classes to the 500MRCI July race meeting at Kirkistown on Saturday. Formula Ford is expected to create plenty of exciting racing with reigning champion John Ferguson, Morgan Dempsey, Noel Robinson and Jonny McMullen jousting for honours. Libre saloons and GTs also feature in the programme.

p Munster MC released details of the Cork 20 rally in early October. The final round of the Citroen Irish Tarmac series, it will be co-sponsored by Orchard Motorsport and Silver Springs Moran Hotel, where the event will be based. It will combine some new stages with some classic Cork 20 stages to produce a competitive route.

Last year's winner, Gareth MacHale, will be top seed, while Alistair Fisher is expected to miss the final round of the British series -- the Yorkshire -- to concentrate on his bid for the Irish title in Cork, which offers 50pc bonus points.

Irish Citroen Cup leader Robert Barrable is another expected to travel to Cork. The Swords youngster leads both the Irish and British Citroen Cups but cannot score points in both series on the Ulster international. As a result he is registering for points in the British series in Ulster and likewise for the Irish championship in Cork.

p Irish 205 Challenge co-ordinator Andrew Slattery confirms work has already started on next year's championship.

"It is a pity there wasn't a championship this year but that is a sign of the times we're in," he said. "Things are looking up and already competitors are registering their interest for next year."