Local drivers in the Rally
Former double national rally champion Donegal's Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC) heads the entry for Sunday's FAAC Simply automatic/Sligo Park Hotel Rally, round four of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship. As the county and indeed the country enjoys a heat wave perhaps Triton will be the only showers that will be experienced over Sunday's nine stages around Collooney.
Boyle has set a hot pace this season winning the opening round on Achill Island and finishing second in Tralee and Cavan. Although fellow Donegal drivers Joe McGonigle (Mini WRC) and Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) are his closest rivals in terms of championship points, Monaghan's Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC). Moffett is bidding to emulate his older brother Sam, who clinched the Triton series here in Sligo some twelve months ago.
Whether it is an overall finish, a class result or simply getting to the finish ramp, a result on one's home event is very important to any competitor. But of course many locals are also in pursuit of points within either of the three championships. And then of course there is also that local sporting rivalry and pride which has been building over the past number of weeks.
Chasing championship points, David Leonard and Niall Burns will be adamant to gain maximum in Class 20 in both the National an Border one of the most experienced local pairing on the event. Being ardent supporters of rallying in this region, both as competitors but also as joint title sponsors, Ciaran Phelan with daughter Aine on board have perused many of their dream events this year, including recently Donegal International, but loyalty to Sligo Stages has always been to the fore. Son Cormac and partner Katja, well recognised for their recent television advert appearance will also be battling in the very competitive Class 13, a difficult one to come away with an award.
Making a return, this time in a Civic, having a disappointing run last year when the hired Escort didn't stick the pace, Patrick Corcoran with colleague Leigh Cavanagh calling notes will be aiming for a finish. Anthony O'Brien originally from Tubbercurry, returning from his adopted home in London to contest his native event, with neighbour Aidan Gannon calling notes in the Evo, bringing their valuable experience gained on many Belgium events.
Ballinful native Patrick Herity on this outing with the experienced Sean Harte in the navigator seat, and the lucky winner of the Carty Group win back draw, will be chasing his goals in that busy Class 13 field. Keith Ewing and Sean Quigley, delighted winners of the second win back draw, will be no doubt having a cautious approach on their first event having had some set backs in advance of Mayo stages which they failed to start.
Dromahair's Kieran Carroll, a seasoned campaigner, took guidance last year from Tony Curran sitting on for the first time to finish third in class. Gurteen team of Davy Hunt and Gillian Gilmartin have a number of events under their belt in this meticulously self prepared 106, the most recent in Cavan when going well were forced to retire on the last loop.
North Sligo's Phillip Harte, always a very quick contender in the Nova, making a welcome return having had a few years out. Making their debut in the Sunbeam, brothers Paul and Brian McLoughlin will be beginning with a cautious start, Brian with his vast experience on the notes will be a good strength to the duo.
Coming back after a number of years out an opportunity to put their engineering expertise to bare on the well known Twin Cam, John Warren and Ruthann O'Connor will be one to watch, but be aware of its change of colour. Team Quinn is again out in strength, David with Wesley Shaw again on the notes will be making the most of dry conditions in his spectacular Bmw E30.
Having inserted a new heart into the left hand drive Manta, brothers Gary and Alan will be on their usual mission, always a joy to watch. Reversing roles again this year, its Ferlin Taylor in the driving seat with Dee Benson back in the navy seat, Deirdre having debuted the Civic last year.
Cloonacool native Art McCarrick with John McCay on notes is predicted to hire something different for his home event , rumoured to be a rear wheel drive and will of course be raising awareness on Platelet donation through his campaign. Manorhamilton's Stephen Reynolds , having contested the Juniors up to this, now battles in Class 1, both he and navigator Derek McCarthy lies second in that class in the Border Championship.
A new pairing, Paul McConnell with Kevin Cogan on the notes, out in a 11F Civic, Kevin to bring his experience to bear on the crew. All crews will gather in the Sligo Park after the rally.