Denis Cronin will give Wesley Patterson tough test

The decision by Motorsport Ireland to phase out the one-time popular single stage rallies has worked in favour of one of the newest motor clubs in the country, the Imokilly Motor Club.

Denis Cronin will give Wesley Patterson tough test

On Sunday, they host the Imokilly Mini Stages Rally, a six-stage rally (two stages repeated three times) in the Dungarvan region,with Lisburn’s Wesley Patterson (FordEscort) heading an entry of some 130 crews.

Another vastly experienced driver, Ballylickey’s Denis Cronin, offers the most potent opposition in his ’99 specification Subaru WRC that has S10 technology. The West Cork driver isn’t noted for making quick starts but should have enough to complete the task over the six stags. Killarney’s Ed Murphy in a Ford Escort occupies the number three berth followed by Limerick’s Ed O’Callaghan, who could also give Patterson a torrid time.

There are two Group N cars in the top 10 — Clashmore’s Brian O’Keeffe (Subaru) and Dunmanway’s David Guest (Mitsubishi) with the Escort of Gary Kiernan, Youghal’s Jason Ryan (Toyota Starlet) and Enda O’Brien (Escort) all sandwiched by the showroom duo. The event, based at the Park Hotel in Dungarvan, is a counting round of the Southern 4 Rally Championship. The first stage begins at 11am and the event is due to finish at 4.40pm.

Meanwhile, tomorrow’s POC NI Distribution Tyrone Rally in Cookstown, round five of the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship, has holder Derek McGarrity (Subaru WRC) as its top seed. The Antrim driver will be co-driven by Diarmuid Falvey, who makes the journey from Tralee.

Former national champion Warrenpoint’s Peadar Hurson (S10 Subaru) and his Monaghan co-driver Damien Connolly are likely to be their main rivals. The Mitsubishi EvoIX’s of Geoff McMahon and Simon Woodside, Keith McIvor (Porsche 911) and Camillus Bradley, Enda McNulty, Frank Kelly and Davy Armstrong, all in Mk. 2 Escorts are also in the top 10.

The six-stage rally also incorporates the “Road2Wales” competition and it accounts for the entry of promising Killarney driver Rob Duggan and co-driver Ger Conway, who are set to debut a Peugeot 208R2. Their main opponents are Antrim’s Keith White (Citroen C2R2) and Fermanagh’s Jon Armstrong (Peugeot 208R2) with Killarney’s Noel O’Sullivan calling the notes. The overall winner will receive a free entry and a fully funded drive in a David Greer Motorsport Citroen DS3 R3 in Rally GB, the final round of the World Rally Championship.

Elsewhere, Motorsport Ireland’s International Driver of the Year, Cork racer Matt Griffin, is targeting another podium finish on what he acknowledges as his favourite event, the iconic 24 hours of Spa. He has already raced on more than 20 occasions at Spa and tomorrow’s race represents his 21st start in a 24-hour race. He was third in Spa in 2011 and won two years ago so it’s no real surprise that he likes the track.

“If you ask any driver for a list of their favourite circuits, Spa will be right up there,” said Griffin. “The place is fantastic and the 24hrs of Spa is my favourite event. As 24-hour races go, it is one of the toughest both physically and mentally and when you look at the size and quality of the grid, it’s easy to understand why it is so difficult to win. I have been successful here in the past and that gives me confidence. Our aim will be to win but I expect a huge fight.”

As in any sport, diet is hugely important and, with Griffin constantly switching continents, it brings a challenge. “Diet and weight are very important. 10kg is worth probably about two 10ths of a second a lap so when you consider that I was on pole position for the last European Le Mans Series race by 22 thousands of a second, weight is crucial. That is where travelling is very difficult as its hard to find the correct food that give you energy and is not going make you put on weight. Mind you, I have a beer after the race - especially if I have done well!”

Along with regular team mate Duncan Cameron, they will be joined in their No. 51 Ferrari 458 GT3 by Italian driver Davide Rigon and Portuguese ace Francisco Guedes. The car will be run by the AF Corse Ferrari team, Griffin and Cameron lead the Pro-Am class in the Blancpain series with Spa counting as round four. The race will start at 4.30pm tomorrow afternoon.

In motorcycling, Waterford’s Brian McCormack (Honda CBR1000RR) seeks a third straight win in the West Cork Motorcycle Club’s third annual Dunderrow Hillclimb on Sunday. Grenagh’s Ray Casey also on a Honda is likely to provide the main opposition.

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CourtsImokilly Motor ClubPlace: DungarvanPlace: LisburnPlace: LimerickPlace: Park HotelPlace: CookstownPlace: TraleePlace: MonaghanPlace: FermanaghPlace: SpaPerson: Denis CroninPerson: Wesley PattersonPerson: Ed MurphyPerson: Ed O’CallaghanPerson: PattersonPerson: Brian O’KeeffePerson: David GuestPerson: Gary KiernanPerson: Jason RyanPerson: Enda O’BrienPerson: Derek McGarrityPerson: Diarmuid FalveyPerson: Peadar HursonPerson: Damien ConnollyPerson: Geoff McMahonPerson: Simon WoodsidePerson: Keith McIvorPerson: Camillus BradleyPerson: Enda McNultyPerson: Frank KellyPerson: Davy ArmstrongPerson: KillarneyPerson: Rob DugganPerson: Ger ConwayPerson: Keith WhitePerson: Jon ArmstrongPerson: Noel O’SullivanPerson: Matt GriffinPerson: GriffinPerson: Duncan CameronPerson: Davide RigonPerson: Francisco GuedesPerson: CameronPerson: Brian McCormackEvent: Imokilly Mini Stages RallyEvent: Southern 4 Rally ChampionshipEvent: POC NI Distribution Tyrone RallyEvent: McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally ChampionshipEvent: Road2WalesEvent: Rally GBEvent: World Rally ChampionshipEvent: European Le Mans SeriesEvent: Dunderrow HillclimbOrganisation: Motorsport IrelandOrganisation: Imokilly Motor ClubOrganisation: FordEscortOrganisation: Subaru WRCOrganisation: Ford EscortOrganisation: SubaruOrganisation: DunmanwayOrganisation: MitsubishiOrganisation: Toyota StarletOrganisation: Mitsubishi EvoIXOrganisation: PorscheOrganisation: PeugeotOrganisation: David Greer MotorsportOrganisation: AF Corse FerrariOrganisation: HondaOrganisation: West Cork Motorcycle Club
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