Motorsport: Top seed Enda O’Brien can expect tough battle in midlands

The popularity of Sunday’s Germaine’s of Baltinglass Hotel Rally is reflected by an entry of 130 competitors that will be led away by top seed and favourite Kilkenny’s Enda O’Brien (Ford Escort).

Motorsport: Top seed Enda O’Brien can expect tough battle in midlands

He can expect a strong challenge over the six stages where Carlow’s David Condell (Ford Escort) and Cork’s Barry Meade should be able to match his pace. Meade, also in a Ford Escort, will be hoping his third place in the national category of the recent Acesigns Cork “20” International Rally will be a platform to victory. Another driver that should be in the groove is Limerick’s Ed O’Callaghan (Escort) despite some struggles in the Donegal Harvest Rally.

The Escort dominance is broken by Laois driver John Lynch (Darrian). The top ten that also includes the Escorts of Mike Quinn and Martin Doherty, Donegal’s Stuart Darcy, who will debut the ex-Ian Barrett Darrian T90, Wayne Evans and Keith White, both in Escorts. Waterford’s Brian O’Keeffe (Mitsubishi EvoIX) is the top Group N entry. The first car away is at 9.50am. The Rally Legends in San Marino that continues until Sunday has a strong Irish interest with Kris Meeke taking to the wheel of the Citroen Xsara WRC as a tribute to the late Colin McRae, his former mentor. Meeke will be co-driven by Derek Brannigan. Donagh Kelly will compete in a Metro 6R4 while Kerry’s Thomas Fitzmaurice (Subaru WRC) along with the Escort pair of Frank Kelly and Ryan Barrett are also on an impressive entry.

At the conclusion of the rally, Meeke will participate in “Colin’s Parade” that brings together many former world champions, Sebastien Loeb will be present at the wheel of a Citroen C4 WRC.

Switching his attentions to the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) Matt Griffin and his team mates Aaron Scott and Duncan Cameron in the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488GTE are one of several crews that can win the LMGTE category of the series at the sixth and final round in Portimao. They trail leaders TF Sport (Aston Martin) by 11 points and JMW Motorsport by 10 points.

Meanwhile the awards ceremony for the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship takes place in Cork tomorrow night with the Munster Car Club as hosts. The overall award (Fisher Trophy) will be presented to Monaghan’s Sam Moffett and his Bandon co-driver Karl Atkinson. The Donegal/Cork duo of Kevin Eves/ William Lynch will accept the top award in the Modified section.

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