Cork’s Matt Griffin is upbeat ahead of this weekend’s fourth round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Silverstone.
The Northamptonshire-based racer will drive the No. 61 AF Corse–Waltrip entered Ferrari 458 GTE. Third in the second round of the WEC in Spa, he is eager to take the top step of the podium at a track that has suited his Ferrari in the past.
“I feel very good about the weekend ahead. It is the toughest series in the world but I know AF Corse will give me a very fast package as usual,” said Griffin. “We were very competitive at Le Mans and finished third at Spa, so I think we can challenge for victory at Silverstone.”
It’s been an incredibly busy season for Griffin. Directly after the race, he and fellow AF Corse driver, Gianmaria Bruni, will travel to Kuala Lumpur where they will drive for Clearwater Racing in the famous Merdeka 12-hour race at the Sepang International Circuit.
After suffering an agonising retirement an hour before the finish last year, Griffin reckons he has unfinished business.
“The Merdeka is a very tough race but I want to finish the job this year and I am sure we are up to the task. A good result at Silverstone this weekend will give me maximum confidence.”
In a bid to keep fresh for his Dunlop National Rally Championship title bid, Kerry’s Thomas Fitzmaurice, the current leader of the series, is the top seed for Sunday’s Galway Summer Rally. Given that the event is not part of the Dunlop series on this occasion, the organisers have still managed to attract a strong entry, with four World Rally Cars amongst the top 10.
Fitzmaurice will drive the ex-Patrick Elliott S11 Subaru WRC, the car that has already provided him with wins in Abbeyleix and Kerry. Third in the Top Part standings and with neither Frank Kelly or Mike Quinn on the entry list, Fitzmaurice can take over.
Local ace JJ Fleming, in his Ford Focus WRC, finished second in the Raven’s Rock Rally last June and this is the ideal event to judge his pace against Fitzmaurice. The entry also features Donegal’s Donagh Kelly (S11 Subaru WRC), who had a top three finish in the Circuit of Munster and was fourth in the Donegal International.
Having acquired last year’s National and Irish Tarmac Championship winning S12B Subaru WRC, Donegal’s Declan Boyle will debut on the nine-stage event. He will be watched with interest, possibly more so by Fitzmaurice as the Glenties driver is set to compete on the final two rounds of the Dunlop series. Having campaigned a Mk. 2 Escort in several of the earlier Dunlop rounds, he will be eligible to score points.
The remainder of the top 10 is dominated by the two-wheel drive cars. Galwegian Tom Flaherty, in a Mk. 2 Escort, will fly the local flag and faces opposition from Daniel Doherty (Ford Escort), Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet), Ed Synan (Ford Escort) and Maurice Moffett (Toyota Starlet). Richard Burke (Subaru) is also amongst the top 10.
Former Billy Coleman Award winner Stuart Darcy will campaign a Mitsubishi EvoVI and is seeded just outside the top 10, along with Neil Pierce (Honda Civic) and Vincent O’Shea, who will drive the ex-Barry Meade Ford Escort.
The first stage starts at 10am with servicing after stages three and six. The rally is based at the Lough Rea Hotel, Loughrea with the finish ramp celebrations set for 5pm.
The World Rally Championship continues with Rally Deutschland. Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) leads team mate, Mikko Hirvonen by 43 points with Ford pair, Jari Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg hoping to give their team a much needed lift.
In the World Rally Academy series, Tyrone’s Alastair Fisher, after a disappointing outing in Finland, will be hoping to cut the 21-points deficit to leader, Elfyn Evans, who has taken maximum points in the last two rounds.
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