REIGNING Intercontinental Rally champions, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle in their Peugeot 207 S2000 are sixth overall after the opening leg of three stages of the Sata Rallye Acores, the seventh round of the series.
The Tyrone/Kerry pair ended last evening’s three stages 12.3 seconds behind the Skoda Fabia of series leader, Juho Hanninen.
Meeke’s team-mate, Peugeot Sport Portugal driver, Bruno Magalhaes, who won the 2008 event, was quickest on the first stage — three tenths of a second ahead of the M-Sport Ford Fiesta of Andreas Mikkelsen. Hanninen was third fastest followed by his Skoda team-mate Jan Kopecky. However, Meeke had to be content with fifth — suffering from running first with his Peugeot UK backed car having to clean the loose gravel off the road.
Hanninen set the pace on the second test to move to within a 10th of a second off Magalhaes, Mikkelsen dropped to third with Kopecky fourth. Meeke was fifth — 12.6 seconds off top spot.
On the short third stage which completed the opening leg, Mikkelsen was quickest, 1.1 seconds ahead of Meeke, who remained in sixth but commented: “I think we will have a good position tomorrow”. Meeke will run directly behind series leader, Hanninen, who will be fifth on the road — the start order for today’s stages is a reverse of last evening’s top five finishers.
Meanwhile, the event features the first running of the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy that will be awarded on all the remaining IRC rounds. It will be presented to the driver who produces the most spectacular performance in the spirit of the rally legend, who lost his life in a helicopter accident in 2007. The trophy is part of the new partnership between the IRC and the Colin McRae Vision, an organisation that aims to improve the health and education for children around the world.
Although Tim McNulty (Subaru) is the top seed for Sunday’s City North Hotel ALMC Rally, the Meath ma is rated as a doubtful starter. Business commitments are likely to rule him out of the event he was planning as a shakedown for next month’s Ulster Rally. Nevertheless, it remains a relatively strong entry with defending ALMC champion, Michael Barrable (Ford Focus), Damian Cole (Ford Focus WRC), John Stone (Skoda Fabia WRC), Michael O’Brien (Ford Focus WRC) and Mark Jasper (Metro 6R4) amongst the top ten. Donegal’s, PJ McDermott (Subaru WRC) withdrew his entry yesterday. British driver, Simon Mauger (Ford Escort) heads the Modified entry where Kenny McKinstry’s presence in a Mk. 2 Ford Escort will be the centre of attention. The event that begins at 9.30am has stages in counties Dublin and Meath, it is also the fifth round of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland series with Neil McCance 12 points ahead of Sam Moffett, Brendan Cumiskey is two points further behind.
The Cork “20” International Rally (October 2-3) the final round of the Irish Tarmac Championship, will be based at the Silver Springs Moran Hotel, associate sponsors along with Orchard Motorsport. The service location is set to be based in Macroom.
Rallying legends, Billy Coleman, Jimmy McRae and Russell Brookes have signalled their intentions to compete in the Carrick on Suir Halloween Historic Rally on October 31st. next.
Following a major survey of competitors in the current Dunlop series, next season’s National Rally Championship will be reduced to eight rounds with the best six scores to count. Several aspects of the series will also be streamlined.
Cork racer, Matt Griffin aims to extend his lead in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Rockingham this weekend. Driving the M Tech prepared Ferrari 430 Scuderia, the Northampton based driver will be partnered by Britain’s, Duncan Cameron. They will be hoping to erase the disappointment of last time out at Spa-Francorchamps where tyre damage cost them a podium finish.
Irish ace, Eoin Murray contests rounds five and six of the Seat Leon Eurocup at Brands Hatch. The Dubliner is just seven points behind leader Gabor Weber. Murray has tasted victory at the Kent track and is confident of a strong result.
Racing in Mondello Park features a double header in the new Irish Touring Car Championship (ITCC), the inaugural race in the Ginetta Junior Ireland series and Formula Vee, that will also have two races. The Carlow organisers are hopeful of a full grid (30 cars) in the ITCC. The first race will begin at 11.40am.
Elsewhere, the “O” Plate Kart Races at Watergrasshill starts tomorrow at 3pm and Sunday at 9.30am.
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