For Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, today’s final round of the World Rally Championship, Rally GB, is the closest they get to competing on home ground.
It also raises expectations for the Abu Dhabi Citroen pair, who have shown strong pace in the latter half of the season.
Meeke/Nagle, along with their team-mates Mads Ostberg/Jonas Andersson, are hoping to secure second place for the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team in the Manufacturers’ standings.
“It’s the closest I get to a home rally in the WRC. I even took part in my first ever rally, the Bulldog, in these forests,” said Meeke.
“So I know the region very well. I love the atmosphere here, the tradition of the event, even the smell of the mud in the forests. These are some of the most beautiful stages in the world and some of the most difficult as well. You need a car with a perfect set-up, you need grip but you also need precision.
“It would be great to finish the season on a positive note.
“I know I’ll get plenty of support from the many fans who would love to see me win.
“I’m going to do my best to acquire as much experience as possible, but I think that a podium finish is a realistic goal.”
Having clinched back to back titles on the last round in Spain, top seed Sebastien Ogier (VW Polo WRC) wants to enjoy the final round but is aware that his team mate Jari-Matti Latvala will be intent on racking up his third win of the year. Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Fiesta WRC) will make his farewell appearance on the WR scene.
Meanwhile there is a plenty of Irish interest with Derry’s Marty McCormack (Ford Fiesta R5), Tyrone’s Alastair Fisher (Citroen DS3 R3T), Down’s Phillip Morrow (Mitsubishi), Jonny Greer (Citroen DS3 R3T) and Calvin Beattie (Ford Fiesta ST), Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Mitsubishi Evo IX) and Daniel McKenna (Citroen DS3 R3T), Down’s, Dundalk’s Brendan Cumiskey (Subaru WRX STi) and Galwegian Dean Raftery (Ford Fiesta R2).
The battle between Fisher and McKenna could be interesting, Fisher can tie up second spot in the WRC3 category while McKenna, who plans an assault on the WRC 3 series next year will be able to judge his pace.
Today’s loop of stages take in Gartheiniog (14.58km), Dyfi (21.90km), Hafren Sweet Lamb (23.55km) and Maesnant (12.86km).
Racing driver Matt Griffin teams up with Briton Duncan Cameron for the 6 Hour of Rome Gold Cup in Vallelunga. The pair, who finished runners-up in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) will drive their AF Corse run Ferrari 458 Italia in the LMGTE category, the race is quite important to Ferrari.
The Douglas driver completed a two-day test in Dubai earlier this week before returning to his Northampton base and then flew to Italy yesterday. The weekend’s race will be Griffin’s 33rd race of the year. With a new contract offer from Ferrari on the table it is certainly non-stop both on and off the track.
Sunday’s Birr Motor Club’s Autocross in Ballycumber, Co Offaly doubles as a round of the O’Shea Bus Hire Munster Autocross Championship and the Loose Surface Autocross Championship. Clare’s Padraig Egan (JB Buggy) can clinch the Munster series.
Motorsport Ireland has now completed its list of nominees for the Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year award with the addition of two wildcards — Killarney’s Rob Duggan and Monaghan’s Richard Moffett. Late last week, Cavan’s Chris Armstrong was the declared as the final bi-monthly (September-October) nominee. The winner of the Junior category in Valvoline National Forestry Championship (Dunmanway’s Conor McCarthy) was an automatic selection and as the winner of the Junior category of the Dunlop National Rally Championship, Roscommon’s Cormac Phelan, had already gained selection as a bi-monthly winner for May-June, a decision was made to select two wildcard entries. The remaining bi-monthly nominees are Donegal’s Kevin Eves (January-February), Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (March-April) and Galway’s Dean Raftery (July-August).
- The Dunlop National Rally Championship Awards ceremony takes place in the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone tomorrow night.
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