On the cusp of landing a national title at the very first attempt, Maguire needed only to shadow his more seasoned rival Sean Flanagan (Subaru) when they crossed swords at the recent Fastnet Rally in Skibbereen.
However, Maguire (21) let the title slip from his grasp when he went over maximum lateness on the very first stage. Maguire assumed he was entitled to additional time to rectify an intercom problem as a safety precaution. However, this was not the case and he and co-driver Paul Kelly were excluded from the race.
It was a chastening experience and a valuable lesson early in Maguire’s young career. On Sunday’s Banna Beach Hotel Rally in Kerry, he has the opportunity to gain some consolation by clinching the popular regional Top Part West Coast Rally Championship.
He arrives in Kerry a few points behind his non-competing father Niall and nine ahead of Neil Pierce (Honda), so requires just 10 of the maximum 20 points on offer to claim the title.
Maguire will face strong competition from local top seed Thomas Fitzmaurice (Mitsubishi), who is well capable of victory, as is Wexford’s Thomas Stafford (Darrian), who lost out in a thrilling final stage dice with Keith Cronin (Mitsubishi) on last year’s encounter.
Another local, Mike Quinn (Ford Escort), will have his sights on being the top modified finisher, a prize that offers free entry into next year’s event along with the club’s premier event, the Circuit of Kerry.
Without the shackles of any championship bid, Sean Flanagan (Subaru) will be able to go on maximum attack with regular service team member Diarmuid French occupying his co-driver’s seat. Flanagan’s Subaru is the car that Castleisland’s Alan Ring took to victory in the Dunlop series a few years ago.
On Sunday Ring will pilot his Mitsubishi and should be another contender for victory. Also among the top ten seeds are Donegal’s Stuart Darcy (Mitsubishi), Limerick’s Ed Synan (Ford Escort) and the Clare pair Terence O’Shaughnessy (Ford Escort) and Alan O’Callaghan (Subaru).
There will be another interesting tussle between Cork’s Cal McCarthy (Honda Civic) and Kevin O’Connor from Limerick (Citroen C2R2), who are battling for the top award in the Junior category of the West Coast series. Based at the Banna Beach Hotel, the first stage begins at 11.30am with the second test skirting Ardfert.
The Wales Rally GB this weekend will see the end of an era for World Rally Car. The Ford Focus RS car will end its 12-year career with both Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen gunning for victory. The car has provided Ford with two manufacturers’ world titles and 44 rally wins.
With Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) already crowned champion for an eighth time, the runner-up position is between Sebastian Ogier (167 points), Jari-Matti Latvala (156 points) and Petter Solberg (151 points). Meanwhile, American Ken Block will start in a replacement Focus after wrecking his car in a test.
Craig Breen in his Kick Energy Ford Fiesta S2000 is the top Irish entry. Fresh from his selection as one of the drivers for the WRC 2011 Academy, Breen will aim to improve on his outing in Rally Finland earlier in the season where he finished 19th overall.
Wexford’s Eamonn Boland (Mitsubishi) and his Waterford co-driver, MJ Morrissey start from the number 65 berth. Irish co-drivers involved are Chris Patterson (Petter Solberg, Citroen), Michael Orr (Khalid Al Qassimi, Ford Focus), Stephen McAuley (Bader Al Jabri, Ford Fiesta) and Alistair Wylie (Tom Clark, Suzuki Swift). Following last evening’s spectator stage, the three-stage loop (repeated twice) of Hafren, Sweet Lamb and Myherin is the location for today’s action.
Other events over the weekend include the Leinster Sporting Trial at Boleynass, Ashford, Co. Wicklow at 11.30 tomorrow. The National Navigation Trial Championship third round will be staged in Newbliss , Monaghan, at 10pm tomorrow night.
On Sunday, the IKC are holding kart races at Collon, Co. Louth and the Northeast Motor Club’s Autocross at Latton Quarry near Cootehill starts at 11am.