The service halt for the event on Sunday, October 30 will be in the town square, which is set to provide a great atmosphere akin to the Ypres Rally in Belgium. The event will count as a round of the Southern 4 Rally Championship and will feature eight stages, with the competitors returning to town for service breaks.
“Firstly, we have been made very welcome in Bantry, the enthusiasm shown by the Bantry Business Association (BBA) and others is very refreshing,” said clerk of the course Ger Hayes.
“I think it’s a partnership that the Skibbereen and District Car Club and the BBA can achieve their aims — that, in our case, is principally to host a safe and enjoyable rally and one that will promote Bantry in the best possible fashion.”
Since its inception in 1982, when it was based in Schull, the rally has been in Skibbereen for two periods and in Glandore for almost 20 years, when it was headquartered at the Marine Hotel. During that time it gained inclusion in the National Rally Championship.
Remarkably, just three drivers outside Ireland have won the Fastnet. England’s Jim Harrison broke the Irish dominance in 2004, Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen came out on top in 2007 and last year Dunlop champion Mel Evans of Wales took the laurels.
Meanwhile, the Raven’s Rock Rally, the fifth round of the Dunlop series and also a counting round of the Triton Showers South East Championship and the Southern 4 series, will be based in Kilkenny, with HQ at the Kilford Arms hotel.
On the competitive front, the third round of the Top Part West Coast Rally Championship, the Adare-based Woodland’s House Hotel Circuit of Munster, goes ahead on Sunday with Cork driver Denis Cronin (Subaru WRC) heading the 140-plus entry. In addition, there are 17 crews in the combined Junior and Historic categories.
The nine stages (3x3) are in the Broadford/Tournafulla region with servicing in Abbeyfeale. Following his fine display last year, local driver Eamonn Daly (Mitsubishi) will fancy his chances of giving Cronin a good battle in County Limerick.
Banteer’s Barry Meade (Escort), Limerick’s Ed O’Callaghan (Escort) and Kerry’s Mike Quinn (Escort) will all be seeking a top result in an intriguing two-wheel drive category.
Shane Maguire (Subaru), Ed Synan (Escort), Eamonn Hanley (Subaru WRC), Brian O’Keeffe (Subaru) and Vincent O’Shea (Escort Cosworth) complete the top 10.
Elsewhere, Mark Sheahan, Kevin O’Connor and Scott McElhinney, all in Citroen C2R2s, are also competing.
Series leader Niall Maguire is absent, thus allowing drivers such as Mike Quinn, Richard Burke, Andrew Slattery and David Percy the opportunity to improve their respective positions. Defending champion Shane Maguire (Subaru) is equal sixth at present but still capable of a successful title defence as the series allows the best four scores from six events.
The Modern Tyres Mourne Rally, round five of the Hankook Tyres Northern Ireland Rally Championship, has current leader Kenny McKinstry (Subaru WRC) heading a strong entry that also includes former champion George Robinson (Subaru WRC), Neil McCance (Mitsubishi) and the Subaru WRC trio of Stuart Biggerstaff, John McGaffin and Emma McKinstry as its top seeds.
The two-wheel drive category has Michael Conlon, Damien Toner, Declan Boyle, David Armstrong and Alastair Cochrane all battling for honours.
Also tomorrow, Limerick driver Joe Shinnors and his Cork co-driver Derry Healy compete in the Severn Valley Rally in Wales.
The Bruff native will drive the 1400cc Vauxhall Nova he regularly campaigns with in the Irish Forest series.
The Welsh outing is to try something different, Shinnors competed in a rallysprint in New Zealand in 2007 and with tomorrow’s stages in Wales previously used on Rally GB, it is the primary attraction.
Based at Builth Wells, Tom Cave (Mitsubishi) is the top seed, Wug Utting (Subaru N12) is also amongst the entry.
The next Endurance Motorcycle Racing at Mondello Park will be in September, following the postponement of this weekend’s racing that will allow interested competitors more time to prepare their machines for long-distance racing.