Major innovations for Loughman Memorial Rally

Organisers are stepping up their promotion of the Willie Loughman Memorial Forestry Rally.

Although it will not take place until April 14, their rally guide for the third round of the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship is being launched on the Carrick-on-Suir Motor Club’s website this morning.

Over the last decade, the rally was based in Carrick but this year’s event will move to Waterford city and be based at the Rhu Glenn Country Club Hotel.

The club has also announced a new event sponsor – The rally will feature three stage locations never previously used and will have six stages – three completed twice and three traversed just once. The Slievenamon stage has not been used for seven years will feature in this year’s event.

The average stage mileage for forest event within the Valvoline series is in the region of 55km, however, the Carrick club’s event is offering 100km of action for a fee of €495.

In another innovative move, new competitors or those that specialise in tarmac events, are been offered three for the price of two incentive. The stages are all close to Mullinavat with servicing adjacent to the rally headquarters.

With its close proximity to Rosslare, the event promoters are hoping to attract a strong overseas entry. To promote this aspect, they have taken a stand at next week’s Autosport Show at the NEC in Birmingham to raise the profile. Indeed, given the stage mileage, the event will be the longest one-day forest rally in Ireland and Britain in 2013.

Derry’s Marty McCormack has already signalled his intentions to compete while S2000 World Rally champion Craig Breen will drive one of the 00 cars, the co-driver’s seat is set to be offered as a part of a fundraising scheme.

Meanwhile, Dunlop National Rally champion Brian O’Mahony will not defend his national title. He is one of a number of drivers set to have fewer outings in the year ahead. However, the Valvoline Irish Forest rally series remains a possibility for the Carrigaline driver.

Kerry’s Thomas Fitzmaurice, who finished runner-up in the 2012 Dunlop Championship, has stated he will have a limited campaign in Irish rallying that will begin with the opening round of the Dunlop series in Abbeyleix in late February.

Welsh ace Mel Evans, who won the series in 2011, is considering a return to the national series as are other former champions Aaron MacHale and Patrick Elliott.

Cork driver Daragh O’Riordan will skip the Galway International Rally, the opening round of the Irish Tarmac Championship and will wait until the West Cork Rally in March to make his first appearance of the season.

The Midleton ace admitted he is considering a plan to sell his Subaru S12C. Last year O’Riordan, who won all three County Cork rallies and the Rally of the Lakes, seems intent to contest the remaining rounds of the Tarmac series and end his season with a bid to complete a hat-trick of wins on the Fastnet Rally.

An hour long feature on the 2012 Westlodge Hotel Fastnet Rally that was organised by the Skibbereen and District Car Club will be transmitted on RTÉ 2 at 1.50pm tomorrow.

The programme includes a feature on Bantry Blues GAA club and interviews with triple British Rally champion, Keith Cronin from Ballylickey on board one of the tug boats; Dunlop Rally champion, Brian O’Mahony from Carrigaline and renowned endurance swimmer Steve Redmond.

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