The countdown to the 2015 Hotel Ballina – Kennedy Motors Mayo Stages Rally is firmly on following a successful launch at Hotel Ballina, headquarters for the March 8th event. A large crowd was in attendance on Friday night last to hear information about this year’s rally from a selection of speakers, including Clerk of the Course Padraic Roche and Chairman of Mayo & District Motorsport Club Matthew Murphy, who thanked all the sponsors that have made the running of the 2015 Mayo Stages Rally possible.
Among those attending was Andrew Mullen, sponsor of the Sligo Pallets Border Rally Championship, of which the Mayo Stages is the opening round, Brendan Flynn representing the Border Rally Championships, and Joe Corcoran from Motorsport Ireland. Local representatives included members of An Garda Síochána, members of Ballina Chamber of Commerce and local county councillors, founding Ballina Motorclub members and representatives from all the event sponsors.
Continuing on from the success of last year’s events in Ballina Town Centre, the rally festival with an array of entertainment returns on the Saturday evening. This kicks off at 5.30pm in the Market Square featuring a Rally School Ireland display, F1 Pit stop challenge, Mattie Griffin Freestyle Motorcycle Display, display of Rally Cars from 8pm and much more family entertainment.
The 2015 Mayo Stages Rally is continuing the high standard of previous years with news and information available to rally fans. In order to keep competitors and spectators as informed and up-to-date as possible, Mayo & District Motorsport Club utilizes a range of communication tools in the build up to, and during rally week-end. The Club is already providing regular updates via its Twitter account MayoMotorClub and Facebook page Mayo Motorsport Club. Also on the Sunday of the event when the rally itself roars into action, regular live updates and interviews will be broadcast on Mid West Radio’s Sunday Sports Show. www.midwestradio.ie & 96.1fm
Tyrone’s Paddy McVeigh in the ex-Patrick Elliott S12B Subaru WRC is the top seed for Sunday’s Rally which has attracted more than 100 entries. His main rival through the nine stages is likely to be former triple national champion Niall Maguire. The Monaghan man at No. 2 campaigns an S11 Subaru WRC and finished a fine third at Birr Stages Rally two weeks ago. Frank Way also in a Subaru World Rally Car rounds off the top 3.
Elsewhere, former national champion Aaron MacHale in a Mitsubishi Evo 9 spearheads the Group N challenge, where the opposition includes current Group N national champion Shane Maguire, Trevor Bustard and Pat Kirk, also in Mitsubishi Evo 9’s. The top 10 is completed by the two-wheel drive cars of Jonathan Pringle, Damien Toner and Pat Donegan. Others worth noting on the entry list are Monahan’s David Moffett in a Toyota Starlet, Daniel Conaghan from Donegal in his mk2 Escort, Antrim’s Fintan McGrady also in a Mk2 and Raymond Conlon from Galway in his immaculate Toyota Corolla.
Top Local seed at No. 20 is Shane Buckley from Ballyhaunis in his Honda Civic, closely followed by South Mayo based, Killala native Colin Loughney, who actually grew up overlooking Stage 1 from the backdoor of his family home!
Belmullet’s Shane Barry is calling the notes for No. 33, Pauric McGee from Donegal. Ballaghadreen’s Derek Bolton is top Class 15 seed starting No. 38. Knockmore’s Kenneth McHale and Derek McCarthy are next local crew up, starting at No. 41. Castlebar’s Barry Cuffe has his Obsessions’ backed Escort at No. 44. Event Co-sponsor Ciaran Kennedy of Kennedy Motors starts his Honda Civic at 48. Crossmolina’s John Duffy and John Egan have No. 60 on the doors of their Honda Integra. Mayo Club chairman Matthew Murphy has his brother Ronan alongside in his Toyota Corolla and start at 62.
Justin Ryan has a change of navigator for the Mayo Stages Rally as regular navigator Andy Walsh is caught up with Club PRO duties for the day. Westport pairing of David Healy and Stephen McGing start their Honda Civic at 77, one place behind is the Ballina crew of Tony Langdon and Eddie Quinn. Another native from around the stages is Michael Loughney, who, in his stunning orange Escort Mk2 starts 79.
Current Mayo young driver Champion Noel Murphy has his Honda Civic at 82. Crossmolina father and son team, Ronan and Lorcan Moore start at 92. Local girl Trisha Greavy hopes to repeat last year’s solid run behind the wheel of her Honda Civic at 93. Stephen Kelly and Jared Gill start at 94 in a Mk2 Escort. Ballina’s Martin McGinnis is on the notes for Galway postman Michael Feeney who makes a return to tarmac rallying. Martin Cawley and Kenneth Langan, in their Peugeot 205 are No. 97. Aubrey Carson and Mary McAndrew are one place behind in their Nova. Raymond Carroll with Crystal Culkeen on the notes starts at 99. Former young driver champion Brian Lavelle from Achill returns to rallying in his recently purchased Honda Civic at 100.
Another father and son team, the two Patrick’s, snr and jnr, McEveney from Castlebar are 101. Castlebar’s Padraig Conneely and Liam Walsh bring their corolla to the stages at No. 103. David Moran from Westport has Ballyhaunis man Robert Culliney alongside at 104 in their Citroen Saxo, while the Foxford pairing of Stephen Doherty and Alan Moran are 105 in their Opel Kadett.
The action gets underway when the cars leave Parc Ferme at Hotel Ballina on Sunday morning at 9am, heading to the first of 9 competitive stages in the Lacken, Kilalla area.
For spectators intending to visit the Mayo Stages rally next weekend, plenty of time should be allowed to get to the stages to park and find a safe viewing location, as some of the stages have only limited access. Always obey the marshals and follow their instructions, as they are there to ensure that everyone has a safe day’s rallying. A Rally Programme with a detailed map and times will be available to purchase in the area costing €5.