Mourne Rally makes Slieve Gullion return

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

THE Mourne Rally will return to Slieve Gullion and Camlough Wood stages this weekend - a compact route popular with Newry-based competitors, writes William Neill.
As the Newry Democrat goes to print the Northern Ireland championship counter has 40 entries scheduled to go over the start ramp at Modern Tyre Service, Carnbane Industrial Estate on Saturday at 8.30am. And with entries being accepted up to Friday it is expected championship leaders Derek McGarrity and James McKee will be on the starters' list.
The running order is yet to be finalised, but Jim Feenan's Ford Escort Cosworth WRC is expected to be the first Newry-based car on the road.
The entry comes after the kart-racing provider lent his car to fellow Newry competitor and former Mourne Rally winner Peadar Hurson for the Monaghan Rally where it was brought to second despite ageing technology. Newry Motor Club member Barry McParland will guide Feenan from the passenger seat. Jim's son Gareth will also compete, but in a two-wheel-drive version Escort.
Paul Mulholland - another member of the organising club - will co-drive for David Armstrong, after the pair took second in class at Tour of the Sperrins last month.
Despite no confirmed co-driver Newtownhamilton's William Armstrong will be in a Ford Escort Mk2. John Gordon is in a similar situation with his Escort after fifth in class at his Loughgall Country Park Rally outing.
Andrew Patterson won his class at the last Newry club event at Clady Quarries. The G3-version Escort driver will be hopeful he can mix with the C6 competitors this weekend.
Chris Simms and Chris Hazley will be looking for a less dramatic outing compared to the Circuit of Ireland where mechanical issues plagued the pair on the final stage.
Current Group N championship leaders, Geoff McMahon and Robert Graham from Markethill will count the Mourne Rally as their local round.
Paddy Quinn has entered his Mk1-version Escort into C3, and Castlewellan's Malcolm Johnston will return to the stages in his 1400cc Skoda Felica.
The first stage will be in Camlough Wood at 9.13am before two separate stages at the Slieve Gullion drive will form the second and third tests. Wee Gullion starts at 9.30am with the first car expected on Big Gullion 10 minutes later.
Then all the cars head back to the city's Carnbane Industrial Estate for service at 10.15am - a chance to see the cars up close and meet the drivers. Teams will work on cars in the same location from 12.07pm, 2pm, 3.40pm and 5.15pm.
The Camlough and Gullion stages will be repeated twice to form stages four to nine before organisers reverse the route and join the two Gullion drives for stages ten and 12. The last chance to see the cars at high speed will be the reversed Camlough stage at 5pm.
The winner will be presented with a trophy at the Sheep Bridge Inn after finish ramp proceedings at 5.26pm.
A detailed schedule and a map of the 44-mile long competitive route can be downloaded free of charge from the Newry Motor Club website, Organisers wish to remind spectators to watch from high ground and not to stand close too the edge of the road or on the outside of corners.
In other rally news former Irish champion Darren Gass has entered the Donegal International Rally - his first event this year. He will use a left-hand-drive S12b Subaru Impreza arriving from Belgium.

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