Galway is gearing up for its big weekend of motor rallying when the annual Colm Quinn BMW Galway International Rally gets under way tomorrow.
The organising Galway Motor Club has confirmed a capacity entry for this year’s event with teams coming from Germany, Austria, Australia, and America, in addition to numerous British and Irish crews.
Always regarded as a top event on the Galway sporting calendar, the Galway International Rally also provides a welcome early season boost to the city and county. And this year an expected 2,000 bed nights for hotels and guest houses will help to create a €5m spend for the local economy.
The event gets under way with the ceremonial start in Eyre Square tomorrow at 8pm following afternoon scrutineering at the Colm Quinn BMW Showrooms on the Tuam Road from 2pm - both of which provide ideal opportunities to see the rally cars and drivers up close.
Headquarters for the event is the Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit, Galway, while the rally route will cover six closed road stages on Saturday and another eight on Sunday. Gort Mart will be the rally service point each day.
The rally concludes on Sunday evening with the ceremonial finish at the Colm Quinn premises at Tuam Road from approximately 3.30pm. Admission to all events is free over the weekend.
Seeded number 1 in this year’s event is the current Irish Tarmac rally champion, Declan Boyle from Donegal, with his cousin Brian Boyle co-driving a Subaru WRC car. He will be followed at two by Gary Jennings from Fermanagh and Rory Kennedy, also in a Subaru WRC.
The number three seed is Eugene Donnelly from Maghera, co-driven by Paul Kiely, driving one of two Mini WRC rally cars entered by the event sponsor, Colm Quinn. Donnelly, a previous winner, has finished second twice in his car.
The number six seed is the identical Mini WRC of young Dean Raftery from Craughwell, the winner of the Young Driver of the year award in 2014 by Motorsport Ireland.
Among the entries from outside of Ireland are number 29, Kai Dieter Kolle from Germany in a Porsche Carrera, and Mohram Islam from Austria at number 77 in a Fiat. John Coyne makes the trip from Canada to take part in the historic event in a Talbot Sunbeam, while Adrian Kermode from the Isle of Man contests the event in his Porsche.
Leading local entries
Members of Galway Motor Club taking part in the event will contest the prestigious Brian G Thornton Memorial Cup. The top seeded Galway crews are: Pat Kelly and Jonathan Kelly in a Subaru STI; Neil Peirce and Enda O’Leary, Loughrea, in a Honda; Richard Whelan and David Mannion in a Honda; Maurice Greaney and Keith McHugh, driving a Mitsubishi EVO9; and Stephen Greaney and Kieran Feeney in an Escort MK2.
Kieran Donohue, clerk of the course, is encouraging fans travelling to the eally to heed the message from the organisers to ‘Keep the Race in its Place’, to slow down, never drink and drive, and always wear a seatbelt.
All competing cars will carry this logo and message, and extensive signage to promote this road safety message will be visible.
All spectators on the closed road stages are asked to obey the marshals at all times, while a traffic management plan has been put in place with the support of the Gardai.
Temporary road closures will be in place on certain roads in south county Galway on Saturday and Sunday. All will be clearly sign posted and marshalled, and the details have been advertised by Galway County Council.
There will also be additional traffic in the Eyre Square area from 7pm to 9pm tomorrow to facilitate the ceremonial start, in the vicinity of the Colm Quinn premises on the Tuam Road on Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, and in Gort during Saturday and Sunday.
Nominated Galway charity
Galway Motor Club has chosen a Galway-based community-led organisation, Domestic Violence Response as its charity partner. The aim of DVR is to identify and respond to the issue of domestic violence in Galway, respond to the needs of women and children affected, and to work towards the elimination of domestic violence.
The official rally programme contains full listings of stage times, service area times, detailed ordnance survey route maps and spectator access points.
For more information visit www.galway internationalrally.com.