Galway International Rally

Last year's winners and No 1 seeds this weekend, Garry Jennings and Rory Kennedy.

Last year's winners and No 1 seeds this weekend, Garry Jennings and Rory Kennedy.

The 2017 Corrib Oil Galway International Rally takes place this weekend with a capacity entry.

Organiser, the Galway Motor Club, confirms more than 100 teams from Germany, China and America, in addition to numerous UK and Irish crews, will be taking to the county roads for this traditional sporting event which is estimated to generate approximately €5m for the local economy.

The rally, which has retained its full weekend format, gets under way with scrutineering of cars at the Galway Race Course from 2pm, followed by a ceremonial start in Eyre Square tomorrow (Friday ) at 8pm - ideal opportunities to see the rally cars and drivers prior to the start of the competition.

Headquarters is the Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit, Galway. The rally route covers nine closed road stages on Saturday, and another six on Sunday. The service park will be in Athenry Mart on Saturday and in the old sugar facility at Airglooney, Tuam on Sunday. The rally concludes on Sunday evening with the ceremonial finish back at Clayton Hotel from approximately 3.30pm. Admission to all events is free.

Leading entries

All cars have been seeded by the organisers with the rally winner expected to come from one of the top 20. Last year’s winners, Garry Jennings from Fermanagh and Rory Kennedy in a Subaru WRC, are seeded No 1, followed by Declan Boyle from Donegal, with his cousin Brian Boyle co-driving, in a Fiesta WRC.

The entry also includes 10 of the new generation R5 rally cars which featured strongly in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. Overall winner Josh Moffett from Monaghan, is seeded fourth, just behind another young talent Alastair Fisher from Enniskillen, in addition to Sam Moffett, Robert Barrable, Jonathan Greer and Joe McGonigle .

Entries from outside Ireland include Kai Dieter Kolle from Germany in a Porsche Carrera, Andreas Dahms in another Porsche, and Scotland’s George Gass, also in a Porsche. Barry McKenna from the USA drives a MK2 Escort, while Welshmen Tom Davies and Gareth Lloyd drive an R5 and MK2 Escort respectively.

There will be keen interest from Galway drivers as always. Members of Galway Motor Club will vie for the Brian G Thornton Memorial Cup. Top seed is Knocknacarra’s Eugene Meehan with co-driver Sarah Whelan in a BMW 1M.

Safety first

Clerk of the course, Kieran Donohue, says the Galway Motor Club is eager to remind everyone of the need to drive safely at all times. “Hence the message “Keep the Race in its Place’’. All competing cars will carry this logo and message, and extensive signage to promote this road safety message will be visible.”

He is urging encourages fans to heed the message, to slow down, never drink and drive, and to always wear a seatbelt.

“All spectators on the closed road stages must obey the marshals at all times as they will be implementing a comprehensive safety plan. A traffic management plan has been put in place with the support of the Garda.

“The club is indebted to the staff of Galway county and city councils, An Garda Siochana, Failte Ireland, the Road Safety Authority, the directors and staff of Corrib Oil, the 300 volunteer marshals from all over Ireland, and most of all the residents along the route for their assistance with temporary road closures to ensure the safe running of the event.”

Traffic diversions

There will be temporary road closures on certain roads in north and east county Galway on Saturday and Sunday. All road closures will be clearly signposted and marshalled. All residents have been informed of the times and road closure arrangements, 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 racecourse on Friday and Sunday afternoons; at the Clayton Hotel; and in Athenry during Saturday, and Tuam during Sunday.

Galway Motor Club has chosen Blood Bike West as its charity partner for the rally. Blood Bike West delivers essential urgent medical supplies, out of hours, between hospitals, healthcare sites and laboratories free of charge.

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