Mayo and District Motorsport Club was out in force as members took to tarmac at The Galway International Rally and to gravel at the Qatar International Rally last weekend.
Conditions were very tough over the weekend in Galway as the stages were saturated from torrential rain on the Friday night but the sun broke through the clouds on Saturday morning and everyone was hopeful the stage conditions would improve. Saturday night/Sunday morning brought heavy frost and with icy roads on both stages the organisers had no option but to cancel the first two stages of the day for safety reasons. This gave the crews an extra chance to check through the notes as they got to drive through the stages at road speed much to the delight of the spectators.
It was last year's Mayo Stages Rally winners Garry Jennings and Rory Kennedy who took the honours in Galway, with Roy White and James O'Brien taking the runner up position, being pushed all the way to the end by Alastair Fisher and Karl Atkinson who were only eight seconds behind.
There was an anxious start for the Mayo crews on the Saturday morning as they know from experience a finish in Galway is a win in itself. The first clubman on the road was Aaron MacHale in the newly acquired Citroen DS3 navigated by Darragh Kelly. They kept up a great pace all day while still learning the new machine. But unfortunately had an incident near the end of SS8 which called a halt to their rally. Andrew Grennan was in the navigator seat for Viv Hamill in the well-equipped Mk2 Escort, and they were entertaining to watch all day as they took home sixth in class 14 and ninth overall in the national standings.
David Mannion navigated for Paul McHugh. The crew kept things neat and tidy throughout the rally taking their Honda Integra Type R to a super runner up spot in class 14 and 17th overall in the national section.
Finishing just four places behind were the all Mayo crew of Sean McHugh and Kathleen Kennedy. They filled the valleys of Galway with the incredible sound from their BMW M3 compact. After a three year absence from competitive rallying, the crew were delighted with their highest result in Galway, coming 21st overall in the national category
Dawn broke over the frosty stages on Sunday morning and it was the juniors time to shine. It would not take long for the stages to heat up as Justin Ryan and Noel Murphy resumed their old battle for young driver honours. Justin Ryan had Lorcan Moore calling the notes in the EK4 Civic. The pair commended the hard work of their service crew on preparing an impeccable car which ran faultlesly all day. They took home a terrific second position in the junior category. Noel Murphy and John Burke were hot on their heels all day in their EG6 Civic, they took a well-deserved third in the junior class.
Duffy impresses in Qatar
Mayo's Killian Duffy had a great result as he navigated for Nasser Al Kuwari at the Qatar International Rally. The pairing kicked up the dust in what turned out to be a battle of endurance. Misfortune struck them on day one with a couple of punctures and a fault with the anti-lag. However the 10-year-old car had the luck of the Irish on its side and brought the crew home to an incredible second place overall. It is super to see what an almost standard car could achieve in the right hands.