The Safety Direct Galway International Rally 2011 takes place this weekend from Friday February 4, to Sunday February 6, with a number of events taking place to mark its 40th anniversary.
The village of Oranmore is expected to come alive with a free family Rally Festival. The ceremonial start takes place in the heart of the village tomorrow at 7.30pm with music on the stage by All-Ireland Talent Show finalists Jack’s Angels and friends from 6pm.
Headquarters for the event is the Clayton Hotel in Ballybrit. The rally service park for Saturday and Sunday will be in the Oran Precast premises in Oranmore where the cars and teams will be based. Sunday evening will see the winning crews return to Oranmore for the finishing ceremony from approximately 4pm when Jack’s Angels again provide entertainment. Admission to all events is free and there will be the opportunity to avail of face painting, family entertainment, and the chance for photos and autographs.
This year’s event will be the 40th anniversary of the first Galway International Rally which took place in 1971. This year is also the 21st anniversary of the Galway Historic Rally. To honour the occasion, Galway Motor Club intends to highlight the historical aspect of the event in 2011 by running the Historic Rally cars ahead of the main field on selected stages of the event.
The route on Saturday consists of three loops of stages in the Woodlawn and Monivea areas of east Galway. The route on Sunday comprises two loops of stages in the Headford area.
Entries have been received from all over the world. Vincente Frontinan, originally from the Azores but living in Boston will compete in the historic section of the rally in a Mini Cooper S. He will be joined by Boston based Galwayman Frank Cunningham driving a Mark 1 Escort. Mr Cunningham has rallied extensively in the United States and Europe. In 2010, he entered events in Italy and Belgium. Also making the trip across the Atlantic will be Donegal born Seamus Burke in an Escort RS 1800. Mr Burke is a North American rally champion and is expected to very competitive in Galway. Making the trip from New York are Martin Donnelly, Liam Egan, and Enda McCormack, while the top historic driver is James Sutherland from Chesterfield, co driven by Paul Wakely from Wales.
The leading drivers are expected to come from the top seeds of the event. Tim McNulty from Meath and Kevin Barrett from Kildare are both driving powerful Subaru World Rally Cars. While they will have a power advantage, the tight and often slippery Galway roads can suit the modern Group N cars of Circuit of Ireland Rally winner Derek McGarrity from Antrim, Kerry rally driver Alan Ring, and Galway’s Ross Forde, all driving Mitsubishi Evo cars.
Gary Leonard, Galway Motor Club clerk of the course, has confirmed that in the region of 75 cars will start the event. A souvenir rally programme is now available at the rally headquarters at the Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit, and at various other outlets listed on the rally website, www.galway internationalrally.ie. The programme costs €12 and contains official ordnance survey maps of all 15 stages of the rally and full timings of when to see both the historic and the international rallies. The glossy publication contains the complete entry lists and interesting articles on this the 40th anniversary rally. With the information contained in the official programme, it is possible to spectate at up to six stages of the rally each day. Admission is free at all spectator points.
The event timetable is as follows: Friday February 4 - scrutiny at OranPrecast premises, Oranmore, from 2pm to 6pm - ceremonial start with free family entertainment, Oranmore town centre, at 7.30pm; Saturday February 5 - service park at OranPrecast, 11am and 2pm; Sunday February 6 - service park at OranPrecast, 9am and 12 noon; Sunday, February 6 - rally finish in Oranmore town centre at 3.30pm.
Further information can be found on the event website: www.galway internationalrally.com