A capacity 115 teams will compete in this year’s Safety Direct Galway International Rally which takes place on Saturday and Sunday.
The event is the first in Galway to support “The Gathering 2013” initiative, bringing an early season boost to visitor numbers to Galway city and county.
The event enjoys its traditional ceremonial start in Eyre Square on Saturday at 8pm, following afternoon scrutineering of cars at MotorPark, Terryland, from 2pm, which is an ideal opportunity to see the rally cars and drivers prior to the start of the competition.
Headquarters for the event is the Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit, Galway, while the rally route covers eight closed road stages in east Galway on Sunday. Sunday evening will see the ceremonial finish in Ballinasloe town centre at 5pm.
The top seeds are last year’s winners and 2012 Tarmac Rally Champions, Darren Gass from Armagh and co-driver Enda Sherry. He will be followed off the start ramp by Derek McGarrity from Belfast, triple British Rally champion Keith Cronin from Cork, and Garry Jennings from Enniskillen.
The highest seeded local crews are JJ Fleming from Salthill in his Ford Focus World Rally Car, co-driven by Robbie Ward from Loughrea at number 8; Tom Flaherty from Circular Road at 12 in his Escort Mk2; and Eamon Dervan from Loughrea at 18, also in an Escort. Loughrea’s Neil Pierce, in a Honda, starts at 22.
Galway entries in the Historic Car section include Ray Cunningham from Carnmore in a Mini Cooper, James Power from Loughrea in an Escort Mk1, and Pat Neville from Taylor’s Hill in a Volvo 142. The Galway competitors will be competing for the prestigious Brian Thornton Memorial Cup.
The Safety Direct Galway International Rally, sanctioned by the FIA, is also supported by the Road Safety Authority of Ireland which leads the ‘Keep the Race in its Place’ campaign.
The organisers are eager to remind everyone of the need to drive safely at all times, and all competing cars will carry this logo and message.
A comprehensive traffic management plan has been put in place with the support of the Gardai, and Victor Farrell, clerk of the course, encourages fans travelling to the International Rally to heed this message and 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.
The nominated charity for the 2013 Safety Direct Galway International Rally is ACT for Meningitis. The charity’s volunteers will be promoting awareness at various locations along the route and all support will be much appreciated.
Official rally programmes, containing full listings of stage times, service area times, detailed route maps and spectator access points, cost €10 and are available from Safety Direct at Riverside Commercial Estate, Tuam Road, Galway; the Clayton Hotel; and from filling stations, newsagents and outlets in the city and county listed on the rally website www.galway internationalrally.com
And this year’s event will have extensive television coverage. TG4 will broadcast two 30 minute programmes devoted to the event during February, while Motors TV will have a one hour programme on its satellite channel, available across Europe on Friday February 22 at 9pm. In another first for the rally, the progress of the event will be covered on the smart phone App “iRally”, and on its website.
Admission to all events is free over the weekend.
Safety Direct Galway International Rally Timetable
Saturday 2nd February 2pm Scrutiny at Motorpark, Terryland.
Saturday 2nd February 8pm Ceremonial start in Eyre Square.
Sunday 3rd February 9am Eight special stages in East Galway.
Sunday 3rd February 5pm Finish in Ballinasloe Town Centre.
Sunday 3rd February 7pm Prizegiving at Clayton Hotel, Galway.