Mike Bird and Kevin Keane are top Galway crew for Galway rally

The 2009 Safety Direct Galway International Rally gets under way on Friday January 16 with more than 40 local Galway crews on the entry list.

The rally begins with a ceremonial start at 8pm in Eyre Square on Friday 16. The top 20 entrants and the top three Galway cars and drivers will be waved off the start ramp by the Mayor of Galway city.

Mike Bird and Kevin Keane in a Subaru Impreza WRC at number 20 will be the first local crew over the ramp, with Tom Curley and Aidan Mannion next at number 29 in a Mitsubishi EVO 9. Tom Flaherty and Patrick Curley round off the top three in a Ford Escort Mk 2 at number 38.

The top 10 entries show some of the best competitors in Irish motorsport. Eamon Boland will begin the defence of his Tarmac Chamionship title, while former champions Eugene Donnelly, Derek McGarrity, and Austin MacHale are also on the entry list. The MacHales will make it a family affair with Gareth and Aaron also set to compete over the weekend.

Conrad Rautenbach from France is entered at number 1, while Aaron Burkhart from Germany is at number 2. Both are regular competitors in the World Rally Championship.

The first of 17 demanding stages over two days begins near Abbeyknockmoy on Saturday morning. Centralised service for the competing cars will be based in the Deerpark Industrial Estate, Oranmore for the weekend. Official rally programmes and maps will be on sale in a number of local shops around Galway.

Further updates will be available on www.galwayinternationalrally.com

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