THE launch of the Carlow Stages Rally took place in the Seven Oaks last week. Having been a navigator for the late Bagenalstown-based rally drive Enda Nolan, it was no surprise when Michael Lyster once again dropped in to offer his support for what is the third round of the Triton Showers National Championship. The race also doubles up for a round of the South East Suirway Group rally. The Ford Escort MK II Challenge is again included this year.
Another guest was Alistair Fisher who is the nephew of the late, legendary Bertie Fisher. Alistair had been competing on the world stage but is back racing in Ireland again.
Clerk of the Course for this year is Ken Tracey who retired from racing in 2015. He has now thrown himself into the organisational side of things. Not that he was ever that far from a range of different committee posts but his expertise and immense knowledge will be a major asset for the race which takes place on Sunday May 8.
“I have been involved in rallies for so long that I said I would do Clerk of the Course,” he said.
“I have a good team of lads behind me. It wouldn’t happen without them.”
At the launch the club held a raffle which raised €500 for local charity Éist.
The prize for the winner was a free entry to the rally which would normally cost €680. William Cecil from Wexford, a member of the Carlow club, was the winner.
The rally will consist of three by three loops over 110 kilometres. On Saturday race notes will be made available to the drivers and navigators. From that point they will be allowed to inspect and drive the course at normal legal speed limits. Programmes for the event for spectators and supporters will be available in local shops on Friday.
Parc Fermé is on Burrinside where cars will be stored before the race and then inspected before the off. One of the service points is just off the Sleaty Road in Graiguecullen but on race day drivers will depart from Parc Fermé straight to the IT Carlow for a final service before proceeding to the first stage at Bagenalstown.
With a top class field including drivers from the north of Ireland and Wales, the day promises to be an exciting and eventful occasion.
From a local point of view Paul Doyle goes in the Mark 2 Challenge but there should be strong performances from a host of other drivers including David Condell and Sam Smith.
Prize giving will take place on Sunday evening in the Seven Oaks Hotel who are sponsoring the rally.