TOP PART ROUND 1 PREVIEW BY DERMOT KELLEHER
TOP PART WEST COAST RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2019 PREVIEW
Welcome to this Weekend's Abbeyleix Manor Hotel Stages Rally, Round 1 of the West Coast Rally Championship. The Top Part West Coast Committee would like to wish The Clerk of the Course for this weekend's event Bill Ryan, his organising team and all the competitors a safe and enjoyable event. To all Spectators and Rally Fans please obey the Marshalls at all times as they are there for your safety and the safety of the competitors. Rallying is a high speed sport, please respect it and its dangers and always remember to "KEEP THE RACE IN ITS PLACE"
2019 marks the 26th. year of sponsorship of the West Coast Rally Championship by the Top Part Group, and makes it the longest standing sponsorship of a championship in irish rallying history. The Top Part Group under MD Mr. Donie Dillane have been sponsoring the championship since it was formed back 1993.
This years 2019 Championship will consist of six Rounds starting in Abbeyleix on February 24th. and concludes in Clare on September 15th. Competitors are required to start 3 events to qualify with their best 4 results counting towards the final results.
Competitors who start the first 4 rounds will recieve one starter point. Competitors who start the final two rounds,The Galway Summer Stages and The Clare Stages will recieve two starters point. All starters points will count for the final results.
Awards will be presented to 1st, 2nd and 3rd Overall (1st overall will receive the Michael Farrell memorial trophy memorial trophy), Highest placed Group N, Highest placed 2wheel drive, Highest placed Junior, Historic Award, 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Class. The Pat Dowling memorial Shield will be awarded to the winning co-driver in class 12, A merit award may be presented at the desecration of the organising committee Competitors can only win one award in overalls or classes.
A Registration Fee of 20 euro per crew will apply for this year's Championship..
The 2019 Championship rounds
1. 24-02-19 Birr Stages Rally
2. 07-04-19 Kerry Stages Rally
3. 02-06-19 Circuit of Munster Stages Rally
4. 14-07-19 Sligo Stages Rally
5. 25-08-19 Galway Summer Stages Rally
6. 15-09-19 Clare Stages Rally
NEW INCENTIVES INTRODUCED FOR THE 2019 CHAMPIONSHIP
The Top Part West Coast Rally Championship are to reward competitors with bonus points for 2019.
The idea is to reward competitors for committing to the championship on a two round basis.
The 6 round championship will be devided into 3 groups with 2 rounds in each group.
Birr & Kerry
Limerick & Connacht
Galway & Clare
When competitors start the two events in each Group they will receive 3 bonus points in both their overall and class positions.
Maximum number of bonus points that can be scored is 9 points in both classes and overall positions .
The more groups of events started the more bonus points gained.
Also returning for 2019 is the Top Part Team Award .
To create a bit of fun with in the championship .
Teams will consist of 3 crews per team
Points will be marked in the overall standings for each team crew from 50 points down to 1 point .
The Best Scores on 4 of the 6 events to count .
The Team with the highest number of points at the year end wins the Championship Team Award for 2019.
There will also be a Special award for the most unusual and appropriately Named Team in the Championship ...
All Top Part Drive of the Day winners on each event will receive Awards on the finish ramp and will go forward to the Drive of the Championship Selection at the year end Awards Night with a Top Part Voucher for the Drive of the Championship winning crew.
All registered crews after Round 3 The Circuit of Munster Stages Rally will be entered into a draw complements of the Top Part Group.
1st Prize is an Entry worth 750 euro paid by Top Part for the Connacht Stages Rally 2019 .
2nd Prize is a 300 euro voucher from Top Part towards an entry on the Connacht Stages Rally 2019
Terms and conditions apply Re PR and photos at the Top Part Store in Sligo.
So this prize is non transferable and 2 reserves will also be drawn should the winners be unable to attend the Connacht Stages Rally 2019.
An exciting 2018 Championship saw the title battle go down to the wire on the final round in Clare.
Despite retiring their Ford Escort MK2 on the second last stage with a broken diff, Kerry Crew Mike Quinn / Tony Healy secured the 2018 Top Part West Coast Rally Championship Title on The Final Round of the Championship, "The Charlie McEnery Motor Services Clare Stages Rally". The Kingdom duo were delighted to take the Top Part Title back to its Ancestral home in Kerry where it all began back in 1993. This is Mike's second Top Part Title having already won it back in 2011 with Clare's Grainne McEnery calling the notes.
The Kerry crew competed on all six rounds of the series and got their 2018 Championship off to a great start on the Opening Round by winning the "Top Part Drive of the Day" and the fastest two wheel drive in Nenagh. The Kingdom pair revelled in the very damp and tricky conditions and finished 13th overall and moved into 5th in the Top Part Series, behind event winners Roy White / James O'Brien who had also registered for the series. On Round Two, their home event in Kerry the Escort pair had a trouble free run netting them the Fastest Kerry Club Crew Award and moved up a place to 4th in the championship behind Round 1 winners Roy White / James O'Brien ( Ford Fiesta WRC ) who emerged joint leaders of the 2018 Top Part West Coast Rally Championship after Round 2 in Kerry with Donagh Kelly / Conor Foley ( Ford Focus WRC ), both on 41 points.
Clare's Padraig Egan retained his third place after a trouble free run in kerry in his Subaru N8.
The Top Part West Coast Championship series reached its mid way point in Limerick on Round 3 where the series had a new leader. With just 7 points seperating two Kerry drivers the battle was on to bring the Top Part Title back home to the kingdom. A previous winner of the championship back in 2011 it was Kerry crew Mike Quinn / Tony Healy ( Ford Escort) who moved into the overall lead after a trouble free run in Limerick. They had clocked up a total of 55 points in the championship as they tried to win the 2018 series. Fellow Kerry driver and the first winner of the West Coast Championship back in 1993 Vincent O'Shea also driving a Ford Escort moved from 5th. up to 2nd. overall with a total of 48 points just 7 points behind Quinn.
Another contender who was trying to break the Kerry driver battle and was also fighting for the 2018 title was Clare's Padraig Egan who still retained his third overall position on 44 points. Padraig had mixed fortunes in Munster. Having fitted new suspensions and brakes to the Subaru N8 before the event, combined with a wrong tyre choice for the first loop of stages all added to a big time loss. Padraic then broke a drive shaft at the start of special stage four and after repairing the Subaru he re-entered the event under Rally 2 and completed the final loop of stages finishing well down the leaderboard. The Clare Crew were awarded the Top Part West Coast Championship "Drive of the Day". Galway's Pat Kelly (Subary Impreza N11) moved up to 4th. overall ahead of Roy White and Donagh Kelly who dropped to 5th. and 6th. Both White and Kelly did not compete in Munster. Ed Synan who stepped up to four wheel drive in Munster moved into 7th Overall after a superb drive in his home event in the McKinstry Hired Subaru Impreza S14 WRC. The Limerick driver is also a twice winner of the Top Part Championship, having won it back in 1997 and 2008 in a Ford Escort.
The Top three Navigators after Round three were headed up by Kerry's Tony Healy on a total of 55 points followed by Galway's Johnahan Kelly in second on 46 points. Cork's James O'Brien held third position on 41 points.
In the Top Part Junior Section Galway's Billy Riordan / John Kilmartin retained their lead in their Honda Civic after securing maximum points in Nenagh, Kerry and Limerick. Armagh's Jason Black who only competed on Round two in Kerry held 2nd. Overall in his Toyota Starlet RWD 19 points behind Riordan while Shane Norris (Honda Civic) retained his 3rd. position.
Everything changed at the top of the leaderboard on Round 4 Galway Summer Stages
Top Part Series Championship Leader after Round 3 Kerry's Mike Quinn / Tony Healy dropped to second overall after failing to finish in Galway. They broke a half shaft on special stage 6 and had to retire. Galway's father and son team Pat and Jonathan Kelly were the new Top Part Championship leaders after a faultless performance on their home stages in a Right Hand Drive Dom Buckley Hired Ford Fiesta R5. Pat changing from his usual Subaru Impreza adapted very quickly to the Fiesta and improved his times as the day went on to finish fifth overall and the crew also won the "Top Galway Crew Award".
Pre event favourites and running no. one on the road Clare's Padraig Egan / Brian Hassett who were having their second outing in the McKinstry Subaru S14 also failed to finish in Galway after a heavy landing on a jump saw them break a timing belt and dropping down to fourth on the West Coast leaderboard, 22 points behind the Championship leaders. Kerry's Vincent O'Shea moved into third overall in the Top Part Series while the rest of the top ten included Ger O'Brien in 5th. followed by Sean Enright and Roy White in 6th. and 7th. Donegal's Donagh Kelly held 8th. position while Ed Synan and Sean Moran completed the top 10 positions.
Round 5, the penultimate round of the Top Part Series moved to Sligo in early September. The re-scheduled event which had to be cancelled back in July due to the extreme warm conditions took place in very wet and slippy conditions. The Top Part West Coast Series championship lead changed again as the leaders, Galway's Pat and Jonathan Kelly crashed out on s.s.4 after hitting some rocks on a corner which had been dragged out by a previous competitor which resulted in breaking a wheel and a wishbone. They dropped to second 10 points behind the new championship leaders, Kerry's Mike Quinn / Tony Healy. A previous winner of the West Coast Championship back in 2011 Quinn made the long haul from Kerry to Sligo and had a trouble free run in his Ford Escort MK2 which resulted in 14th overall. The Kerry men were now looking like the favourite's to take the 2018 title heading into the final Round in Clare. Sean Enright / Kevin Doherty (Ford Escort MK2) also from Kerry moved into third overall in the Top Part Series and lead the two wheel drive section ahead of fellow Kerry Crew Ger O'Brien / John Liston who slotted into 4th. overall. Ger also secured the "Top Part Drive of the Day Award" in Sligo. Limerick's Ed Synan also made the long trip to Sligo with Tom Collins calling the notes in his usual Ford Escort MK2. The Limerick pair finished 18th. Overall and moved up to 5th. Overall in the West Coast Series. Synan and Quinn battled hard in Class 14 but the weather and tyre choice determined everything. Synan attacked s.s.1 on slicks and got 5th. best class 14 time, 8 seconds ahead of Mike Quinn. As s.s. 2 was cancelled and the heavens opened Synan was caught out on the wrong tyres and Quinn clawed back 7 seconds which left just 1 second between the two Escort crews as they entered service. The nip and tuck battle continued over the second loop in wet and miserable conditions. Quinn was 2 seconds faster on s.s.4 but Synan clawed back 2 seconds on s.s.5. On s.s.6 Synan's windscreen fogged up and with limited vision he dropped 3 seconds to Quinn and as both crews entered the second service Quinn lead by .09 seconds. The battle continued over the final loop until the middle of s.s.7 where Synan left his breaking too late coming into a square left, ending in a massive overshoot followed by two stalls and he dropped 23 seconds. The 1993 Top Part Winner Vincent O'Shea dropped back to 6th. overall in the Top Part Series. Clare's Padraic Egan who did not compete in Sligo dropped to 7th. Clonmel's Roy White moved to 8th. ahead of Donegal's Donagh Kelly in 9th. Galway's Michael Rodgers completed the top 10.
In the Top Part Junior section Galway's Billy Riordan / John Kilmartin had a trouble free run in Sligo and secured the 2018 Junior Series in their Honda Civic as their Championship rival Conor Murphy crashed out.
The Final Round in Clare saw Kerry Crew Mike Quinn / Tony Healy secure the 2018 Top Part West Coast Rally Championship Title despite retiring their Ford Escort MK2 on the second last stage with a broken diff, The Kingdom duo were delighted to take the Top Part Title back to its Ancestral home in Kerry where it all began back in 1993. This is Mike's second Top Part Title having already won it back in 2011 with Clare's Grainne McEnery calling the notes.
Limerick's Ed Synan secured runner up spot in the 2018 West Coast Championship in his Ford Escort MK2 after a trouble free run in Clare. The Limerick man who competed on five Rounds and recorded a non finish on Round 1 battled hard with Quinn throughout the series both driving Ford Escorts MK 2's
A great supporter of the Top Part Series through the years Galway's Pat and Jonathan Kelly (Subaru Impreza) finished 3rd. Overall in the 2018 Championship after competing on all 6 Rounds.
Another Kerry Driver Ger O'Brien who won the "Top Part Drive of the Day" in Sligo secured the 2018 Championship Two Wheel Drive Award in Clare and finished 4th Overall in the series while his navigator John Liston finished 2nd. Overall Navigator in the 2018 series.
Keithy McCarthy won the 2018 Two Wheel Drive Navigator Champion.
Mayo's Ronan Denning / Karl Egan won the 2018 GRP N Champions in their Peugeot 208 R2
The 2018 Top Part West Coast Rally Championship Drive's of the Day winners were-
Rd 1. Mike Quinn / Tony Healy.
Rd 2. Derek Butler.
Rd 3. Padraig Egan / Brian Hassett.
Rd 4. Eddie Kennelly / Timmy Murphy.
Rd 5. Ger O'Brien / John Liston.
Rd 6 Gareth Black
Top Part West Coast Rally Championship Awards Night 2018
Kerry duo Mike Quinn / Tony Healy (Ford Escort MK2) were crowned the 2018 Top Part West Coast Rally Champions at an Awards Ceremony which took place recently in The Lady Gregory Hotel in Gort, hosted by the Galway Motor Club. In his acceptance speech Mike thanked The Top Part Group for sponsoring the championship , he also thanked the Championship Committee, the organising clubs, Birr, Kerry, Limerick, Sligo, Galway and Clare, their officials and all the marshalls for organising a fantastic competative and friendly championship. Mike is also looking forward to retaining his championship in 2019.
Also in attendance at the Awards Ceremony were Limerick's Ed Synan / Denis O'Connell who were presented their second overall award while, Galway's Pat and Jonathan Kelly were presented with their 3rd. Overall Award. Also present on the night were Ronan Denning / Karl Egan who recieved the "Top Part Group N Award". Kerry's Ger O'Brien / John Liston were presented with "The 2018 Top Part Two Wheel Drive Award" while also in attendance were Galway's Billy O'Riordan and John Kilmartin who recieved The 2018 Top Part Junior Champions Award.
A special presentation was also made to the six Clerk's of The Course and the Secretary's of the six organising clubs in the Championship.
The "Top Part Drivers of the Day Awards" were also presented on the night and navigator Kevin Doherty was presented with "The Pat Dowling Award".
The "2018 Spirit of The Championship Award" was presented to Jason and Megan Costello.
Mark O'Connor the marketing manager for Top Part also attended and helped out in presenting the awards. In his speech he congratulated all the award winners, the organising clubs and the Championship Committee for organising such a fantastic championship. Mark announced that the Top Part Group who are celebrating 40 years in business would continue with their sponsorship of the Championship in 2019. with some new incentives to be announced and that the Top Part Group will be opening more new stores.
Championship chairman John Tynan announced that the 2019 Championship would again consist of six rounds starting in Abbeyleix and will conclude in Clare on September. John also thanked Mark Parsons, Ray Bent, The Galway Motor Club and the Lady Gregory Hotel for organising a fantastic Awards Night. He also thanked the officials and marshalls of all the organising clubs for running top class events.
A Special Award, "The Dougie Hughes, The Voice of Irish Motorsport, Top Part West Coast Rally Championship Appreciation Award" was introduced by the Championship Committee to mark Dougie's first Anniversary. Dougie was a huge part of the Top Part Championship since it was founded in 1993. The Award was presented to MC for the night Richard Talbot by Dougie's daughter Hazel and Mark O'Connor. Richard a founder member of the Championship along with David Hogan and Donie Dillane recieved a standing ovation from an attendance of over two hundred people. A truly deserving recipient of the Award Richard has put in a huge amount of work into the Championship since its formation in 1993.
Top Part West Coast Rally Championship PRO.
T: 086 6028367