Rally Ireland at Sligo / Enniskillen

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Rally Ireland, Ireland’s bid event for the World Rally Championship, concluded this afternoon in Sligo city with Ireland’s Eugene Donnelly taking first, Eamon Boland taking second, Swedish WRC driver (currently ranked 6th) Daniel Carlsson took third and Australian WRC driver Chris Atkinson (ranked 9th) winner of Group N, finished in fourth place overall. Commenting on the event, Rally Ireland 2006 winner, Eugene Donnelly said: "It would be a dream come true for someone like me who is a true rallyman at heart to have the WRC come to Ireland.  We’ve shown that we can provide great challenging stages and inject new ingredients into WRC that will make it special and unique.  And I’m delighted to win Rally Ireland." Chris Atkinson said: ”These are great challenging stages.  I’d love to tackle them in my regular WRC car and hope I get a chance to do just that when Rally Ireland gets into the World Championships.”

Sweden’s Daniel Carlsson: "This is my second time in Ireland and the stages and atmosphere are great.  It is would be a real challenge for the top WRC drivers.  It would be great to see Rally Ireland in the WRC." Gareth MacHale, disappointed to have crashed out of the Rally in Stage 8, looks forward to the prospect of a WRC event in Ireland: “Per capita we have more WRC cars than any other country and the fan base is amazing; they have a great loyalty to the sport. Our roads are unique, the sort of tarmac roads you don’t have anywhere else. If it does get into the WRC, which I hope it will, it will be very challenging for the top international teams and drivers.” Despite retiring on Day 1, French Champion Nicolas Bernardi was impressed with what he saw: "It is very different tarmac to what I am used to in France.  The stages are safe and I think Rally Ireland can fit into the WRC calendar very easily as a tarmac round of the championship.  People here are very friendly and crazy about rallying."

The top ten*:
1. Eugene Donnelly (Derry)        2:20:35.1
2. Eamon Boland (Wexford)       +1:57.8
3. Daniel Carlsson (Sweden)    +4:31.6
4. Chris Atkinson (Australia)      +5:30.9
5. Patrick Elliott (Cavan)              +8:00.4
6. Aaron MacHale (Dublin)         +12:02.2
7. Garry Jennings (Enniskillen)  +12:35.8
8. Shaun Gallagher (Donegal)    +14:56.2
9. Paul Harris (Donegal)             +16:08.3
10. Conor McCloskey (Cavan)     +16:26.4

*Results are provisional at this time 

Words taken from www.rallyireland.org

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About Author

Graham is a professional photographer and motoring writer with over 15 varied years of coverage from manufacturer press launches to international motorsport and rally events throughout the world. Graham is a full member of the Guild of Motoring Writers. See more at grahamcurry.com

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