Visitor numbers up as Rally gets underway

Bed and breakfasts and hotels are reporting that visitor numbers in the county for the Topaz Donegal International Rally are well up on last year.

Bed and breakfasts and hotels are reporting that visitor numbers in the county for the Topaz Donegal International Rally are well up on last year.

The 2012 event got underway on Friday morning in Letterkenny with crews leaving the start ramp at An Grianan Theatre on Port Road.

There will be six special stages on Friday in the Manorcunnincham, Newtowncunningham and Burt areas with service in Buncrana. The day will finish with two runs over the Buncrana spectator stage.

On Saturday, the cars will leave Letterkenny at 9am for eight special stages with service in Milford.

On Sunday, the rally leaves Letterkenny at 10am for six special stages. Service on Sunday is in Downings and the cars are expected back to the finishing ramp at Letterkenny’s Mount Errigal Hotel at around 5pm on Sunday evening.

Once again, the Donegal event has attracted a top class entry with around 150 cars entered, among them some of the leading names in Donegal rallying.

Local interest will centre on the national rally and while last year’s winner Daniel McKenna from Monaghan is the No. 1 seed he will face stiff opposition from a number of top local drivers including Declan Boyle, Manus Kelly and Brian Brogan.

Overall top seed is Armagh driver, Darren Gass who leads the way in the Irish Tarmac Championship. Gass along with Garry Jennings, Darragh O’Riordan and Derek McGarrity are the leading names for what’s an eagerly awaited rally.

Rally fans have already descended on the county for the weekend event and rally organisers say local hotels and bed and breakfast operators are reporting that business is already very busy.