Local driver and National Rally Champion Declan Boyle is the number one seed and the man to catch at this weekend’s Donegal Harvest Rally.
Boyle takes over the number one position on the road following the withdrawal this week of newly crowned Irish Tarmac Rally champion Garry Jennings. Fermanagh man Jennings was crowned Tarmac champion after he came second in last weekend’s Cork 20.
The Rally, which is on this Saturday, October 12th, is sponsored by the Chúirt Hotel and the Earagail Health Club in Gweedore, returns to the Rosses for the first time in a number of years. All nine stages are based in and around the Dungloe and Lower Rosses area.
The stages were, in the past, used in previous Harvest Rallies, the once popular Hills of Donegal Rallies and part of the old Circuit of Ireland stages. They will be run three times, giving nine stages in total, with a centralised service park in Dungloe.
Organisers have reported a large entry list with a total of 129 entrants and the rally fraternity in the West of the County and further afield this week are looking forward to the event .
“We are all set. At this stage everything is falling into place nicely for us and we are expecting a good rally,” assistant Clerk of the Course P J Bonner said last night.
“Most of the competitors did their reconnaissance on Sunday last and the rest, mostly those from outside the county, will do theirs on Friday morning.
“We have a total of 129 entrants made up of 123 standard cars and six juniors. Garry Jennings confirmed to me yesterday that he was not competing at the weekend. It is unfortunate that he can’t make it but we still have a quality field and we are anticipating a very competitive and exciting event.”
Other top local crews competing over Saturday’s nine stages are Martin Doherty and Damien McCauley in an Evo9, Damien Gallagher and Mac Walsh in an Escort, Martin McGee and Clodagh McGee, from Cranford also in an Escort.
This year’s Donegal winner Gary McPhillips from Monaghan, in Ford Escort, Wesley Patterson, from Lisburn and Camilus Bradley from Draperstown, will lead the visiting challenge.
The Harvest Rally is also the fifth and final round of the Sligo Pallets Border Championship with vital points in that championship up for grabs. Gary McKiernan currently leads the championship on 38 points from Jonathan Pringle on 36 and Declan Boyle on 32. With Boyle and McKiernan both competing on Saturday the championship will be decided this weekend.
The Chúirt Hotel in Gaoth Dobhair is Rally Headquarters.
The first car is off the ramp at the Chúirt Hotel will be at 9.45 pm with the first car back at the hotel again around 5 pm on Saturday evening.
Scrutiny is at the Industrial Estate in Gweedore from 3 pm on Friday while service on Saturday is in Dungloe.
Garry Jennings has won the Harvest for the last three years with ) Maguire from Monaghan, in 2009, the previous winner. With neither Jennings or Maguire going this weekend, the Harvest will have a new winner come Saturday evening.