The Mayo Stages Rally, which opens the 2022 National Rally Championship, is set to run at maximum capacity as entries flood in this week.
Rally Insight understands that three World Rally Cars, around 20 R5s, and 35 Class 13 and 14 crews have already entered – 160 crews overall. Mayo Stages Rally takes place on Sunday 6 March.
The national rally is based in Claremorris with two stages repeated, including some variation on the final loop, giving competitors eight tests in total. Crews will tackle 97 stage-kilometres over the one-day rally which is also a counting round of the Border, West Coast, and Motorsport Ireland Junior championships.
Mayo Stages Rally’s town-centre base, compact rally route, and community initiatives are all key focuses this year. Killian Duffy is working with the rally in an unofficial capacity spearheading ideas that includes the addition of two extra stages to the usual six-stage format.
Duffy initially hoped Mayo could use a loop system at the start of the rally’s first stage. Crews would tackle an initial three-kilometre loop before merging past the start-line before completing the rest of the stage.
The car at the start-line would then leave on the bumper of the competitors who had just completed the loop.
“I couldn’t get the concept passed by Motorsport Ireland’s Rallies Commission,” admitted Duffy. “When I put it in last November it just was too short notice.
“The Rallies Commission has been fantastic to be fair and even though they didn’t let me use a loop system, I can see why. It was a bit tight but hopefully it is something we can do in the future.”
With one idea gone, Duffy came up with another plan which gives competitors eight stages rather than six.
“I only wanted to run loops of two stages because of resources and trying to keep the cost of it down,” Duffy continued.
“I decided to run two extra stages instead. So we do two stages three times.
“When they go out to do the stages for the fourth time, both stages have the same start and finish line, but they are different in the middle.
“When crews arrive at location three on the seventh stage, instead of going left, they’ll go right and cut out three kilometres of the stage. So it is a shorter version of the same stage.
“On the last stage when crews come to location seven instead of going left at a crossroads they’ll go straight on. They will rejoin the stage later on at another junction.
“It is just to give them something different and it means they are not doing the same stage four times.
“Those parts of the stages will be blocked in so there will be no spectator traffic to worry about.”
It is an interesting concept and Duffy was keen to thank and praise club members for their hard work and support over recent months.
Duffy has been able to pitch these ideas to his experienced club colleagues providing a nice mix of new visions and safe planning.
A Saturday night ceremonial start will ignite the atmosphere in Claremorris with the rally run from Claremorris’s Town Hall Theatre.
Trophies have been scrapped for Mayo Rally, instead winning crews will be given a poster decorated by local school children. Mayo’s primary schools have been given a rally-inspired design to colour-in with the best one used for rally awards.
Mayo Rally organisers also aim for crews to pass through Ballindine’s start-ramp after each service to give locals a better chance to see each car.
It is all in a bid to share rallying in a positive light to the local community. The community feeling starts with the rally’s main sponsor, McHugh’s Service Station, who recognises the importance of visits received by passing rally fans between Sligo and Galway.
While entries keep coming in for the National Rally Championship opener, the rally will be limited to 140 cars plus Juniors who compete on the final four stages.
Action photos by Kevin Glendinning