Hill-climb 2019

The Clare Motor Club hosted rounds 5 & 6 of the National Hillclimb and Sprint Championship in the hills of Feakle Co. Clare. The new venue attracted competitors from both near and far to sample some of the long straights and fast elongated corners that the East Clare venue had to offer. Miltown man, Michael Hamilton swapped the driving seat for a the Clerk of Course roll this weekend with the help from his team from Clare Motor Club.

Saturday morning broke over the sunny hills of Feakle as a day of speed and sport commenced.
It was Tulla man, Robert Dwane in his OMS 25 opened the weekends time sheets on Run 1 with a time of 53.69 secs over the 2km course, setting fastest time of the day in the process. The Dublin based pair of Billy White and Gary Egan, sharing a Formula Renualt, battled it out through the day to claim best of the rest, with Gary Egan taking 2nd Overall with a time of 58.39 as Billy White followed him by a mere 7 hundredths of a second. Brian Kirwin, Peugeot 205, local rally driver, Michael Fitzgibbon, Honda Civic and Dara Fay, Suzuki Swift swapped positions throughout the day with each of them on top of the saloon pile at some stage. In the end it was the Wexford ace of Kirwin claiming top saloon honors and an impressive 5th Overall. Event sponsor, Pa Malone of Darragh, Co. Clare was the next Clare Motor Club memeber to finish 2nd in class 9, followed by Martin O’Halloran 1.1 seconds behind. Declan O Regan and Brian Hassett, shared a Peugeot 205 for the day which came to a sudden end with the car sidelined after crashing out in run 2. Keith Naughton finished his day in the potent Peugeot 106 7th in class 1A.

Sunday saw a whole different day of racing as the weather was not as kind, predictable or consistent as Saturday. Drivers had to pick and choose running times wisely between the heavy showers to give them the best possible chance of a dry run. The top 3 however was no different with Dwane setting the pace early in the wet with a time of 51.15 seconds, with Egan behind on 54.84 and White at 56.80. Michael Fitzgibbon shined through the rain as he usually does on the home hillclimb with a time of 60.57 taking top saloon and 4th Overall while Kirwin had to play second fiddle with a time of 62.01 followed by Fay, 62.31. Other Clare Competitors on the day included Niall and John O’Sullivan battling hard in their Citroen C2 with Niall winning class 8 and John finishing in a respectable 5th in class. Keith Naughton swapped his Peugeot for a Subaru Impreza which paid off after some hard work taking him to 13th Overall and winning class 13. Pa Malone took the Escort home to 2nd in class 9 while Robert Behan powered his Mini to 8th in class. Tulla local Francis Kelly drove his Honda Civic to 3rd in class 9. Cratloes Tomas Ryan took 4th in class 4 with his Honda Civic.

With Robert extending his lead now to 6 wins from 6 events all prospects of retaining his champion title are looking positive. As rounds 7 & 8 of the championship move to what the hillclimbers call Monte-“Carlow” on July 6/7 it is sure all the big names and cars will be out to commence battle once again.

At the Laois Heartlands Rally Anthony and Jill Breen finished 56th overall and second in class 15 which was a good test before the Donegal International Rally.

Dougie Hughes Memorial Rally, 2019

Clare Stages Rally 2019 Preliminary Details

This year’s Clare Stages Rally will be taking place on Sunday September 15th 2019. Once again based for the third year in Clare’s County town of Ennis, which has recently been awarded the title of ‘friendliest town in Ireland’, with Rally HQ in the very popular Hotel Woodstock. Club Chairman and Crusheen native, Gerry O’Brien, is stepping up to the role as COC for the third year in a row. Clare Motor Club and it’s directors would like to offer a very special thank you to Charlie McEnery of Charlie McEnery Motor Services in Ennis for his very generous sponsorship for the past two years.

This year we are delighted to announce that M. Fitzgibbon Contractors Ltd., who were associate sponsor for the last two years, have stepped up as main sponsor for this year’s rally.

The Committee and Directors are also delighted to welcome EMC Autos on board as an associate sponsor for this year’s event. Both business proprietors Michael Fitzgibbon and Eoghain McMahon are very active members and competitors in the Club.

We are also pleased to announce that Hotel Woodstock, who are coming on board for a third year as associate sponsor, have won best Ascend Hotel in Europe at the recent Choice Hotel awards in Amsterdam. Congratulations to Management and Staff of the Hotel on this well deserved award.

In January 2018 Clare Motor Club and Irish Motorsport lost an icon of Motorsport in the late great Dougie Hughes. Dougie was a member of Clare Motor Club for many years and while he was a sales rep on the roads of Ireland, he would always plan his trip to this side of the country to attend club meetings. Dougie, for many years, represented the Clare Motor Club at CAC meetings in Dawson Street. We hope Dougie will never be forgotten and that his legacy in Irish Motorsport will always live on through the generations to come. Following discussion with fellow directors, Gerry O’Brien spoke with Dougie’s family, with the intention of the Club doing something in his memory and with kind permission from Dougie’s family, the Club have renamed the Clare Stages Rally to Dougie Hughes Memorial Clare Stages Rally.

The Dougie Hughes Memorial Clare Stages Rally will consist of 3 top quality stages repeated 3 times covering almost 120kms of smooth, good quality surface, with centralised servicing in the Ennis Mart Complex, after stages 3 and 6. The Mart Complex also hosts Scrutiny, Parc Ferme and Trailer Park, meaning little or no movement for the competitors once they arrive in town.
The Club are once again hoping to offer one of the biggest competitor incentives in the Country and British Isles, for this year’s rally. Please follow the Clare Stages Rally Facebook page for more details.

The Top Part Rally Committee have this year given a great incentive to those registering for The Top Part West Coast Rally Championship. There are bonus points for groups of events within the series, being a new addition for 2019. Three valuable bonus points were on offer for round 2, which was Circuit of Kerry, for competitors who signed on in Birr. This will also apply to the other groupings, Limerick and Connacht and Galway and Clare. In addition, two starter points are on offer on non Triton rounds for 2019, Kerry and Clare. 
The Dougie Hughes Memorial Clare Stages Rally also marks the third year of the beautiful crafted Colin McRae perpetual cup, which goes to the fastest overall modified 2wd car of the day. In 2017 this most sought after cup was won by Kerry’s Mike Quinn and last year Chris Armstrong put his name on the cup. Who will see their name engraved on the cup in 2019?