Following a year’s absence from the motorsport calendar, the Garda Siochana Motor Club’s Germaines of Baltinglass Mini Stages Rally returns this Sunday, October 23rd, and the efforts of the club have been rewarded with an entry of over 100 crews.
The quality field will be lead away by the No. 1 seed, Jonathan Pringle, in his Ford Escort RS, who has been on a rich vein of form over recent months. The Cavan driver took his first overall victory on the Donegal Mini Stages Rally in the Spring, and later followed it up with another win on the Imokilly Mini Stages in Cork. He was also triumphant on the Carlow Mark 2 Challenge this year. Pringle will be guided by his regular co-driver, Alan Keena.
The second seed will be Enda O’Brien, also in an Escort. He and co-driver, John Butler, led the early stages of the Wexford Rally last month, and eventually finished second overall, behind a WRC Subaru. O’Brien, from Kilkenny, also won the Modified category of the Abbeyleix Rally at the start of the season.
Another Escort crew, David Condell and Paul Kelly are at No. 3. Condell, from Carlow, was runner up to Pringle on the Mark 2 Challenge, the difference between them just nine seconds at the end of the rally, and a victory in Baltinglass would go some way to avenging that defeat.
The remainder of the top ten is equally full of strong contenders. Jack Newman (Escort) finished fourth overall in Baltinglass last year, and will be guided this time out by Andrew Brown. David Moffett, from Ballinode, Co. Monaghan, won the Junior section of the 2014 Donegal International Rally, and took the Border Championship the same year. He was a Billy Coleman Award nominee in 2015, and is a brother of Richard Moffett, winner of the 2013 GSMC Rally. David has yet to select a co-driver for Sunday.
The Kerry crew of Mike Quinn and Tony Healy (Escort), seeded at number six, have finished in the top three in each of the last two Baltinglass rallies.
The Germaines of Baltinglass Mini Stages Rally 2016 will be the sixth and final round of the LoughranSigns.com Midlands East Rally Championship, in which the Laois father and son crew of Joe and Eddie Moffitt in their Class 1 Honda Civic currently hold the advantage. Their closest challengers are James Cassidy and Declan Smith in a Class 12 Ford Escort.
The first stage of the rally will get under way shortly after 11am on Sunday morning. The route will consist of three loops of the Brewel Hill and Killelan tests in east Kildare. Service, after stages 1, 3 and 5, will be based in Crookstown village.
The winning crew is due at the Finish in Baltinglass at 5.30pm.
Germaines of Baltinglass GSMC Mini Stages Rally 2016 Top Ten Seeds
No. Driver/Navigator Car
1 Jonathan Pringle/Alan Kenna (Ford Escort RS)
2 Enda O’Brien/John Butler (Ford Escort RS)
3 David Condell/Paul Kelly (Ford Escort RS)
4 Jack Newman/Andrew Browne (Ford Escort RS)
5 David Moffett/TBA (Toyota Starlet)
6 Mike Quinn /Tony Healy (Ford Escort RS)
7 Alister Fingleton/Debbie Fingleton (Ford Escort RS)
8 Marty Toner/Sharon Clarke (Talbot Sunbeam)
9 Seamus O’Connell/Sean Magee (Ford Escort RS)
10 Sam Smyth/Alan Smyth (Ford Escort RS)