Last year's winner Paul Bird.
Last year's winner Paul Bird.
Motorsport enthusiasts from around Ireland are descending on Trim this weekend for the annual Aer Lingus Motor Club (ALMC) Stages Rally which will have its headquarters in the town for the first time.
The top-level tarmac rallying spectacle takes place on Saturday and Sunday, 5th and 6th July, and with a large local contingent involved in running the event as well as competitors and spectators from all over Ireland and UK, it is set to be a busy weekend in the town. Trim Castle will provide a beautiful back drop to the planned ceremonial start on Saturday 5th July at 8pm.
The Castle Arch Hotel will be the headquarters and all three stages, run three times are in close proximity to the town. The three stages being used are centred in the Kilmessan, Summerhill and Rathcore areas.
An expected strong attraction for competitors is that the road sections have been cut dramatically from previous years and the facilities in the historic town cater well for visiting crews, spectators, service needs as well as parc ferme and scrutiny requirements.
A very strong entry of the top UK and Irish crews and 120 kms of challenging stages will no doubt ensure that all aspiring winners will have no choice but to battle from start to finish to be in with a chance of taking home the ALMC Stages Rally honours.
ALMC Motor Club last year celebrated its 50th year in existence and in May the club successfully ran its first Forest Rally in Co. Wicklow, a round of the national forest rally championship.
ALMC chairman and clerk of the course, John Carroll, said: “Trim is proving to be an ideal location for the headquarters of the rally. It is centrally placed within the county and very accessible to national and UK crews and the spectating public.
“The town and surrounds has been very welcoming of the event and we are thrilled to have the Castle Arch Hotel on board as our rally headquarters in the town. The organising team are really looking forward to a ceremonial start on Saturday 5th July near the castle at about 8pm and then the rally itself on Sunday.”
Brian Byrne, ALMC Chief Marshal, said: “A great draw to the ALMC Stages Rally for volunteer marshals and spectators is the sheer quality of the cars and crews in action. In particular it’s a real meeting of UK WRC teams, who are registered in the REIS MSA Championship, with top WRC crews from this island. Where else would you see these teams go toe-to-toe like this.”
Current point’s leader in the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, Steve Simpson with Patrick Walsh on the notes, will be coming to keep up the championship pressure on point’s front runners and nearest rivals John Stone, Darren Atkinson and Damien Cole, last year’s championship winner.
Last year’s ALMC Stages Rally winner Paul Bird is unable to attend the rally so the door is now firmly open to a new name on the ALMC trophy.
Top entries received to date include Simpson, Cole, Stone, Atkinson as well as Donegal’s Donagh Kelly, Graham Coffey, Alex Laffey, Hugh Hunter, Michael O’Brien and Meirion Evans, son of 2012 winner Melvyn Evans.