With less than two weeks to go until the annual rally fever hits Sligo and its surrounds, entry levels are very encouraging, well ahead of the same point in recent years. This has also been driven by a series of incentives to attract entries in early, where an entrant can win back a portion of their entry fee. The first draw will be sponsored by the Carty Group, a second one will take place on the closing date and a further one sponsored by National Automation, a FAAC associate company, will take place on the morning of the event.
Being a round of three prestigious championship , the Triton National , the Sligo Pallets Border and the Top Part West Coast Championship is undoubtedly a factor in Sligo Stages appeal, but the quality and atmosphere surrounding the event is also well renowned. The July date is embedded in the motorsport calendar bringing large crowds to the region generating valuable revenue among the hospitality sector throughout the county.
The FAAC Simply Automatic/Sligo Park Hotel Stages Rally is scheduled to take place on Sunday, July 8, with scrutiny and pace note making on the Saturday. Mechanical scrutiny brings a unique twist to this year’s event as the operation takes place in the spectator friendly venue of Sligo Retail Park in Carraroe, commencing at 2.30pm and sponsored by Sligo Haulage & Distribution, where enthusiasts, young and old, can observe rally cars put through rigorous safety checks in advance of hitting the stages next morning.
The event proper kicks off on Sunday morning with the first car due to depart Parc Ferme at the Retail Park in Carraroe, at 9.45am, with Knocknarea and Queen Maeve’s grave as a backdrop. The cars head to the west of the county for stage one, sponsored by Herron Auto, a demanding technical test with numerous challenging junctions. Stage two, sponsored by Glenview Decorative Stone, holds memorable historic links and a brave stage for the undaunted. The third stage of the loop, supported by Kerrigan Quarries, contains more faster flowing speed carrying sections, before the cars return to service.
The service park, sponsored by neighbouring complex Gulf Oil/Hot Rods, which is visited on two occasions, enables crews to carry out essential maintenance before going out on a further loop.
Apart from the high level of outsider interest, their is a substantial degree of local sporting rivalry, both within classes and neighbourhoods. An award for the fastest local finisher, sponsored by McGowan Landscapes, has injected a new goal for prospective crews, among the nearing 30 current Connacht Motor Club members entered.
The first crew is due back at the finish ramp at rally headquarters, Sligo Park Hotel, on the Sunday evening at 5.15pm to be awarded the winning title for 2018.
Full details and updates are available on the club website, connachtmotorclub.com, or on the club’s Facebook and Twitter pages.