The BIG Preview: Ravens Rock Rally 2012
June 21, 2012 by Trevor McGrath
Over the past two years the last Saturday and Sunday of June has signified a octane fuelled weekend in the Marble City. This is set continue this year as the Carrick on Suir Motor Club brings the Ravens Rock Rally to Kilkenny City and County for the third successive year with the tarmac rally taking place next Sunday. Sponsored by Suirway Farm Machinery and the Kilford Arms Hotel the Motorsport Rally has been taken to the hearts of Kilkenny people during the previous two visits and now looks set for one final blast in the home of the Black and Amber.
At the helm again this year is Threecastle’s man John Rafter, “I would like to welcome each and every one of you to Kilkenny City and County for the 2012 running of the Ravens Rock Rally. This year sees the culmination of three years of hard work and dedication from the Carrick on Suir Motor Club to hold our premier event in the Marble City. For myself as ‘Clerk of the Course’ it has been a hugely intensive but equally rewarding role. The time spent organising each event has differed from year to year and has shown to me the huge amount of talent we are lucky enough to have in our Motor Club.
The euphoria that surrounded the initial event in 2010, seeing that rally come to fruition will always give me special memories. 2011 was the next step as we tried to improve on our opening achievements, with our main aim of highlighting ‘Motorsport’ in Kilkenny. 2012, the final chapter. This year has been about rounding off what we set out to do and I’m sure by next Sunday night we will have achieved this.”
The event will commence this year with a Ceremonial Start at in the heart of Kilkenny at the Tholsel, High Street on Saturday evening the 23rd June at 19.00 hrs. After introducing the ceremonial start to the event in 2010 in an attempt to raise the profile of rallying in the Marble City, it has grown in popularity and now forms an integral part of showcasing the cars and stars of the rally. The ceremonial start also gives the club the opportunity to highlight our event sponsors for whom it would not be possible to hold without, John states, “Over the course of this three year journey as COC I’ve had the honour of working with our three amazing sponsors. I pay tribute to Suirway Forklifts/Farm Machinery, The Kilford Arms Hotel and Chancellors Mill for their sustained support. Pius Phlean and the Kilford Arms has been an incredible headquarters, Pius and his team within the hotel are always on hand to help in anyway. I thank John Dalton owner of Chancellors Mill for the use of his premises. From year one John has always been eager to be involved with the rally and more than eager to give of his premises. I leave Suirway Forklifts/Farm Machinery and James Coleman to last because it’s hard to put into word what James has done for the rally. He and his company are now synonymous with the rally having been a major sponsor of the ‘Ravens Rock’ for main year’s but also as an experienced club member and Motorsport Ireland official has been on hand to give advice.” With Street entertainment before and throughout and a host of ‘Rally Stars and Cars on Show’ the ‘Tholsel’ will be a hive of motorsport activity and will be the perfect place to kick off the Motorsport weekend.
The main event then begins on Sunday morning with the first of nine special stages at 9.48am. The rally follows the same format as twelve months ago with a three stage layout and centralised service in Chancellors Mill after every three stages. Deputy, Clerk of the Course, Tullaroan’s Pierce Doheny Snr said, “This has been one our biggest selling points to perspective competitors this year. The overall length of the event is approx. 199 km of which 123.33km are stages. When a crew leave Parc Ferme on Sunday morning it’s only 10kms out to the start of the opening test and when they reach the finish they only have a 2km road section before entering stage two. This is again repeated on stage three and finally they cover 10kms back to service, making this a very compact rally both to recce and compete.”
The Special Stages:
SS1/4/7: Over the last two years the rally route took a clockwise direction but this time round in a change to the layout we head anti-clockwise from Kilkenny City out to Freshford for the opening ‘Clashacrow’ test. The test also forms stage’s four and seven. Stage commander here is Barry Duggan with his deputy being Terence Kearney.
Marshals Meeting Point: Freshford Village – Time: 7am.
The best viewing points are on this stage can be excessed from the Kilkenny/Tullaroan rd. The stage is sponsored by Shay Power Ltd.
SS 2/5/8: As stated earlier there’s only a short two km road section between the end of stage one and the start of the second. SS 2/5/8: ‘Knocknamuck’. Stage Commander: Barry Roche, deputies Sean Byrne & Marty Mullins.
Marshalls Meeting Point: Tullaroan Village – Time: 7.30am.
The best viewing points are in Craddockstown and Kildrinagh. The stage is sponsored by The Valley Inn, Woodsgift.
SS 3/6/9: the final stage in the loop is ‘Corstown’. Stage Commander: Brian Kehoe and his deputy is Liam Bergin.
Marshalls Meeting Point: Tullaroan Village – Time 8am.
The best viewing points include excess from Kilmanagh and there’s also excess points from the Tullaroan/Kilkenny rd. The stage is sponsored by Keoghs Garage, Tullaroan.
Competitor Liaison Officer, Pierce Doheny Jnr commented on the preparation for the event, “We decided early on in the preparation for this year’s rally to continue with both our online and postal entry form. Having the two options gives crews the choice and using the online method makes the process very easy. Since the publication of our event regulations and the opening dates for entries the entry has been slowly building and now (time of going to print) with a week to go we look set to reach the magical number and start more than one hundred cars.”
Going into the entry in more detail Pierce elaborated on the main contenders, “At this time drivers likes Kevin Barrett (Subaru Impreza WRC S11), John Joe Fleming (Ford Focus WRC) and Denis Cronin are top of the list for overall honours but with the International Rally in Donegal at the weekend we have some crews that have expressed an interest and should they come out the other side of that rally their next port of call will be Kilkenny but I must say that the interest has been great and this has been down to the fact that we have had our usual ‘Early Retry Incentive Prize Draw’ and ‘Honda Cup Award’ running again this year and both have been the source of why the entries have been mounting.”
Apart front the front end of the field there are also a host of local crews taking part, these include: Class 2: James Dunphy and Ritchie Dalton are the ones to watch and I’m delighted to see Ritchie taking part as he is also one of our event sponsors. Class 7: Noel Coogan (Castlecomer), Class 9: Kenny Treacy (Carlow), Class 10: John O’Donnell (Dungarvan), Jimmy Doyle, and Paschal O’Shea, Class 11: Enda O’Brien and Derek Brennan and Donagh O’Sullivan, and Brian Nugent, Class 12: Alan Commins, Class 13: Shay Power, James Coleman and Tommy Murphy (Threecastles), Historics: Seamus Anderson.
Where to find event information: The main port of call for event info is the Carrick MC website, www.carrickonsuirmotorclub.com, here you will find:
(A) The Event Time and Distance Schedule
(B) Parc-Ferme and Service Area layout
(D) Event Google Map – Showing: HQ, Scrutiny, Parc Ferme, Service Area, Ceremonial Start, Marshal Meeting Points, with their respective GPS pionts.
Going hand in hand with the club website is the ‘Official Event Programme’. The 52 page programme is packed with info including Full Colour Map of the Special Stages, Special Stage Timetable, Full Seeded Entry List, Articles from the Major Championship involved in the Rally, Review of Craig Breen’s 2011 World Rally Academy Championship Victory and much much more.
During the rally you can Logon to the club site for live results, which will be updated from Sunday morning as soon as the first competing cars complete the opening stage. From the club site you can also join their twitter account and follow the updates as they become available. In addition to this the club have availed of Killian Duffy and his new online service Ultimate Rally News available at www.ultimaterallynews.com
Word of Caution:
The Club would ask that if you intend to spectate at the rally that you obey the safety instructions of the Marshalls and other officials. We hope you enjoy this year’s event, and the very best of luck to all the competitors. Stay safe on our roads, and remember this year to “Keep the race in its place”