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Chris Kelly Memorial Stages Rally gets underway tonight

Fri, 17 Feb 2012

John Cope & Rob Fagg (photo from Manx Rally Media courtesy of John Watterson)
John Cope & Rob Fagg (photo from Manx Rally Media courtesy of John Watterson)

Manx rally co-driver Rob Fagg begins his 2012 rally season this weekend as he tackles the opening round of the Eurocars Motorsport Manx Rally Championship, the Mann Construction sponsored Chris Kelly Memorial Rally.

Teaming up with Bury's John Cope in his Subaru Impreza World Rally Car, the pair will be hoping to continue the form they showed on last year's Tunnocks Mull Rally prior to their retirement.

Back in October, they were running in second overall before a broken gearbox component brought their run to an end on the final stage of leg two.

Prior to their exit the Geo-Prep prepared and run Cope Engineering Impreza was showing the signs of extensive pre-event work with the handling and power much improved from the previous event a month earlier.

Despite having no outings since Mull, Cope and Robert Graham & Co Quantity Surveyors backed Fagg are hopeful are a strong result this weekend as they start at number 4.

"Through the winter further work has been done on the car and this can only be of benefit to us and hopefully give us the best from the machinery to hand" explained Rob. "I am really looking to getting back alongside John for the event and hoping we can keep the pace up we had at the end of last year, there's no reason why not but more importantly continue to enjoy our rallying which seemed to be one of the keys to the Mull pace."

Despite each day of the event only consisting of three individual stages on each leg, these will be repeated at least twice and three times in some cases to give an overall distance of 106 stage miles.

Friday night will see stages in the south of the island with Slieu Whallian, St Marks and an all new Balladoole stage.

Saturday will encompass further Manx classics with runs through the Curraghs, over Druidale down to Sartfield and also the fast Staarvey stage.

Leading the entry is 2011 winner Dave Pattison in his Ears Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo 6, partnered on this occasion by Andy Marchbank.

Pattison has rebuilt his car since an accident on last year's Manx National Rally and also upgraded to a Sequential gearbox so will start as favourite.

2010 Manx Champion Steve Quine will be next up in his Evo 6 with Richard Skinner on the notes with trails ace Steve Colley and Graham Fargher in another Evo, this time an 8 variant away at three.

Cope and Fagg as mentioned are away at four with the first of the two wheel drive cars Martyn Jones and David Radcliffe (Vauxhall Nova) rounding out the top 5.

A 54 car entry should offer great viewing and battles throughout the field, and with MC Video covering it for their Special Stage programme to be aired on Motors TV in the week's following the event, this is certainly not one to be missed.

Proceedings get underway from the St John's service area at 19:01 with crews due back into service from the first loop at around 20:12.

They will then head out for a repeat of the opening loop before completing the opening leg at approx 21:43, meaning that crews will tackle stages in darkness proving another challenge.

Saturday's action resumes from Jurby at 09:38, with plenty of action packed in before the finish in Market Square, Ramsey at 13:58.

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