Preparations are well underway for the 2016 Corrib Oil Galway International Rally which takes place from the 5th to the 7th of February. The event is building to be a true classic as Galway Motor Club’s Clerk of the Course, Kieran Donohue, has laid on a very challenging route.

New for the event this year, for the first time in its 45 year history, is the use of the Galway Race Course, Ballybrit. The Race Course’s extensive facilities will help cater for the ever expanding requirements of the rally. There will be more horsepower than horses on this occasion though! The Race Course will play host to mechanical scrutineering on Friday the 5th of February. This will be a perfect opportunity for everyone to get up close to the cars and drivers prior to the high-speed action on Saturday and Sunday.

Also new for 2016 is the introduction of the latest R5 category of rally cars as the premier championship class for this rally. Already a number of these new cars have been sourced by drivers from Ireland and the UK. Early entries suggest there will be at least 10 of these new cars, with Ford Fiestas, Citroen DS3s and Skoda Fabias being the most popular versions. Keith Cronin, three times British Rally Champion and previous Galway Rally winner, has chosen a Citroen, while the Moffett brothers have opted for two Fiestas. Former National Rally Champion Aaron MacHale has opted for a Skoda. World Rally Car drivers will include former rally winner Tim McNulty from Meath in a MINI WRC, Declan Boyle from Donegal and Roy WhIte from Clonmel in two Fiesta WRC cars, and Gary Jennings from Enniskillen and Declan Gallagher from Donegal, both driving Subaru WRC cars.

Corrib Oil Company, a Galway based company, has taken up the role of title sponsor for 2016. Speaking at the recent launch of the rally, the company’s managing director, Eugene Dalton, spoke of his genuine appreciation for the commitment of the organizing team in running the first major tourist and sporting event of the year in Galway each February. Also speaking at the launch, the Mayor of the City of Galway, Councilor Frank Fahy, commented on the advantages to Galway of having a major event so early in the year that encompasses not just the city, but other parts of the county such as Loughrea, Portumna and Gort over the three days of the rally.

The rally will bring a welcome early season boost to visitor numbers in Galway city and county. The event generates over 2,000 bed nights annually as most of the hundred or so teams, some of up to 30 people, spend two weekends in the area between making their route notes and taking part in the event itself.

The 2016 event will again have International Status and will be the opening round of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. It is a true International event with competitors traveling from all over the world for a chance to compete on the Galway roads. One such competitor is Kai-Dieter Kölle, who is again bringing his iconic Porsche 911 all the way from Northern Germany to Galway to compete over the unique terrain of the “Wild Atlantic Way”. The 5 times North German Rally Champion is relishing the challenge, having competed in Galway for the first time last year, enjoying every aspect of the rally.

More information can be found on the rally website www.galwayinternationalrally.com and on social media accounts @GalwayIntRally.