Competitors Eye on Sunday Stages
Name: Martin Brady
Lives: Carraroe, Co. Galway
Driver: Bryan Brophy
Car: Hillman Imp (H14)
Info: Martin has quite a varied career to date with a lot of success both at home and abroad. He has a trophy cabinet filled from success in various rally championships, from America, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. No doubt this weekend he will be hoping to add an historic trophy to that cabinet.
Today’s stages are south east of Galway but this time based between the towns of Gort and Loughrea with the centralised service remaining at the Livestock Mart in Gort. Two of today’s stages move to higher altitudes with the final stages of the loop at lower altitudes like the Saturday stages. When all is traversed today it is a return to the victory ramp at the Clayton Hotel in Ballybrit at 16.17.
Special Stage 6/9/12 The Black Road
Its a dark one this stage in every sense of the word, something magic about this stage, maybe even black magic. It has been a feature of many a Galway rally over the years in its many various incarnations and configurations. Skirting over the bog roads it begins just outside Loughrea in the shadow of the many windmills that have settled in the hills here, these hills are what frame the stage as it twists and turns its way to the fast run down into the Derrybrien area where the stage finishes. It begins narrow and tight but mostly visible with no major surprise corners, a gentle introduction to the territory, but by junction three it has opened out into wide open bogland that is fast and climbing and you must be committed in here to not loose out to rivals. Being a bog area the bumps are the thing that will suddenly become oh so relevant at speed, some bumps that seem gentle on recce can suddenly become tense moments when flat out. A tight technical section will slow down the average speed just past the midway point but some corners in here are deceptive and hidden, if someone goes missing on this stage it could be because they were caught napping in here. Yet again chicanes are necessary on the ultra fast run downhill to the finish, other wise it would just be a drag race, albeit one for the very brave and committed. No doubt this is a classic and instantly recognisable stage and even in its own right it is one worth doing Galway for.
Special Stage 7/10/13 – Lough Cultra
As the name suggests, the stage is framed by the lake it skirts past. Another cornerstone of the Galway story down through the years it has been used in many configurations but it always offers up a new challenge each time we visit. It is a very grippy stage even in the wet, rain in here is not as big a difficulty compared to other stages where the surface is more slick. The big characteristic of the stage is the dips, and there are many of them and all are fast, the secret is just how fast you can take them. Machine has as much a bearing on this as driver but if you can be committed over the bumpy dips and hollows then the time will surely be competitive. That said if for some reason you decide to take it slower then there are things for the tourist driver to appreciate such as the view of Lough Cultra castle on the lake shore as you come over the flat crest just after junction 10, it was certainly a pretty sight on recce. From there big crests take you to the finish, if in the dying moments of the rally there is still a big race for position expect the brave to get big air at the finish of the stage in a frantic search for the last precious seconds for victory.
Special Stage 8/11 – Brady’s Yard
Perhaps this was where the royalty of Loughrea once resided as there are many fine ruins of castles and round towers to be seen on the landscape of this stage, not that rallying’s royalty will have time to appreciate them as they blast past this weekend. The stage starts in a very recognisable farm yard which certainly has been a waypoint on previous versions of this stage before in different directions, I am assuming this is the Brady’s yard from where the stage gets its title. A very technical start to this stage with relentless corner corner corner as we run parallel with a small stream that is struggling to contain its heavy load of water making it more like a big river. The floods in the fields are highly visible and any showers could have little place to drain away so standing water could be a feature on this stage if the weather turns bad. The stage flows nicely and then opens into a straight that seems to be the length of about four runways, it is only 700 meters and surely it will pass quickly at rally speed but it is a memorable backbone to the stage if you are brave enough not to brake too early for the chicane at the end of the straight. Again in the high speed sections small rises in the road surface could become significant jumps when flat out so it is sure to be a fun stage if car and crew are working in harmony.
You can catch Martin calling the notes for Bryan in car number H14 in the Historic section of the Galway International Rally which will run after the main field throughout the weekend.