rny08_donn.jpg Rally New York USA ’07 Winner Donnelly Seeks Two in a Row

Celsus "Charlie" Donnelly, winner of Rally New York USA 2007, will be back this year seeking a second victory in a row. The Irish rally veteran is looking forward to the all-pavement format this year – no surprise as rally competitors from the Emerald Isle have a great deal of experience competing on asphalt.

Donnelly’s car will be the same Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 which carried him to victory last year. The only major change will be a coat of white paint to replace the silver and red of last year (made necessary by some body damage at another event). He views the use of a familiar machine as an advantage. "I know the car and I know what the car will do."

Donnelly’s co-driver during the successful ’07 season, Noel Gallagher, is not available this year, so he will bring Barry Smith along to handle navigation. (Smith is, like himself, an Irishman from the Bronx.)

Asked about his intended pace, the defending winner replies that he will "Just take it one stage at a time and see how it goes."

Ford Teams Focus on Rally New York USA

At last fall’s International Rally New York, the Ford Focuses of Hampton Bridwell/Josh Katinger and the father/son team of Simon and Kieran Wright finished first and second in the Production class, and 2-3 in the two-wheel-drive division. It’s not surprising that both teams have entered Rally New York USA (April 4-5, 2008) for another shot at the roads of the Catskill Mountains.

Production class cars are small-engine compact sedans; no turbochargers or four-wheel-drive allowed. They must run in showroom specifications, apart from the required safety equipment and some heavy-duty springs and shocks. As Bridwell notes, "You can get a used Focus for several thousand dollars, upgrade the engine and [suspension] struts and hit the road with a very reliable and competitive rally car." A typical rally Focus is a 2800-pound car with 175 horsepower, which can sprint from the start line to 60 miles per hour in just under eight seconds. "It’s a fun car to drive," says Simon Wright.

In Rally New York USA the Wrights are returning with their car’s engine modified to move up into the Open 2WD, seeking a higher finish in the two-wheel-drive division, while Bridwell/Katinger will again contest Production. The Richard Spaulding/Niall Johnson Focus will be in Production as well. Competition among the two-wheel-drive runners could be stiff, but Bridwell is optimistic. "If we keep to our strategy of being consistently quick with an aim towards the finish, I believe that we can get into the top dozen and maybe a podium [finish] for 2WD."

Rally New York organization is the promoter and the organizer of the Rally New York USA, the first round of the United States Rally Championship (www.usrallychampionship.com ), scheduled for April 4 – 5, 2008 with the headquarters at the Nevele Resort in Ellenville, New York and the International Rally New York, the final round of the United States Rally Championship with a year-end Championship Awards Ceremony, which will take place on October 31 – November 1, 2008.

Contact information and more information on all Rally New York events may be found at www.RallyNewYork.com .



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