17 June 2018

Motorsport Ireland Weekend Round-up

Photo: Ruaidhri Nash
For the third year in succession, local crew Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett in a Subaru Impreza took top place in the Joule Donegal International Rally, but in a completely different way from their first two triumphs, writes Richard Burke.

 In each of the previous years, they only took the lead on the final stages of the three day rally, but this time, they set the pace on Friday’s opening stage, and apart from slipping to fifth position on the following test, they led for seventeen of the twenty stages, winning by 42 seconds despite easing off for yesterday’s two loops in order not to take any risks.

Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes held runner up spot setting out yesterday morning in the first of a group of Ford Fiesta R5s, but Josh’s elder brother Sam, a former winner of the rally, was on a charge, and took over second place halfway through the day, opening out a 22 second margin by the finish.

 Two recent winners of the Billy Coleman Award for Young Rally Driver of the Year followed the Monaghan pair home, with Killarney’s Rob Duggan finishing fourth and the current title holder, Callum Devine from Derry, fifth. Both of them put in exceptional drives on their first outings in a powerful R5 car.

 There was a heavy toll of casualties among the top 20 seeds, with most of these retiring on Saturday, the longest day of the rally. Declan Boyle’s Fiesta went out with a broken transmission, while Garry Jennings, Rob Barrable, Donagh Kelly and Darren Gass were just some of those who went off the road and couldn’t rejoin.

 In a dramatic finish, Jason Black got the better of a day-long duel with Jordan Hone to claim the Junior Rally by just two seconds on the last stage, after the pair had taken turns to lead.

15 June 2018

BMW 8 Series for November launch

The new BMW 8 Series large coupe will launch in November at a starting price of €125,725 OTR, writes Brian Byrne.

The car will be available with a six-cylinder diesel engine developing 320hp and a V8 petrol with 530hp.

The new car will have adaptive suspension as standard, and both feature all wheel drive.

Onboard technologies include BMW's new 7" display-and-control system, access by smartphone, and a full range of driver assist facilities.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car moves to larger Naas premises

Enterprise Rent-A-Car has moved its Naas office to a larger, higher profile premises on the Kilcullen Road, beside the Garda station, writes Trish Whelan.

The new office, officially opened today by North Kildare Fine Gael TD, Bernard Durkan, provides employment for a team of eight including three new employees who have been recruited for an anticipated increase in demand. The new branch continues Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s presence in Naas since the original office was opened over a decade ago.

Bernard Durkan TD commented: “I was delighted to be asked to cut the ribbon on this new Enterprise Rent-A-Car branch in Naas. It really is an ideal location for the company and a great boost to the economic life of the town. I wish them great success with the new branch.”

Operating in Ireland since 1997, Enterprise is an award-winning car rental company that is known for its extensive network of locations, unique free ‘pick up’ service for customers, everyday low rates and outstanding customer service. It currently employs more than 200 staff and has 25 branches nationwide - more than any other car rental company.

Speaking about the opening of the new Naas branch, George O’Connor, Managing Director, Enterprise Rent-A-Car Ireland said: “We are delighted to be opening our new, larger location in Naas. It’s more accessible for our customers in the town and wider area. With more than 10 years operating in Naas under our belt, we’ve built up a sizeable and loyal customer-base of local people and businesses who need reliable, comfortable and affordable vehicles to go about their everyday business. We’re very excited about the growth in population and commercial activity in the Kildare area. The investment in this new facility puts us in a far better position to be able to serve the local needs of the residents and businesses in Co Kildare.”

He added: “Kildare is a great example of a vibrant community where Enterprise can offer all of our mobility solutions to the county that include daily, weekly, weekend and monthly car and van hire solutions and also Enterprise Car Club which provides a unique B2B mobility offering. This is just the latest opening of a new branch for us following similar openings in the last year in towns and cities across Ireland including Blackpool in Cork, Finglas in Dublin, Drogheda and Letterkenny. Car and van rental is becoming a very cost-effective and convenient solution for more people and companies.”

The new Enterprise Rent-A-Car branch on the Kilcullen Road in Naas is open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm and until 4pm on Saturday and, from 8 July, Sundays from 11am to 2pm. The phone number is 045 895756.

Pictured above cutting the ribbon to open the new branch is North Kildare TD Bernard Durkan, assisted by (on left) Alan Healy, Manager of the new Naas branch; and (on right) Geroge O’Connor, MD of Enterprise Rent-A-Car Ireland.

Pictured below with a Ford Focus from the recently launched Enterprise Rent-A-Car Car Club are the new Naas branch team: (L to R) Darragh Byrne; Leslee O’Loughlin, Enterprise Group HR Manager; Alan Healy, Manager of the new Naas branch; George O’Connor, MD of Enterprise Rent-A-Car Ireland; Kevin Naughton; and Martin Doyle.

First picture of new Peugeot 508 SW

The first pictures of the new generation Peugeot 508 SW estate preview a car that will get its public debut at the Paris Motor Show in the autumn, writes Brian Byrne.

The car will be available in Ireland from early 2019.

Power options will include 1.6 petrol with 180hp/225hp versions, and 1.5 and 2.0 diesels ranging 130hp-180hp.

Among the technologies to be available on the car will be an infra-red camera to detect people and animals at night beyond the range of the lights.

Porsche names its first electric car

Porsche's first all-electric car is to be called the Taycan, writes Brian Byrne.

Targeting the Tesla Model S, Jaguar's I-Pace, and the Audi e-tron, the car is expected to be unveiled later this year, and be on sale next year.

The dual electric motor will have the equivalent of 600hp on tap, and is expected to have a real-world range in excess of 320km.

The new sport sedan has been concepted as the Mission E.

More than 770,000 Mercedes vehicles under emissions recall

More than 770,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles are under a recall order in Europe following the discovery of illegal emissions control devices on a small number of cars, writes Brian Byrne.

The models affected include versions of the Vito van, the C-Class and the GLC SUV.

It is understood that parent company Daimler does not face any fines over the issue, as there is no evidence of intent by the company to design software to cheat emissions rules.

New Sprinter on sale here

The new generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van has arrived on the Irish market at a starting price of €21,950 plus taxes and charges.

In addition to offering high levels of technical advances, the new version of the van offers a FWD variant for the first time.

A new 3-year warranty is now standard across the Mercedes-Benz vans range.

One innovative feature is a new networked, online connectivity system that gives operators comprehensive fleet control.

Incorporating Mercedes PRO Connect and the company's new MBUX multimedia system, the system's functions monitored include vehicle operation and supervision, fleet communication, maintenance management and a digital driver's logbook.

There are 2.1 and 3.0 engines with power outputs ranging from 114hp-190hp.

Kodiaq sets Nurburgring record

A Skoda Kodiaq RS has set a new record for 7-seater SUVs on the Nurburgring Nordschleife (North Loop), writes Brian Byrne.

The vehicle completed the 20.8km circuit in 9:29.84 minutes.

The car was driven by Sabine Schmitz, the first woman to win the 24-hour race at Nurburgring, who has completed in excess of 30,000 laps of the Nordschleife.

Irish pricing for the Kodiaq RS will be revealed towards the end of the year.

14 June 2018

James Wilson is Belgium bound!

James Wilson in action on the Cavan Stages Rally (Pic by Adam Hall).

What an exciting year in rallying it is for twenty-three year old James Wilson from Keady, as now the family team prepare the left hand drive Philip White Tyres backed Peugeot 208 R2 for the Ypres Rally in Belgium, the second round of the British Rally Championship (BRC), writes Andrew Bushe. The event based around the famous town of Ieper, so poignant from the World War 1 battles, will witness some of the best rally stars in the world battling from the 21 - 23 June.

James Wilson
The famous Belgian tarmac closed roads await James for the first time and he’s heard a lot about them. “Some of my main rivals have competed on the rally before and it’s a reputation for being tricky. The weather will be hot but we could be on softer compound tyres than normal due to the smooth roads and the big cuts that are taken. It’s a big experience for us and we have to treat it as part of our learning curve this year in the British Championship” said the young engineer whilst working at his day job in Road Tankers Armagh.

Rallying is a national sport in Belgium and current World Rally Championship leader Thierry Neuville will be present on the event, which counts for the Belgian Rally series and is one of the most famous rallies on the globe. It’s a long trip from Keady, County Armagh to Ieper Belgium, and the back-up crew of Trevor Wilson, Nigel Wilson and Phil Gillespie will set off on the Tuesday evening to reach there on Thursday, whilst James and his Co. Derry co-driver Gavin Doherty fly out on the same day to arrive and engage in the pre event recce making the all-important pace-notes. “It’s totally new for us, the first time the family has really rallied abroad as such, it’s an adventure for sure. We know there will be some local crews who will be very fast, but we need to try and see where our BRC rivals are and aim to finish also. We have a fourth placed finish on round one of the BRC in Carlisle forests to build on and try to keep the points coming in.”

As a warm up to Ypres, and with help from faithful sponsor Tec Industrial, James and Gavin took the Peugeot 208 R2 to the Cavan Stages Rally, trying the Kumho tarmac tyres for the first time, and ended up an impressive nineteenth overall, and second in R2 by just six seconds. “The tyres were excellent, they worked really well, and we think we can make further improvements to the car to suit them also, so that was a good confidence booster.”

Another confidence booster came in April with a nomination from Motorsport Ireland for the Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year Award, a prize worth €50,000. It was following James’s debut R2 win on the opening Valvoline Irish Forestry round in Carrick on Suir that the nomination was announced, and it’s given the team an extra goal to aim for. “It’s an award that would mean so much, there have been many great drivers to win it and to be nominated was an honour, I still can’t believe it.”

With final car preparations undertaken at the James Wilson Garage Services premises in Keady, under the watchful eye of his father Trevor, uncle Glenn, granddad James Snr.and grandma Hilary, all seasoned rally competitors, the Wilson family effort is all being directed to James Jnr. He has already added to the family tally of Irish Tarmac Championship class wins last year, but can he take the family rallying legacy further? Now the team set sail for Belgium and to battle in Ieper, and hopefully they can continue the excellent run in 2018.

VW snapshot competition back for second year

The Volkswagen Snapshot Competition, powered by The Snapys, is back for its second year, writes Trish Whelan.

The Instagram based contest encourages photography enthusiasts to discover their creativity and upload photos to Instagram using the #VWSnapshot hashtag along with their chosen category hashtags.

The categories for this year’s competition are ‘Design’, ‘Light’, ‘Roadtrip’, Technology’ and ‘Volkswagen’. For a full list of details and categories, visit VWsnapshot.ie or see Volkswagen Ireland’s page on Instagram. 

Prizes include a trip to Barcelona, an escape to Bubblehouse, Finn Lough, drones and premium photography lighting equipment.

Twelve entrants will feature in the 2019 Volkswagen Snapshot calendar, the sales proceeds of which will be donated to Volkswagen Ireland’s 2018 charity partner Focus Ireland. Earlier this year, €3,000 was raised for Pieta House through sales of the 2018 Snapshot calendar.

Mark McGrath, Head of Marketing Volkswagen Ireland said there were over 5,000 entrants last year and the company are pleased to support this very worth cause.

The Snapshot 2018 was launched at Baggots Hutton yesterday, 13 June, where a pop-up gallery of last year’s winning entries was on display.