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Fivemiletown event set to launch new Challenge

OMAGH Motor Club’s Samsonas Fivemiletown Rally is just over one month away, but excitement is already building ahead of the event, which will not only launch the Northern Irish Gravel Stage Rally Challenge, but it will also back Air Ambulance Northern Ireland.

Having made returned to the motorsport calendar last year for the first time since 2016, the organisers were keen to build on that success and having joined the Lakeland Stages, Bushwhacker and Glens of Antrim rallies in the Northern Irish Gravel Stage Rally Challenge, they hope the event will have an added competitive edge this time around.

And with principal sponsor, Martynas Samsonas having confirmed his return in his four-wheel-drive BMW, potentially alongside a couple of other fellow Lithuanian crews in similar machinery, there is sure to be no shortage of interest and excitement on Saturday, February 22.

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The event takes place during a busy opening few weeks of the Irish rallying season, with the Donegal Mini-Stages, Galway International, Kirkistown Stages and Carrick-on-Suir Willie Loughman events taking place during the weekends before February 22, while the Birr Stages Rally takes place the day after.

“We’re hoping for a good entry and we’re hoping Niall McCullagh comes back to defend his title,” said one of the organisers, Niall McGonigle.

“Birr’s on the same weekend, it’s on the Sunday, but we can’t do anything about that and this is more of a clubman event.

“If we were to run it on the same weekend of last year then we’d have been the same weekend as Carrick-on-Suir, which just wouldn’t have been possible. I think it will be OK and the club has come together well. We have good help for it and everything is coming together and in place.”

Omagh Motor Club has also announced that all proceeds from the event will be donated to Air Ambulance Northern Ireland.

“All the proceeds are going to the Air Ambulance, so we want to get a good bit of support for that,” McGonigle confirmed. “It was a member of the committee, Richard McCrea, who came up with that one because he’s always been wanting to do something for charity.”

The Buger Hut, Omagh, will be providing catering during the event.

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Entries are due to open in the coming weeks, keep an eye on www.rallyscore.net.

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