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Lakes woe for Higgins


By Sammy Hamill

Mark Higgins, favourite to win this year's Irish Tarmac championship, is missing from the line-up for round three, the Rally of the Lakes.

The triple British champion won the opening round of Ireland's premier series in Galway in February and although he retired from the lead on the Circuit of Ireland at Easter, he was still regarded as the likely title winner at the end of the season.

But it seems he will miss the next round in Killarney on May 3/4 because of funding issues - the same reason which sees last year's Lakes winner Kris Meeke and reigning Tarmac champion Eugene Donnelly on the sidelines - as the credit crunch bites hard into support deals.

"There was always a question mark over this round but I'm hopeful we will be back for the Donegal International in June," said Letterkenny co-driver Rory Kennedy who will join Higgins for the start of the British championship on the Pirelli International this weekend.

However, the Killarney rally will see the return to the series of Kevin Lynch, the three-times Northern Ireland champion listed at No.7 in an S12 Subaru for his first Tarmac appearance since the Donegal International last June.

Gareth MacHale heads the Lakes list in his Ford Focus ahead of the Circuit of Ireland winning Subaru S12B of Eamonn Boland with Tim McNulty at three in another S12B Impreza. Former Killarney winner and Tarmac champion Derek McGarrity is at four.

Top of the entry list: 1 Gareth MacHale and Craig Perry (Ford Focus); 2 Eamonn Boland and Damien Morrissey (Subaru Impreza); 3 Tim McNulty and Eugene O'Donnell (Subaru Impreza); 4 Derek McGarrity and Diarmuid Falvey (Subaru Impreza); 5 Donie O'Sullivan and Barry Goodman (Subaru Impreza); 6 Stephen Murphy and Mike Morrissey (Subaru Impreza); 7 Aaron McHale and Killian Duffy (Ford Focus); 8 Kevin Lynch and Francis Regan (Subaru Impreza); 9 Patrick Elliott and Paul Goodman (Subaru Impreza); 10 Seamus Leonard and Gerry McVeigh (Subaru Impreza); 11 PJ McGrath and Billy Collins (Subaru Impreza); 12 John Joe Fleming and Robbie Ward (Ford Focus); 14 Colm Murphy and Ger Loughrey (Mitsubishi Lancer N); 15 Kevin Kelleher and Martin Kelleher, (Mitsubishi Lancer N); 16 Roy White and Stephen McAuley (MG S2000 N); 17 John O'Sullivan and Pat Cashman (Subaru Impreza); 18 Willie Fannin and Paddy Robinson (Subaru Impreza N); 19 Brendan Cumiskey and Conor Foley (Mitsubishi Lancer N); 20 David McNulty and Martin McGarrity (Subaru Impreza).

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