Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Flat Out" at Rallyconnection

JOE's day out at RallyConnection

Report by Oisin Collins from Joe.ie

22/12/2011 10:10 am

Last week, JOE’s resident petrol head, Oisin Collins, made his way down to Waterford to have a go on RallyConnection’s purpose built rally track. Here’s how he got on.

Recently I made my way down to Mondello Race Park, which saw me take to the track in a single seater Formula Sheane. The buzz and excitement was amazing and I haven’t shut up about it since. However, on Friday, I was silenced (just for a little while). I was silent because I had to navigate a super-charged Ford Escort around a series of hairpin turns as I tried my best to keep the car on the straight and narrow.

I had made the trip to Waterford to have a go on RallyConnection’s purpose built rally track and I have to say, if you’re looking for the excitement of tearing around a field without the hassle of having to evade a p***ed off farmer, you should look no further.

Before I set off I checked out RallyConnection’s website to see what I was getting myself into. One line particularly jumped out. It read, “You will experience a special rally stage on a circuit of roads designed to keep you 'busy' behind the wheel.” Busy was definitely the right word to use.

My rally experience actually began just outside the RallyConnection HQ when I managed to skid on a patch of black ice outside a small cottage and nearly found myself having breakfast with the neighbours. At least it gave me taste for what was in store. It was a clear day and the temperature had been moving between -3C and -1C all morning, so shaded areas were fairly icy.

Finally, I arrived at the track, which looked as though it had been painted white thanks to the frost, but thankfully it was a clear day and the sun was just breaking over the mountains.

When I walked into the main office I was greeted by four lads from Carlow – Adrian, Niall, Dave and Dwayne – who were also there to experience what RallyConnection had to offer. This meant, of course, that they were the competition. Though I tried my best not to show it.

After our instructor Tom, the head man at RallyConnection, got the Ford Escort warmed up we got in the passenger seat and took to the track as co-drivers for a lap. To "get to know" the course.

Tom’s experience as a competitive driver was clear from the off as he threw the car into a power slide with ease around tight corners and floored it on the straights – to speeds you wouldn’t believe – making sure to keep the car inside the lines with absolute precision.

We drove eight laps around the 1km course in a clockwise direction and eight laps anti-clockwise. After that, we drove another six laps clockwise, and it was these six that were the ones that mattered because the last lap was timed. No matter how well you drove all day, even if drove better than Tommi Mäkinen himself, a mistake on the last lap meant a decent time was out of the question.

The current lap record for the track stands at around 55 seconds, which might seem easily attainable to a novice with a lust for speeding around a track sideways, but believe me, it’s not. Seeing Tom tear around the track is somewhat misleading, as he’s a pro, so he really does makes it look easy.

When you get into the Escort you instinctively feel ready to race. The bucket seat hugs you closely and keeps you nicely centred, the clutch is heavier then an elephant holding a piano and the top of the windshield is covered in a massive decal, like the proper WRC rally cars. So before you even set off your heart will be pumping.

If you get there early and you don’t think you’ve quite woken up then just wait until the Escort’s engine is unleashed. As you stand on the sideline watching the other people in your group have their go on the track (two cars are allowed on the track at one time) you get a sense of how loud the cars really are. Mountains surround the track so the echo only adds to the aural ferocity.

When you’re inside the car, however, things change. You use proper rally approved helmets, so Tom gives you directions through a built in intercom. That along with trying your hardest not to crash, drowns out any other noise. You really are kept ‘busy’ behind the wheel, but Tom is always there to lend a hand if things start to go wrong, which they did for me. Twice.

My day at RallyConnection was truly a fantastic experience, one which I can't recommend highly enough. Both myself and the lads from Carlow had great craic and we’re sure to be talking about it for some time to come. In case you're wondering, I managed a time of 62 seconds. But it was a wet day so that alone easily adds an extra seven seconds. Ahem.

RallyConnection has the two things blokes look for in a car: speed and the ability to go sideways. Very sideways. If you’re looking for a last minute Christmas present for your brother, ideas for a stag party or even a lad’s office day out then look no further. If you want to check out more about RallyConnection's prices and the activities they have to offer then go onto their website www.RallyConnection.com or contact them on:
Telephone: 00 353 (0)58 47000
Mobile: 00 353 (0)86 2572302
Email: drive@rallyconnection.com

Monday, December 19, 2011

E-vouchers from Rallyconnection.

For all last minute shoppers, we can send your gift voucher by email in time for Christmas.

Voucher discount at Rallyconnection

10 % discount of Advanced rally course until Friday 23rd December.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rallyconnection on Irish Examiner Weekend

Having a shot at adventure
By Joe McNamee
Saturday, May 14, 2011

INITIALLY, it was very appealing: a whirlwind skite around the deep south, cramming a variety of adventure activities into just two days.

Who doesn’t love a bit of hillwalking? But there was also rally driving, shooting and a spot of extreme climbing. Hmmm. You see, I’d be more your cautious type: when the doodoo hits the fan, I’m leading the panic-stricken flight, trampling over women, wearing small children as body armour, screaming like a boiled hyena. So, frankly, I need a little ‘moral support’. And that can only be provided by one man, my old compadre, Blond, James Blond (JB). "JB! Me old segosha! How do you fancy a little hillwalking around the beautiful sunny south?" "Emmmm … ?" Says JB. "Good man!" says I, "See you Friday at the crack of dawn." A few days later we are driving through a misty, magical west Waterford, in the hinterland of Dungarvan.
We crest the brow of a small lane way, chuckling about souped-up Escorts. The chuckles vanish. Nestling in a bucolic vale is a tarmacadamed circuit, loops, dips, curves, 180-degree hairpin bends. It’s Rally Connection, one of only two Irish venues authorised to issue rallying competition licences. Screaming down the home straight is a souped-up 36-year-old two-litre Ford Escort. Our gulps are deep, simultaneous; this is no longer funny. Proprietor Tom Kenneally pulls off his helmet to reveal a shiny pate and a wicked grin, wrinkling his nose at the fresh waft of Sunday driver. "Who’s first?" he asks gleefully. I bamboozle the bewildered JB into jumpsuit, balaclava, helmet and passenger seat before he can work out what has happened. Tom takes off. Actually, Tom leaves planet earth, nought to sound barrier in three seconds, 70mph into the first hairpin. With the old Escort’s arse swinging wildly behind, Tom negotiates the bend, rearing up and off into the next straight, the next hairpin. Just over a minute, he completes a circuit with a handbrake turn. A brief glimpse of JB’s face, all eyes and terror tells too much. I grow progressively queasier as Tom hurls around the circuit 10 more times before screeching to a halt. JB staggers out. "Jesus," he gasps, "I’m like jelly. That was the most terrifying thing I have ever done in my life." We guffaw, me hysterically. Last year, JB knocked out a parachute jump and a paraglide in New Zealand with nary a bother. I break into a cold sweat if I see a kite. I am going to soil myself. I am going to cry. I cannot do this. I am doing it. It is a dream. Instructor Tony is strapping me into the hard bucket seat, belts over shoulders, chest, crotch, no give like a normal car. "Can you hear me, Joe?" shouts Tom over the helmet headset. "Yes," I whimper. He presses ignition. I am pinned back, we are heading for that first bend, for death. And then a strange serenity washes over me. I am floating. We slam through, Tom gunning out of the turn, shouting a running commentary. I take in nothing. I reconnect with the car. I am, I am … enjoying myself? "You’re very quiet, Joe?" "This is effing brilliant, Tom!" Ten circuits are done in a flash, and I am scrambling into the driver’s seat. I have become my own worst nightmare, Boy Racer. Tom howls instruction: "Brake! Gear down! Off the brake! Don’t accelerate, don’t accelerate, wait until you’re nearly through the turn. NOW, JOE, GIVE IT WELLY!" I hare down the straight and into the next bend. "Stay wide, Joe, stay wide! Off the effing clutch, Joe! !! Now go! GO!" It is a drug. I drive faster and faster as the Escort and I form a bond of thrust. Into a sweeping rising bend, ! I put the boot down, find the line and rise through the curve, bulleting out the far side like a stone from a slingshot, shimmy through gentle waves of the home straight and handbrake turn. Well, Tom pulls the handbrake. Out of the car, I struggle for a nonchalant swagger, but am fizzing with adrenalin. It’s JB’s turn to take off. Like an old lady looking for a space in a crowded car park, braking to a near halt at the first hairpin. I laugh the hysterical, cruel laughter of the survivor. He never tops 40mph the whole way round, struggling in vain to master the scrawny gearstick. "That’s an afternoon in the workshop for me," says Tony pleasantly after one grinding crunch of the gears. Tom cuts JB’s misery short a few laps shy of 10. We leave — me very reluctantly, promising faithfully to return — but the clock calls. Driving off, we laugh manically. No question, we’re awake now. Read more: http://www.examiner.ie/weekend/features/having-a-shot-at-adventure-154354.html#ixzz1MXi5C500

Monday, February 28, 2011

Pfizer's Team Building Day At Rallyconnection.

Hi Tom,
Had to drop you a line to say thanks for hosting our Team building day out. We have done quite a lot of team building over the years trying out various activities. All on the day agree that this was the best yet, normally it’s hard to please everyone, but this time every man thoroughly enjoyed the rallying. What made it even more enjoyable was the extent to which you pushed us as we navigated the course, unfortunately we may have to come back to practice the hand break turn!!!.
Please pass on our thanks to your team.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Road Safety Initiative.

Posted: February 20, 2011 12:48 PM
The President of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Jean Todt, today launched Motorsport Ireland’s new road safety initiative which is supported by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and aimed at young drivers, particularly those aged between 17 and 24 who are most at risk on Irish roads. The initiative is part of Motorsport Ireland’s activity for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety which will be launched on 11 May and aims to save five million lives on the world’s roads over the next ten years. From today (16 February 2011), all participants in Irish four-wheeled motorsport will display the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety Tag which has been designed to encourage support for road safety. The tag, which has the message WEAR. BELIEVE. ACT., will reach an Irish audience of hundreds of thousands of motorsport fans with the clear message, ‘Motorsport supports safe driving’. Speaking at the launch, Mr Jean Todt said: “Our sport wants to do everything that it can to help spread the message about safe driving. Irish efforts to improve road safety have been most impressive, winning admiration around the globe. But we still believe that we can do more and that motorsport can help. Motorsport internationally has invested millions in safety. Indeed many key modern safety features like ABS brakes, tyre technology and crumple zones were developed in the crucible of motorsport before becoming standard on cars and saving many, many lives.” “This initiative is about declaring our support for safer roads and safer drivers, and encouraging our drivers, teams and thousands of fans to do the same.” Mr Alex Sinclair, Chief Executive of Motorsport Ireland said: “We know that in Ireland young people, and especially young males, are much more likely to be killed on the roads. We also know that motorsport is hugely popular, with fans turning out in their tens of thousands to support our national and international events. Motorsport Ireland is committed to promoting road safety in motorsports and this initiative will contribute to both the national and global campaigns to save lives on our roads.” Commenting on the initiative, Mr Noel Brett, Chief Executive of the RSA said: “Tragically, young men are over represented in road deaths in Ireland. In fact, young men aged between 17 to 24 years of age are five times more likely to die on the road compared to the rest of the driver population. We also know that Ireland probably has one of the highest numbers of rallying fans per head of population in Europe so it is vital that we engage with this group at their level and in their space to effect changes in attitudes and behaviour. We are delighted to support Motorsport Ireland’s initiative which will take the safe driving message straight to the most important audience. It will show that if you love driving and you love motorsport, then you should respect the roads and drive safely.” Motorsport Ireland’s message was supported by its two young Ambassadors for Road Safety, rally drivers Craig Breen (21) from Waterford, and Toni Kelly (22) from Donegal. Their messages to young drivers are simple:
o Taking risks on public roads isn’t cool. o If a young driver wants to practise their skill behind the wheel of a car, they can do so in a controlled environment through organised Motorsport events. All participants in Motorsport will now be encouraged to “Wear the TAG”, the metal badge that declares their support for the Decade of Action for Road Safety. The tag and further information on the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety is available at www.decadeofaction.org

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Recent Rallyconnection Feedback

Colin Gilsenan
Gas, Fear & Oversteer! Got up at 0530 on a rare Saturday off to make sure I'd be on time. T'was like first day at school. Only it was Rally School and I wasn't as scared and me mother didn't have to bring me. If I could have handed over more money straight after for another go I would have. It's probably only slightly ...less addictive than Crack. I've wanted to fling a Mk2 around since I was a chisler...The instructors, Tom and Tony (I think) are very laid back so don't fear a classroom heavy theory approach with fingers of warning being waved at you. They goad you in fact - power, power! Yet, keep you out of the trees. This is nothing like Playstation and all the better for it - proper noise, the smell of oil and smoking rubber (aaand occasionally clutch..). Worth it in every respect. Stunning location, nestling in the hills too as it happens. I'll be back to knock a second or two off my lap.

Colin O'Neill
Tom, just wanted to thank you all at Rally Connection for an awesome day last week, it was one of the best experiences ever and my Dad still cant stop talking about it, I will ensure to tell as many people who will listen to how great your course is. Thanks once again and i'll be back next time i'm home for a visit.

Adrian Twomey
Had a brilliant day down in the deise today,loved everything about the course and mark 2!Tom and all the troys,lovely people!will hopefully be back down with the brothers as soon as!petrol flowin through the veins all day!can't recommend it enough!

Helen Daly
Thanks Tom and the lads for a great day yesterday, Great instruction and encouragement to go faster and faster. Would recomend it to anyone who would like a taste of rallying in a very customer friendly environment. Thanks again.
Adrian Twomey
Had a brilliant day down in the deise today, loved everything about the course and mark 2!Tom and all the troys ,lovely people! will hopefully be back down with the brothers as soon as! petrol flowin through the veins all day! can't recommend it enough!
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