Championship Shootout in Donegal

With the month of June now upon us, the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship is about to get even more exciting with round three, the Donegal International Rally looming on the horizon. The Letterkenny based event, which is one of the jewels in the crown of Irish Rallying, takes place from the 21st to the 23rd of June, making it the only three day rally in the country. This is the event where all of the championship contenders come out to play, and this year promises to be no different as the series is still wide open with three rounds to go, including bonus points on the final round, the Cork 20 International Rally. The main championship and modified championship now has four counting rounds from five events, while the historic championship has six rounds to count from seven with four events left.

Garry Jennings is the championship leader following his win on the Rally of the Lakes, and having won in Donegal in 2012, will be one of the favourites to extend his lead. Derek McGarrity is a Donegal veteran, and although he has never won the event, having been Tarmac Champion twice in the past could put this experience to good use. He is only four points behind Jennings in championship terms and with bonus points being awarded at the end of the second and third legs, knows how important it is to be on the ball from the word go. Keith Cronin currently lies third overall having won in Galway but is unlikely to be in Letterkenny, so next in the standings is local man Donagh Kelly fresh from third overall in Killarney. He has reportedly acquired J.J. Flemings Focus WRC in place of his Impreza WRC S11, and once he gets to grips with it, can’t be discounted.

In terms of championship success there is nobody to match Eugene Donnelly who currently lies in fifth place, but he is unlikely to be taking part in Donegal. Other registered drivers who could be in for a shout for overall honours include Sam Moffett, Declan Boyle, Darren Gass and Daragh O’Riordan. Moffett is reportedly hiring a Subaru Impreza WRC and he will be quick enough to challenge, while Declan Boyle & Brian Boyle on their home event will be looking to win the rally outright having won several national events this year. O’Riordans retirement in Killarney was a blow, but having competed in Donegal for the past few years, and as he gets more used to his potent Fiesta WRC he could get a very good result which could bring him back into the frame. 2012 Tarmac Champion Darren Gass has a lot of ground to make up, but can be expected to go very well in Donegal.

The group N battle is also intense, with Josh Moffett, Stephen Wright and Alan Ring all in the hunt for the honours, but at present only Moffett and Wright have entered the event. Fergus O’Meara currently has a comfortable lead in the Modified Challenge despite not having much Donegal experience to date, with Billy Coogan currently second in his BMW M3 and third place is tied between David Armstrong and Tommy Randles in their Escorts.  In the Historic section, Wesley Patterson currently leads in his beautiful RS1800 heading into an event he is traditionally very quick on, while his closest rivals in championship terms have not entered to date.

Competitors are also reminded that this is the final chance to register for the Tarmac Championship and in the main championship there are no entries received to date for class 6A which is a perfect opportunity for out of homologation cars to score points. Also in the Modified Challenge, there are no registrations yet for the M4 Class (Class 20 cars under MSI rules which are older 4WD cars that have been modified). Any competitor who intends to register for points will need to do so prior to start of the Donegal International Rally.

Kevin O’Driscoll

T.R.O.A. Press & Media Officer

Mobile: +353 86 286 6256