Intense Irish Tarmac season continues on Circuit of Ireland

Samdec Security International ITRC

The Irish Tarmac Rally Championship heads for its third round of the season on Saturday’s Circuit of Ireland Rally.

The Tyrone-based event takes place only two weeks after the West Cork Rally. Eight challenging stages will decide this year’s Circuit of Ireland winner.

Keith Cronin entered this year’s Irish Tarmac Rally Championship hoping to bed himself back into home competition. Two rounds in, the Ballylickey driver has blown away the opposition with two dominant victories in Galway and West Cork.

As the seven-round Samdec Security International series heads north to the Circuit of Ireland, who can stop Cronin and co-driver Mikie Galvin from making it a hat-trick of Irish Tarmac wins in 2024?

Seeded first, 2024 Circuit of Ireland winners and reigning Irish Tarmac Champions, Callum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan will hope the Tyrone stages reignite their championship challenge.

The Circuit was Devine’s first win of the season 12 months ago. The Volkswagen Polo R5 man secured his best-ever Galway Rally result in February and started out on top after West Cork’s opening day of action.

A puncture and retirement dashed Devine’s West Cork’s hopes, giving him an uphill task to overhaul Cronin’s early ITRC advantage. The Circuit of Ireland, Killarney Rally of the Lakes, and Donegal International Rally are arguably Devine and O’Sullivan’s three strongest events. If they can assert their power from now until June it could very well flip the title script on its head.

Matt Edwards and David Moynihan are seeded third for the Circuit of Ireland after a crucial runner-up finish in West Cork. The three-time British Rally Champion utilised the three-day rally to get back up to speed after his Galway retirement and his second-place result was just reward for a faultless display of driving. Now Edwards will hope to show he can match Ireland’s top drivers over a single day of high-paced rallying.

Running fourth on the road, Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes are still hunting for their first victory in the Citroen C3 Rally2. The Monaghan driver struggled in Galway and West Cork’s wet conditions but showed his stage-winning speed when the roads dried out. If the sun is out over Easter weekend, perhaps it will entice Moffett to push for that maiden win aboard his Citroen.

Ryan Loughran, Jonny Greer, Desi Henry, and Cathan McCourt will be familiar with the Tyrone terrain and on their day more than capable of challenging ITRC’s frontrunners. With Garry Jennings completing the top ten, the 2024 Circuit of Ireland is set to be a fascinating day of rally action.

McEvoy Motorsport Modified ITRC

Kevin Kelleher leads the McEvoy Motorsport Modified ITRC standings after two solid results on the opening two rounds. Kelleher’s championship lead will come under threat from fellow campaigners Conor Murphy, Frank Kelly, and Damian Toner.

Kelly and Murphy enjoyed a close encounter in Galway but both retired early on in West Cork while Toner grabbed second-place points on round two, his first event of the year.

Jason Black and David Moffett’s pair of Toyota Starlets will spice the two-wheel-drive competition up as Mark Alcorn, Johno Doogan, Damien Tourish, Camillus Bradley, and Dessie Keenan are just some of the Ford Escort flyers taking on this year’s Circuit.

It has been a while since so many freakishly fast rear-wheel-drive entertainers have started a rally in Northern Ireland so the local spectators are in for a real treat.

Sherwood Engines Historic ITRC

Tomas Davies topped off what has been a strong start to his Irish Tarmac campaign with his first ITRC win in several years on the West Cork Historic Rally. Davies scored third- and second-place points in Killarney and Galway respectively but went one better in tough West Cork conditions earlier in March.

Seeded 50th for the Circuit of Ireland, Davies leads the Historic contingent from Hugh McQuaid, last year’s Circuit winner Trevor Wilson, and Subaru sensation Ray Breen.

Andy Johnston, Alan Jardine, and Craig MacWilliam continue what is a superb array of historic rally cars set to battle over Saturday’s Circuit of Ireland stages.

Latest ITRC standings

Circuit of Ireland entry list

Photo by D Harrigan Images

Adam Hall, ITRC Press Officer