The 2017 Modified Championship looks like being one of the most keenly contested in many years with a fantastic entry in this weekend’s Quality Hotel Clonakilty West Cork Rally. With the top five overall in the championship all competing plus some familiar faces returning it promises to be a spectacular two days action. Gary Kiernan took top points in Galway and has two top ten finishes in his two previous appearances in Clonakilty and will be one of those to watch. By contrast second and third placed Damien Tourish and Kevin Eves have never competed on West Cork before so it will be interesting to see how they approach the event. Patrick McHugh & Eugene Meegan are fourth and fifth respectively having retired last year and will hoping for better luck this time around. Jason McSweeney will be on home ground on this round but it recent years in hasn’t been a lucky rally for him with a couple of opening stage retirements and will be looking for a change of fortune.
2016 champion Ross Marshall makes the trip from Scotland while others to watch out for include Brian Brogan who won the National rally in Clonakilty last year after a tremendous drive. Frank Kelly, Wesley Patterson and John Bonner are among the others making the long trip to Clonakilty with each of the three having had very good results here in the past. One thing is for sure, the opening stage at Ring will determine who was woken up early and will set the pace for the weekend.
The Historic Championship is into its third round with the top three all in action. Keith McIvor currently holds a narrow lead and will be making his first trip to West Cork while second placed Ernie Graham was here two years ago and performed very well. The man to watch though will be Owen Murphy on his home rally having decided to try his luck with the Historic Sunbeam as opposed to his S2000 Skoda. Owen has a lot of experience on the rally having first competed in 2004 and finishing second overall in 2013. If the car proves to be reliable he will be very hard to stop. Barry Jones and Shawn Rayner are making their first appearance in West Cork as well while other championship regulars taking part include Philip McKibbin, Duncan Williams and James Hall. The Historic Rally begins on Stage 5 with the classic Ardfield test on Saturday afternoon.
T.R.O.A. Press Officer,