1Breathtaking could well sum up the entry list for this year’s 20-22nd June Donegal International Rally, round 4 of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Tarmac Championship. Just about every top driver in the country, as well as from further afield, will be in Letterkenny on the third weekend in June for this great rally. Last year’s winning crew, Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly, this time in a state of the art Fiesta World Rally Car as opposed to last year’s Subaru, will head one of the strongest entries there has been for years. Former Billy Coleman Award winner Sam has already this year notched up wins on the Killarney Rally of the Lakes and last weekend the Circuit of Munster. However Sam knows full well that it will be a big ask to keep that momentum going over the three days of the Donegal Rally.
3Seeded behind Monaghan crew Moffett and O’Reilly is Lettermacaward’s Declan Boyle. The Donegal man summed the matter up when he remarked before the Donegal Rally’s Letterkenny press conference to release details of the event. “Six or seven drivers could win this. I know I’ve won rallies up and down the country, but this is definitely the one I most want to win. But sure you could try for twenty years and not win it. Isn’t that way of it!” Boyle was sensational on the rally two years ago when he beat the odds to win the two-wheel drive division in his Escort. He then switched to a Subaru and went on to win the Irish National Championship. He has won the Circuit of Ireland and Galway Tarmac series rallies this year and currently leads the Tarmac Championship points. . However he sees Donegal as his biggest challenge. Declan is keen to redress last year’s Donegal disappointment when he was forced to retire after just one stage when his Subaru suffered from a mechanical problem.
5Garry Jennings is another top competitor who wouldn’t mind redressing the Donegal balance and he is seeded at 3 this time. The Kesh man appeared to be odds on for another Donegal victory last year when he was knocked back by a road penalty. Garry was philosophical about that however, his attitude being “It just made me all the more determined to win the Tarmac Championship.” And of course he did that. When asked about this Donegal event, Garry commented. “My Subaru is still in the paint shop following the Circuit accident. It’ll not take long to get it sorted though. To tell you the truth, I’m that busy with work I’m not thinking much about the rally yet. It’ll probably be a different story though when Rory straps himself into the Subaru on the Friday of the rally. Then it will be all about winning.”
7Winning Donegal is indeed the dream they want to make a reality for nearly all the drivers in the top ten. Take Donagh Kelly for example, it would be joy beyond belief if he could put his Focus WRC at the top of the time sheets of what is his home event.
8Another driver with a huge hunger for Donegal success is Eugene Donnelly, seeded at 5. Eugene is a five times Tarmac Championship winner and well used to winning major rallies over the years, including three Donegal events. He is determined to break his jinx with the McGeehan Mini WRC and take a major win. Where better place to do it than Donegal?
9Derek McGarrity, seeded at 6 and driving the McKinstry Motorsport Impreza WRC that has brought him much success, has won many rallies over the years but not Donegal. How he would dearly love to correct that omission.
11Next in the line-up for the 20th June is Darren Gass. The Armagh man won the Tarmac Championship two years ago, and came to Donegal for the first time that year. He had a titanic battle with Garry Jennings last year, and eventually, trying to squeeze too much from his older model Impreza WRC, put the Subaru in the ditch. Darren swore he wouldn’t come back until he had a car the equal of Garry’s. Well it looks like he has done just that, as, following a two-year lay-off, Darren is back with the Melvyn Evans Impreza S12b. We can only hope that, following his break from rallying, it can all come good immediately and he is in with a chance of a fairy tale result. He certainly has the talent; Darren just needs a bit of good fortune as well to grab a decent result.
13At No.8 in the entry is Seamus Leonard in yet another Subaru. Seamus, who admittedly isn’t rallying so much these days, always seems to go better in Donegal than anywhere else, and he seems to be able to set top times against all the odds. Then at 9 is the rapidly improving John O’Donnell in yet another Subaru WRC, while the hugely talented youngster Josh Moffett rounds off the top ten in his GpN Lancer. Seeded behind Josh, at 11, is another possible contender for top GpN honours, Martin Doherty. Donegal man Martin had a massive battle with Stephen Wright for the GpN honours last year and it was only resolved when Martin was forced to retire, so no doubt he will be out to make amends this year. Seeded at 12 is the first of the cross-channel based drivers, Steve Simpson in his Impreza WRC, and he could certainly feature in the top ten before the weekend is over.
15Behind the top four-wheel drive machinery is a plethora of the best 2wd cars and drivers in the country. Gary McPhillips is the top 2wd seed in his Escort, while for many the benchmark will be Daniel McKenna, fresh from winning the BRC Jim Clark Rally. Manus Kelly, Declan Gallagher, Wesley Patterson, Frank Kelly just returned from the Barbados Rally, Damien Gallagher, Brian Brogan, they should all be in the mix over the three days of high speed rally action.
17There are another 100 plus cars in the main field of course, as well as a great line up for the Historic and Junior categories.
192014 Donegal International Rally Top Twenty One
201 Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly (Ford Fiesta WRC)
212 Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Subaru Impreza WRC)
223 Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
234 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Ford Focus WRC)
245 Eugene Donnelly/Paul Kiely (Mini WRC)
256 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
267 Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC)
278 Seamus Leonard/John McCafferty (Subaru Impreza WRC)
289 John O’Donnell/Aidan Friel (Subaru Impreza WRC)
2910 Josh Moffett/John Rowan (Mitsubishi Lancer N)
3011 Martin Doherty/TBA (Mitsubishi Lancer N)
3112 Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh (Subaru Impreza WRC)
3214 Gary McPhillips/Paul Sheridan (Ford Escort)
3315 Daniel McKenna/Arthur Kierans (Ford Escort)
3416 Manus Kelly/Donal Barrett (Ford Escort)
3517 Declan Gallagher/Ryan Moore (Starlet RWD)
3618 Wesley Patterson/Johnny Baird (Ford Escort)
3719 Frank Kelly/Liam Brennan (Ford Escort)
3820 Damien Gallagher/Mac Walsh (Ford Escort)
3921 PJ McDermott/Paul Goodman (Subaru Impreza WRC)
4022 Brian Brogan/Damien McGettigan (Ford Escort)
42Tarmac Championship points starting Donegal:-
43Overall Drivers – Declan Boyle 54: Josh Moffett 34.5: Donagh Kelly 33: Sam Moffett 32: Garry Jennings 25: Stephen McCann 22.
45Modified:- Declan Gallagher 57: Wesley Patterson 37: Mark Nangle 21: Martin Donnelly 18: Phil Collins 12: Frank Kelly12.
47Historic:- Denis Moynihan 33: Ray Cunningham 30: Mark Falvey 22.5: Ernie Graham 19.5: Philip Wylie 15: John Spiers 14.
49Clerk of the Course Eamonn McGee: as well as welcoming everyone to the rally emphasised that running the rally was a matter of teamwork allied to the efforts of many hundreds of volunteer officials and marshals, plus the support of all the community. The rally is one of the major events of the year in Donegal and makes a big contribution in many aspects. Once again safety will be very much top of the agenda and one of the keys to that is having sufficient manpower on the stages. Eamonn makes a heartfelt plea for anybody who feel they can help to make contact through the club web site –
530 or Chief Marshal Tony Boyle on 087 7566863.
55Donegal Club Chairman Brian Brogan: reiterated Eamonn McGee’s comments about the teamwork and support needed to run the rally. Brian also made a special mention of the Club`s thanks to all the residents and landowners on the route, and for all the help of the members of the Garda Siochana.
57The schedule: for the rally weekend is on familiar lines. There will be a drivers briefing at An Granian Theatre on Letterkenny’s Port Road at 9.30 on Friday morning 20th, with the first cars crossing the ramp just after noon. The stage action will start just after 13.00hrs and there will be six stages on Friday afternoon before the overnight halt at the Mt Errigal Hotel. On Saturday morning the cars will leave Letterkenny at 09.00, for service at Milford and the first of 8 stages from 10.15 am. Then it is back to Letterkenny for another overnight halt. The Sunday leg leaves Letterkenny at 10.15am, service is again at Milford, and there are 6 special stages on Sunday. The top cars should reach the finish ramp at the Mt Errigal Hotel around 17.25hrs. All this information may be found on
610 , on Twitter @Donegalrally_ie or Facebook.com/donegalrally.ie