The Acesigns Irish Tarmac Rally Championship travels to the ever-popular West Cork Rally for its second round of 2022. A fully booked entry of 200 cars is West Cork’s reward for putting on a two-day international rally that is always savoured by crews, spectators, and locals alike.
West Cork’s 14 stages over Saint Patrick’s weekend include favourites Ardfield, Ring, and Sam’s Cross.
Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes will be hoping to continue their impressive form so far this year. The Galway International Rally winners are seeded second in West Cork as they bid for their and Hyundai’s first win in Clonakilty.
Moffett’s i20 R5 will follow Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble’s Volkswagen Polo R5 down West Cork’s opening Ardfield test. The Fermanagh-Tyrone crew had a tough start to their latest Irish Tarmac campaign. A puncture and collision with a bank on Galway’s final day of action meant they left round one seventh in the championship standings.
Fisher was Craig Breen’s nearest challenger in West Cork three years ago, the event hasn’t run since 2019, and the Polo pilot will be hoping to reinvigorate his championship challenge with that form.
West Cork’s top three seeds are completed by Galway’s third-place finisher Callum Devine. The Ford Fiesta Rally2 driver will be joined by co-driver Shane Byrne for the first time.
Galway runner-up Meirion Evans cannot be ruled out as a West Cork contender. His pace on round one was recognised by many as he and Jonathan Jackson took the fight to Moffett in typically Irish conditions.
Top-five challengers in Galway; Garry Jennings, Cathan McCourt, and Daniel Cronin all continue their campaign in West Cork. They’ll be joined by Jonathan Greer who gives the Citroen C3 Rally2 its Irish Tarmac Rally Championship debut and Owen Murphy who brings his R5 Fiesta to the Saint Patrick’s Day party.
After a debut R5 drive earlier this month, Eamonn Kelly and Conor Mohan will hope to bounce back from their DNF in Galway’s Rally4 category. They lead the RC4 entries in West Cork ahead of Galway’s class winner Ryan Caldwell and runner-up Joseph Kelly.
James Boland, Jason O’Rourke, and Aoife Raftery round out the competitive category.
Gary Kiernan and Darren O’Brien came out on top of Galway’s gruelling opening round. They’ll welcome the challenge of Kevin Eves and Chris Melly in their repaired Toyota Corolla after its argument with a stone pier in Galway.
Jason Black and Karl Egan finished a remarkable second in Galway’s modified section despite having to change a puncture mid-stage on the opening day. Their impressive performances have encouraged the young Toyota Starlet crew to make its West Cork Rally debut.
Talented Killarney driver, Robert Duggan will provide a new threat in the modified battle which has a plethora of potential winners including Galway non-finishers Daniel McKenna, Declan Gallagher, and Chris Armstrong.
2019 Irish Tarmac Modified champion Damian Toner finished second to Mikko Hirvonen in West Cork three years ago. The Armagh driver will have to be at his best to go one better this year.
West Cork’s Historic battle may very well go down in history as no less than 25 crews tackle the south coast event. West Cork is the Historic’s third round of the Acesigns Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. Honours have been split between Neil and Duncan Williams so far with both drivers entered for West Cork.
Two top-three points finishes for Maurice and Steve Meskell put the Ford Escort Mk1 crew second and first respectively in the drivers’ and co-drivers’ standings, four points ahead of Luke McCarthy and Brian Duggan.
Ray Breen returns to the championship in his repaired Subaru Legacy with Italy’s Tamara Molinaro reading his pacenotes.
13 Junior crews have entered the West Cork Rally, with all but one crew in Honda Civics. The Class 16 Juniors will do battle across West Cork’s six stages on Sunday. Jason Farrell, John Michael Kennelly, and Robbie O’Hanlon continue in the Irish Tarmac Championship after completing the junior championship’s podium positions in Galway.
ITRC standings after Round 1
1 // Josh Moffett / Andy Hayes – 17 points
2 // Meirion Evans / Jonathan Jackson – 14 pts
3 // Callum Devine / Brian Hoy – 12
4 // Garry Jennings / Rory Kennedy – 10
5 // Cathan McCourt / Liam Moynihan – 8
6 // Daniel Cronin / Shane Buckley – 7
7 // Alastair Fisher / Gordon Noble – 6
8 // David Kelly / Dean O’Sullivan – 5
West Cork Rally entry list (top ten)
1 // Alastair Fisher / Gordon Noble (Volkswagen Polo R5)
2 // Josh Moffett / Andy Hayes (Hyundai i20 R5)
3 // Callum Devine / Shane Byrne (Ford Fiesta Rally2)
4 // Meirion Evans / Jonathan Jackson (Polo R5)
5 // Cathan McCourt / Liam Moynihan (Fiesta Rally2)
6 // Garry Jennings / Rory Kennedy (Fiesta R5)
7 // Daniel Cronin / Shane Buckley (Polo R5)
8 // Jonny Greer / Dai Roberts (Citroen C3 Rally2)
9 // Owen Murphy / Anthony Nestor (Fiesta R5)
10 // David Guest / Jonathan McGrath (Fiesta R5)
Cover Photo by Ruaidhri Nash
Adam Hall, ITRC Press Officer