Irish Tarmac battle set for three-day Donegal showdown

Samdec Security International ITRC

Three days and 20 magnificent stages await the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship’s contenders as the all-asphalt series heads to the Donegal International Rally.

A maximum entry of rally cars will tackle renowned stages like Malin Head, Knockalla, and Atlantic Drive across the three days of jam-packed action.

Callum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan are top seeds and will defend their maiden Donegal victory from 12 months ago. Their Irish Tarmac Rally Championship campaign suffered blows in West Cork and the Circuit of Ireland but a much-needed win in Killarney has put them back in the mix.

Seeded second, Keith Cronin has been the man on form so far in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. The 2016 Irish Tarmac Champion is looking for his third win in this year’s series.

Success in Donegal would go a long way in his bid for a second Irish Tarmac title but he faces stiff competition from a string of Donegal winners.

Those include Monaghan brothers Josh and Sam Moffett who are both seeded within the top five and Declan Boyle and Garry Jennings who are running either side of tenth seed Cathan McCourt.

Matt Edwards and David Moynihan are hoping it will be third time lucky after an accident and mechanical issues scuppered their previous two Donegal assaults. They showed their pace in both years and victory on the Circuit of Ireland proved Edwards’ speed has carried through to 2024.

Cronin holds a 13.5-point lead over Edwards in the Irish Tarmac Championship with three rounds still to go with Devine a further 17.5 points back in third. Dropped scores will benefit Cronin’s rivals with the title all to play for heading into the summer rounds.

ITRC 4 leaders Ryan MacHugh and Declan Boyle are the top Rally4 seeds in Donegal. They will be challenged by second-placed Keelan Grogan and Rally of the Lakes winner Ioan Lloyd who is making the trip from Wales.

Dylan Eves and Kyle McBride complete Rally4’s top five entries although close to ten crews could challenge for Rally4 victory.

McEvoy Motorsport Modified ITRC

Kevin Gallagher and Ryan Moore will man the first two-wheel-drive car through Donegal’s opening Malin Head test on Friday. The Darrian T90 crew, who won the modified section and finished 10th overall last year, are seeded 22nd for this year’s event ahead of the Toyota Corolla of Kevin Eves and Ford Escorts of Damien Tourish and Mark Alcorn.

A trio of Toyota Starlets will be eyeing up Donegal’s modified prize in Declan Gallagher, Richard Moffett, and David Moffett.

Scotland’s David Bogie, and National regulars Dessie Keenan and Jonathan Pringle are further two-wheel-drive contenders while Killarney Rally of the Lakes’ modified winners Colin and Kieran O’Donoghue are gunning for Donegal glory.

Frank Kelly and Kevin Eves hold third and fifth respectively in the McEvoy Motorsport Modified ITRC standings. They will be looking to make the most of the three-day event as fellow championship frontrunners Damian Toner, Kevin Kelleher, and Conor Murphy have opted out of the challenging classic.

Sherwood Engines Historic ITRC

Michael McDaid and Declan Casey top a 31-car-strong historic entry list as the historic rally begins on Saturday morning’s opener, Knockalla.

Casey is two points adrift of Anthony O’Sullivan at the front of the Sherwood Engines Historic ITRC Co-Drivers’ standings. O’Sullivan will co-drive for Meirion Evans in Donegal – Evans hoping to get his second win of the season after an impressive win in Galway with O’Sullivan.

Tomas Davies holds a strong 30.5-point lead over Craig MacWilliam in the drivers’ standings with Ray Breen just behind in third. All three will take on this year’s Donegal Rally amid a stunning historic entry featuring drivers like Tommy O’Connell, John O’Donnell, and Vivian Hamill.

Paul Browne Plant Hire & Civil Engineering Junior ITRC

The Class 16 crews will take on Sunday’s six stages – repeated drives of Gartan, Atlantic Drive, and Fanad Head.

Kyle McDaid and Shane Maguire top the 14-strong entry ahead of Jason Wilkinson and Ciaran McGinley.

Ronan Dorrian and Jordan Jervis are seeded third and fourth respectively with Paul Browne Plant Hire & Civil Engineering Junior ITRC leaders Barry McIntyre and Brian Keohone seeded sixth.

Photos by D Harrigan Images