Tarmac Championship Heads for Killarney


The forthcoming May bank holiday weekend sees the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship roll into Killarney for the fourth round of the series, the Cartell.ie International Rally of the Lakes. The event, which has run since 1979, takes in some of the most picturesque scenery and challenging stages in Ireland along its route.

Monaghans Sam Moffett currently leads the championship on 40 points after a consistent start to the year with two second place scores and a third place. However last years “Lakes” winner Sam is not taking part this year which leaves the door open for Donagh Kelly who is currently lying second on the leader board. Donagh won the opening two rounds in Galway and West Cork before opting to skip the Circuit of Ireland, but will be back with the intention of reclaiming his lead and burying the ghosts of 2014 when he crashed out when leading within sight of the finish. Like his older sibling, Josh Moffett who is currently lying third in the championship, won’t be competing in Killarney so the chasing pack have a chance to make up ground.

Two Group N drivers, Aaron McHale & Brendan Cumiskey are currently fourth and fifth overall after having a terrific battle this year to date. McHale had the edge in Galway and West Cork, but Cumiskey reversed the trend on the Circuit of Ireland. There are a few drivers who will challenge for overall honours that are not as high on the championship leader board as they would have expected to be. With 2014 champion Declan Boyle non starting due to persistent mechanical problems with his Subaru, Daragh O’Riordan has a chance to make an impact in the series as his only outing came in West Cork when he finished fifth after a late puncture. Daragh usually goes well in Killarney and will be ones of the favourites for overall honours.  Garry Jennings hasn’t been seen on the series since Galway, but as an ex Lakes winner, will be well capable of taking maximum points as he did back in 2013.

The R5 category is proving to be one of the most interesting classes this year with Stephen Wright and Jonny Greer leading the way so far. However Greers car won’t be ready after the engine fire that put hi out of the Circuit of Ireland on the last stage, while good performances also been seen this season from Joe McGonigle, Paraic Duffy and Tommy Doyle at various times so far this year. The two wheel drive international has also seen some great battles so far this year, but it’s Richard Tannahill who is out in front, with Rob Duggan, Ed Twomey and Cormac Phelan all scoring well this year.

The modified championship is being led by Declan Gallagher in his customary Toyota Starlet and despite missing the Circuit of Ireland, is still well ahead. Mark Nangle from Summerhill is currently second overall in his Impreza while Ross Hunter and Frank Kelly currently hold joint third place overall. Brian Brogan & Stephen Greaney are currently joint fifth overall while local driver Fergus O’Meara will be hoping that his local event will see an opportunity to move up the leader board.

The Historic championship has been very competitive to date, but Gareth Lloyd has been the most consistent so far and he currently holds an eighteen point lead after four rounds. Denis Moynihan the reigning champion is in second place and is sure to go well on some of his favourite stages. He will see this as an opportunity to close the gap on Lloyd having only competed on two rounds so far, but picking up a maximum score on both. Ernie Graham & Joe Connolly have also featured well so far and will certainly be in the hunt for top honours while Stanley Orr who took maximum points on the Circuit of Ireland will be another to watch if he appears in Killarney. The Junior Championship currently sees John O’Sullivan at the top of the leader board followed by Richard Moore and Rob Duggan with two rounds completed to date.

The action starts at 8am on Saturday May 2nd with the traditional run up Molls Gap and a further seven stages will be run in the beautiful Beara Peninsula during the day with the first car due back in Killarney at around 5.45pm. Sunday sees an even earlier start with cars leaving Parc Ferme at 7.10am with the Molls Gap stage due to run at 8.10am. The first car is due at the finish ramp at 5.45pm on Sunday evening.

Kevin O’Driscoll