The Irish Tarmac Rally Championship is back. Galway International Rally’s return to its two-day format provides a fitting opener and one that is sure to challenge the best rally drivers Ireland has to offer.
Any visit to Galway in February is a test for driver, co-driver, and rally car but the 240 competitive kilometres of countryside asphalt Galway Motor Club has laid on is as tough as they come.
Galway has prepared the perfect season opener and the competitors have more than obliged. A jam-packed entry, Galway’s reward for its 15-stage itinerary.
2020 Galway Rally winners Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble lead the way on ITRC’s opening seeded entry list of the year. It will be Fisher’s first rally since his victory two years ago. He once again pilots the increasingly popular Volkswagen Polo R5.
Callum Devine and Brian Hoy follow close behind. After a challenging Ulster Rally experience, they’ll hope to return to the winning form shown in Cork, Sperrins, and Donegal last Autumn. Continuing in their Ford Fiesta Rally2, Devine and Hoy are mounting a sustained ITRC bid this year.
Meirion Evans, Josh Moffett, Jonny Greer, Cathan McCourt, and Donagh Kelly will showcase Volkswagen, Hyundai, Citroen, and M-Sport machinery in a Rally2 line-up that is set to provide a scintillating Irish Tarmac battle.
Over 25 R5 and Rally2 cars will embark on Galway’s opening Irish Tarmac round.
Up and coming international drivers Eamonn Kelly and Jason Dickson lead the Rally4 category. Andrew Burke, James Boland, and Joseph Kelly are amongst the other leading front-wheel-drive runners.
With ITRC’s recently announced European Rally Championship prize on offer at the end of the season, the battle between Rally4 Fiesta crews in this category is sure to be intense.
Galway provides a modified entry as strong as we’ve ever witnessed in Ireland. 2018 Modified Irish Tarmac Champion Kevin Eves leads the way in his Toyota Corolla. Gary Kiernan, Damien Tourish, and Chris Armstrong follow behind in Ford Escort Mk2s. 2019 Modified Champion Damien Toner is seeded 32nd in his Mk2 Escort such is the strength of Galway’s entry.
Declan Gallagher and James Stafford will look to shake up the Escort regulars in their Toyota Starlet and Darrian T90 contenders.
Galway’s two-wheel-drive winners two years ago, Jason Black and Karl Egan top Class 13 in their popular Starlet.
Richard Whelan, Wesley Patterson, Tom Flaherty, and Daniel McKenna are yet more big names to expect in Galway’s modified battle.
ITRC’s Historic crews return for their second round of the season after Neil Williams picked up an early win in Killarney last November. Williams fought off set-up issues and an energy-sucking flu to secure top points on the six-stage event.
There will be a different Historic winner in Galway as Williams is unable to make the event. But there will be plenty of contenders including Luke McCarthy, Duncan Williams, Philip Wylie, and Maurice Meskell who will continue their friendly rivalry from Killarney.
Over 15 Historic cars will tackle this year’s Galway International Rally.
14 Junior crews will kick-off their championship in Galway. The Honda Civic filled entry is led by Cork 20’s Junior winner, Jack Brunton. The Juniors will compete on Sunday’s six stages.
There really is no shortage of variety, quality, and popularity in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship’s opening event of the year. With two days of demanding stages on offer, Galway is promising to take rallying to a new level in 2022.
The Tarmac Rally Organisers Association welcomes everybody along to the Acesigns Irish Tarmac Rally Championship launch on Friday 4th February. The launch will be held at rally headquarters, The Connacht Hotel, at 19:00.
Adam Hall, ITRC Press Officer
Photo by Kevin O’Driscoll