The Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, which got off to such an exciting start in Galway, now heads to the south west for the second round, the Quality Hotel Clonakilty West Cork Rally. This is the first time the rally, which has run since 1977 and is promoted and organised by Cork Motor Club, has been included as a full round of the Tarmac Championship. It is an extremely popular event in the rallying calendar, not just on the island of Ireland, but throughout Wales, England and Scotland and an overseas entry of almost thirty crews is testament to this. Over 200 entries have been received across all categories, a phenomenal amount for
Most of the main championship contenders are on the entry list and championship leader and winner of last year’s West Cork Rally Donagh Kelly is top seed in his Focus WRC. Following him is fellow Donegal man Declan Boyle who was disappointed to finish fifth in Galway after collecting a road penalty while leading. Boyle the current Tarmac Champion has never competed on the event before but will be fired up to get back to winning ways as soon as possible. Corkman Daragh O’Riordan will be wheeling out his Fiesta WRC and as a past winner of the event will be looking to get his championship trail off to a good start. Two more Fiesta WRCs appear in the top ten in the hands of the Moffett siblings, Sam and Josh, which makes the championship battle intriguing as they came home 3rd and 4th in Galway, and with the stages a little bit more technical in Clonakilty they will hope to be in with a real chance of victory.
Jonny Greer and Stephen Wright should have a great battle in the R5 category driving a Citroen DS3 and Ford Fiesta respectively and both are seeded in the top ten as well. Greer had an excellent drive in Galway particularly on the second day to come home seventh behind a host of WRC cars. Group N is also promising to be competitive with Brendan Cumiskey, Aaron McHale and Brian O’Keeffe all ready to renew rivalries after Galway where McHale came out on top. A dark horse here will be Stephen Carey who was unable to compete in Galway but who always goes well in Clonakilty and is one to be watched. The modified championship leader and 2014 champion Declan Gallagher is back to entertain the masses and will be hoping to extend his advantage. There are a number of very quick Escorts following the Donegal man and this will ensure that he will not find things easy over the course of the weekend. Last year his closest rival at the finish was Phil Collins in his Escort, and despite now admitting to be at a pensionable age, Phil has a very competitive streak burning within him and will go very well. Wesley Patterson, last year’s championship runner up is another who loves the south west stages and will also provide a strong challenge for aforementioned duo.
The Historic Championship is heading for its third round with Welshman Gareth Lloyd currently leading by ten points from Denis Moynihan the reigning champion and Ernie Graham. In fact ten of the top dozen drivers in the standings are coming to Clonakilty which should make for some fascinating (and nostalgic) battles. The top seed is James O’Mahony in his Volvo which is in recognition of his excellent performance on the event last year when he turned a 13 second deficit into a two second win on the last stage. There are also a large number of junior entrants including the likes of Conor McCarthy and John O’Sullivan. The top seed and favourite to take maximum points in this category is Rob Duggan who will have a new Ford Fiesta for the event. Remember you can follow the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship on www.irishtarmac.com , on Twitter (@IrishTarmacTROA), Facebook (Irish Tarmac Championship) and by Smartphone App (Irish Tarmac Rally Championship). Live results from the West Cork Rally can be found on http://results.westcorkrally.com and Brian & Liz Patterson will also be providing bulletins over the weekend on www.rallynews.net.