The Entry list for this weekend’s Rentokil-Intial Killarney Historic rally reads like a who’s who of the rally world!
The 150 car field boasts several former Irish and British champions, multiple international rally winners and a host of regional title holders.
Top seed is Northern Irish driver Ryan Barrett, and his local co-driver Diarmuid Lynch in their Ford Escort Mk2. Barrett has never won in Kerry but is a British Historic Rally Championship front-runner and former winner of the classic section of Rally Isle of Man. Armed with Lynch’s local knowledge the pair will start as firm favourites to win the seven stage rally .
They won’t have it easy though, behind is former Irish national rally champion Melvyn Evans. The Welshman has finished third overall for the last two years and is keen to add the Kilarney title his portfolio of Irish wins.
Third seed, Seamus O’Connell is no stranger to event wins at this level, he counts the Donegal Historic Rally amongst his greatest victories and has employed local man Brian Duggan to guide him around the Kerry roads.
Also among the leading entries in the Historic section is Steve Perez British Rally Champion 2010 and also British Historic Rally Champion 2014, he will be driving his extremely popular Lancia Stratos rally car. Rally legend Jimmy McRae also returns to Killarney, the five-time British Rally Champion and seven -time winner of The Circuit of Ireland is looking forward to the event driving his Vauxhall Firenza Can-Am.
Irish Historic Rally Champions of 2014 and 2015 James O’Mahony and Ernie Graham have both entered in their Ford Escort RS1800s. Gareth Lloyd finished second to Graham in this year’s Irish title race and he is another driving chasing victory. Current Irish National and Tarmac champion Donagh Kelly is another in the impressive line-up driving his Ford Escort Mk1 and former Irish Forestry champion Owen Murphy is at the wheel of a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus.
The Modified men
Five-time Scottish champion David Bogie makes his Killarney debut. A former British winner, the Scots man is one of the leading lights of the modified section of the rally that also includes Hereford-based legend Phil Collins but their main opposition will come from Chris Armstrong and Declan Gallagher , the winners of this section in 2014 and 2013 respectively. Add in other fast Escort men like Jack Newman, Trevor Mulligan , Gary Kiernan and Wesley Patterson.
Top Local Historic competitors include Mark Falvey from Rathmore in his Ford Escort Rs1600. The experienced Pat Looney, the young Aidan Buckley and along with Southern 4 championship winner Donal O’Connor from Rathmore will all be pushing hard for top local honour in their Ford Escors. . Killarney’s Aidan Kennedy and Glenbeigh’s Jack O’Shea also head the Mini Cooper line up.
Leading local crews in the Modified category include Eddie Murphy, Fergus O’Meara, Tadhg O’Sullivan, Denis Hickey, Con Lucey, Noel O’ Sullivan, Cyril Warton, Vincent O’Shea and The Hickey Brothers of Charlie and John Hickey who will all field Ford Escorts.
Event and Route details:
The rally will count as the opening round of the 2016 Clonakilty Black Pudding Irish Tarmac Historic Rally Championship and the final round of the Plasticbags.ie Southern Four Rally Championship.
. The event, which provides a welcome end of season boost to Ireland’s tourism capital and is worth millions to the local economy, will once again be hosted at the Gleneagle Hotel as Rally Headquarters.
In conjunction with Greg Crozier of the Barbados Historic Rally Carnival there is a fantastic prize on offer to the winner of the historic section of the rally. The prize includes an all expenses paid trip to contest the Barbados event, free entry to both motor sport events during the Carnival, two return flights from London to Barbados, free return shipping for one car from Portsmouth dock to Barbados and accommodation for 12 nights.
The rally starts on Friday evening with a ceremonial start in main street Killarney at 7.30pm.
The real action gets underway on Saturday morning with the iconic “Molls Gap”, often rated by rally drivers as being the best and one of the most-challenging stages in the world.“Coolick” the Kilcummin village stage is always a favourite, just north of Killarney town, the stage runs straight through the village offering a great spectacle for the many fans to view. “Anablatha” is a newly designed stage in the Gneeveguilla area, sections of which have been used in the past by the Rally of the Lakes, it’s a fast flowing stage with great surface and many junctions.
“Gortnagane” which runs parallel to the main Rathmore/ Killarney road, is highly regarded as one of the most technical, narrow, and demanding stages of Killarney rallying. The second run over Gortnagane, will be run under the cover of darkness.