Eugene Donnelly has had a brief test in the Lakeland Tyres backed Mini WRC before next weekend’s Donegal International Rally and the five times Irish Tarmac Rally Champion is now very much looking forward to the event. The Maghera man with co-driver Paddy Toner in the McGeehan Motorsport run left-hand drive 01C specification Mini WRC is seeded number four amongst a magnificent line-up for this classic three day event, which starts from Letterkenny next Friday.
It’s been eighteen months since Eugene has sat behind the wheel of a competitive rally car, but he was impressed with the Mini after a short test run this week. “I wasn’t sure how I would settle in after so many months away, but I felt happy, and got into the groove again with the car reasonably quickly. We only made some very minor setting changes with Derek McGeehan to the high-speed suspension damping, but I was delighted that I still had a good feel for it” said Eugene. “I’m not sure how we will go next weekend though. There are so many drivers, who will be going very quickly, and I’m not too concerned, I really want to go and enjoy the rally.”
Co-driver Paddy Toner from Draperstown who lifted the Irish Tarmac title with Eugene in 2009 is very much looking forward to it. “It’s nice to be back” said Paddy. “It will take a bit of getting used to the speed again- focusing on the notes, and maybe we are seeded a bit too high! There is a magic to Donegal however and I have great memories in the Fabia in 2009, despite a few wee problems that year. It was all part of a great year, and of course with McGeehan Motorsport as well, who very much a home team, as they are based right beside my house! The brief run went well and Eugene seems happy so I’m very much looking forward to getting out on the recce and seeing what the stages are like.”
The McGeehan Motorsport team, so much a part of the extraordinary Donnelly Motorsport success, and led by technical guru Derek McGeehan has turned out the ex Dani Sordo 01C Mini WRC in immaculate condition. “This car was the last one rallied by Prodrive and the 01C has some of the weight transferred lower down in the car compared to the previous version, but the differences are quite minor” said Derek. “It’s nice to have Eugene back out again, and he certainly seemed to switch on to it quickly again. Still he hasn’t had much seat time, and that could be important next weekend on the stages. Most of the competition have been out a lot lately. We will just have to wait and see.”
Not only are Lakeland Tyres and McGeehan Motorsport behind “the Genies“ Donegal return, but other sponsors such as Protune Remapping, Sligo Pallets, PPP Group, McPartland Fuels- Coal Merchants, Rally Cover Insurance and Rallysales.eu have all come on board to assist. Now it’s up to Lakeland Tyres- Group Manager- Eugene and co-driver Paddy Toner to make detailed pace-notes in the pre-event recce and join a star cast of tarmac rally chargers for what promises to be an epic weekend in the West.
Keep track of the latest updates on the Lakeland Tyres Mini WRC on Facebook- Lakeland Tyre Service, and Twitter-@lakelandtyres www.lakelandtyres.com or Facebook- Donnelly Motorsport, Twitter-@Eugene_Donnelly www.donnellymotorsport.com