The 29-year old is no stranger to the Hyundai brand, as the Michael Barrable Motors family business, located in Airside Motor Park in Swords, has been one of the top three best performing Hyundai Ireland dealerships since it opened almost two years ago.
Robert was invited by Hyundai Motorsport to a customer test day in France last year, where he was very impressed with the power and handling of the New Generation i20 R5. The Dublin driver returned to rallying on the recent Galway International Rally, where he and co-driver Damien Connolly finished fifth overall and third in the Irish Tarmac Championship standings.
The pair will be aiming for a similar result when they take Hyundai Motorsport’s first customer offering to the second round of the series. The i20 R5 made its competitive debut at the 2016 Tour de Corse, following rigorous testing on a wide range of surfaces. Running on Michelin tyres, Robert will be hoping to take advantage of the same pace the car showed in taking WRC2 stage wins on both Wales Rally GB’s gravel stages and the tarmac of the Monte Carlo Rally.
The Barrable family have a great connection with the West Cork Rally. Robert won it at his first attempt in 2011 (driving a ŠKODA Fabia S2000), repeating his father Michael’s victory there in 2007 (Ford Fiesta WRC) – making them the only father and son pairing to have won the famous Clonakilty-based event.
Robert said: “I’m really looking forward to giving the Hyundai i20 R5 its Irish Tarmac Championship debut in West Cork. As a Hyundai dealer, I’ve been following the development of the New Generation i20 R5 very closely indeed and it has always been my intention to bring the car to Ireland – and I’m absolutely delighted that it’s going to happen on one of my all-time favourite events.
“I’ve driven the i20 R5 once and was very impressed with it. I’m hoping to have a small private pre-event test after the car arrives in Ireland, just to become a little bit more familiar with it and set it up for the Irish lanes. I’ll be giving it a good go in West Cork, but as it will only be my second rally in almost two years, I’ll be out to enjoy myself first and foremost. That said, the competitive side of me will be aiming for another championship podium finish.”