Robert Barrable says that he “can’t wait” to give the New Generation i20 R5 its Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship debut, when he makes his maiden appearance in the car at his all-time favourite event, the Quality Hotel Clonakilty West Cork Rally (18-19 March).
Barrable will be supported by Co. Kildare-based Patch Tyre Equipment (Ireland’s leading supplier of tyre and garage equipment), Michelin tyres and Swords-based Hyundai Ireland dealer Michael Barrable Motors.
The 29-year old will test the Hyundai i20 R5 when it arrives in Ireland before making the journey south from his home near Dublin for the recce and final preparations. The Cork Motor Club organised rally is close to Barrable’s heart, as victory in West Cork on his first attempt in 2011 (in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000) equalled his father’s win there in 2007 (Ford Fiesta WRC). Michael will, as always, be by his son’s side to lead the family support this year – as will Robert’s mother Linda, wife Olivia and the newest member of the Barrable family, Robert’s son Bobby; who, despite only being a few months old, will be attending his second Irish Tarmac Championship event!
Despite a rallying sabbatical lasting almost two years, during which time he raced a Ginetta G55 GT4 in the British GT Championship and a Golf GTI in the Volkswagen Racing Cup, Robert and co-driver Damien Connolly finished fifth overall and third in the Irish Tarmac Championship standings on their return at the recent Galway International Rally. The i20 R5 might be completely new to him and pre-event testing will be limited, but Robert is aiming to show the potential of the new car with another solid run and a championship podium finish.
Robert said: “West Cork is my all-time favourite rally. I love the stages, I love the atmosphere and the first time I did the event in 2011 I won. That was a great battle, as we finished just 1.3 seconds ahead of Darragh O’Riordan/Tony McDaid in their Subaru Impreza WRC S12. That was a very special victory, especially because I was very proud to follow in my father’s footsteps and win the West Cork. There aren’t many rallies in the world where a father and son have both won, and it’s very special to have achieved that in Ireland.
“I did the West Cork again in 2014 in a Fiesta R5, but we retired on the opening stage with a misfire. Whilst that was disappointing at the time, the good thing now is that I’ve done the recce twice and have a good feel for the stages. They suit my driving style, so I’m looking forward to going back – for me there is no better way to enjoy St Patrick’s weekend than competing on the West Cork Rally!
“Next week’s event is going to be extra special, as we’ll be giving the Hyundai i20 R5 its Irish Tarmac Championship debut. I can’t wait to get behind the steering wheel and drive those classic stages such as Ring, Glandore and Ardfield in the car. I might still be a little rusty when it comes to rallying, with just one rally in two years under my belt, but I’m confident we can put on a good show for the spectators and make it a debut to remember.”
This year’s West Cork Rally is a high-speed two-day affair, and to celebrate 40 years since the event first ran in 1977 there will be a new twist to the end of the first day. After four stages have been tackled twice on the Saturday, a ninth stage will run in darkness, giving drivers an additional challenge. The second day on Sunday will have six more stages, three run twice, making 15 stages in total. Over 120 cars have entered this year’s rally.