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CALDWELL TAKES MAIDEN RALLY4 CLASS VICTORY ON CIRCUIT OF IRELAND



Cian Caldwell and Liam Egan took a well-executed Rally4 class win in their Peugeot 208 Rally4 on Saturday’s Circuit of Ireland Rally – a career-best for the Meath/Galway crew.


They took the class lead on stage three and managed the lead through the remaining five tests to seal a comfortable two-minute win in difficult County Tyrone conditions.



Overcoming the difficult driving conditions, made worse by heavy downpours in the late afternoon, they kept their “noses clean” to record a well-earned and deserved victory in the hotly contested Rally4 class. 


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It was their best result of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship so far this season after a non-finish in Galway and a third-place finish in West Cork.


It was the perfect way for Caldwell to celebrate his birthday weekend.



“We had a very challenging weekend at the Circuit of Ireland with four demanding stages with a lot of driving in them,” said Caldwell.


“With the dirt being pulled out and the bad shower, it definitely didn’t help. We struggled with our pace on the first loop of stages due to being on too hard of a tyre compound but went back out for the second loop and managed to have a couple of stage wins."



“We kept our nose clean all day and managed to win the class. Absolutely delighted with this result and a massive thanks to the Rally Academy for all their help and continued support.”



A puncture deprived Ryan MacHugh of a hat trick of Irish Tarmac Rally Championship Rally4 class victories on Saturday’s Circuit of Ireland Rally.



The Donegal-based Ford Fiesta Rally4 driver and co-driver Declan Boyle set the fastest time on five of the eight stages but the unfortunate puncture on the second stage cost the Galway International Rally and West Cork Rally class-winners over three minutes.



They recovered to finish second in class and retained the championship lead ahead of the Rally of the Lakes in May.



“We got the puncture at the start of the stage so we had to stop and change it,” said MacHugh. “But we were happy with our day – it sets up the championship.”


Keelan Grogan and Ayrton Sherlock were forced to retire after a mechanical failure on their 208 Rally4 on the opening test.



Junior World Rally Champion and current M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 driver William Creighton spent “an enjoyable day” at the Circuit of Ireland Rally as a volunteer marshal.

 

Eamonn Kelly to contest Croatian National Rally in preparation for Rally Croatia

Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Eamonn Kelly will prepare for round two of the Junior World Rally Championship by contesting a national rally in Croatia this weekend.

The J-WRC moves from the snowy roads of Sweden to the bumpy asphalt of Croatia on April 18 to 21.



Kelly and co-driver Conor Mohan are one of four JWRC contenders to enter the Quattro River Rally near the town of Karlovac to give themselves the best possible preparation for the WRC counter a few weeks later.



The Quattro River Rally uses roads very similar to Rally Croatia and three of the 12 stages will be used in the WRC event a few weeks later – albeit in reverse.


“The Croatian tarmac is very different to Irish tarmac and a lot of tarmac all over Europe. it is very unique very, slippery and has a lot of big cuts. A different driving style is required so it will be nice for me to get a chance to get out in a Ford Fiesta Rally3 on tarmac on those sorts of roads,” he said.


Kelly and Mohan finished third in the Junior category in Sweden in February. More importantly, they took an emotional class victory in Croatia last year, just days after Craig Breen passed away in a testing crash in the same country.


This is their second attempt at the Quattro River Rally, a puncture on the tenth (of 12) stages deprived them of a top result last year but they are looking forward to getting back to competitive driving after the long layoff since Sweden.



“It is a great little rally. It is run very well. I cannot wait. It has been a long time since I have been in the car. Sweden feels like an eternity ago and it will be good just to get dialled back in again and try and make the most of the time we have behind the wheel,” added Kelly.


“There has been a lot of rallying going on, between the Irish and British championships and watching all the guys out racing has given me itchy feet.”

MONAGHAN RALLY

Two members of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy are contesting Sunday’s Monaghan Rally – the second round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship.



Local ace Jack McKenna, and co-driver Emmet Sherry, after an extended test session in their right-hand-drive Ford Fiesta R5 in West Cork, will be brimming with confidence ahead of their home event.



In the absence of a Cavan Rally this year, due to the Motorsport Ireland event rotation system, Craig Rahill and Conor Smith will view the Monaghan town-based rally as a home event this year.


Rahill is concentrating on the Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series but will also be hoping to score valuable Class 2 National Rally Championship points on Sunday. Class 2 is a dedicated Billy Coleman Award nomination category this season.

 



SAFARI RALLY

Irish co-driver Aaron Johnston scored a career-best second overall on the Safari Rally Kenya over the Easter weekend. The Tyrone man, alongside Takamoto Katsuta, in their Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris Rally1 set two fastest stage times on their way to their third podium together.


The weekend’s result goes one better than their previous third-place finishes on last year’s Rally Finland and the 2022 Safari Rally.


Katsuta achieved his third podium result from four starts in Kenya, repeating his second-place finish from 2021 when he had Daniel Barret alongside.


He and Johnston drove a well-measured rally, with the two stage wins on Saturday helping them overcome a double puncture that had cost them over a minute.


“What a weekend that was,” said Johnston “Thrilled to finish second at Safari Rally Kenya and earn my second podium finish at the event alongside Taka and to complete a Toyota Gazoo Racing one-two with Kalle [Rovanperä )and Jonne [Halttunen] makes it even more special. It has been an incredibly tough but enjoyable weekend on the African plains where we battled the always tricky fesh-fesh - inside the car as well as outside - rain, rocks, and the potentially treacherous terrain.”

Text By Sean Moriarty 

WRC/ ERC Photos by Red Bull Content Pool

Caldwell/Egan photos by D HARRIGAN IMAGES 

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