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Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy members set for Rally of the Lakes



Rally of the Lakes

 

This weekend’s Rally of Lakes, the fourth round of the Irish Tarmac Championship counts towards the Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup and the all-important Rally4 class. There is plenty of Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy interest in both categories that run alongside each other.


Leading the Rally4 class in the ITRC after the opening three rounds is the Donegal crew of Ryan MacHugh and Declan Boyle.



The class winners in Galway and West Cork will be looking for a hat-trick on this weekend’s two-day event that will take place on world-class stages around Killarney and the stunning Beara Peninsula. The Ford Fiesta Rally4 crew are the second seed in the class.



“I am looking forward to Killarney this year. the last time I was in Killarney we didn’t have much luck but looking to change things this year by getting a good recce done on Thursday and Friday and hopefully carry are speed over from the last outings,” he said. “It’s going to be a very tough rally as they are hard stages and some of the guys done these stages last year.”


Cian Caldwell and Liam Egan lead the Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup in their Peugeot 208 Rally4 after a solid second place in West Cork and an under-the-radar run to fourth place on the gravel roads of the Severn Valley. They carry 2023 Killarney experience into this year’s rally.


“I am looking forward to the Rally of the Lakes next weekend. We completed recce this weekend and we will be rallying some of the best stages in the country,” said the County Meath-based driver.


“The competition will be tough in the RC4 class so we will have to make sure we’re on the pace from the first stage Saturday morning with the iconic Moll’s Gap.”


Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy crew Keelan Grogan and Ayrton Sherlock are fourth in the ITRC standing ahead of the Rally of the Lakes.


“The stages in Killarney look good and the competition is as strong as ever so it is looking like it will be a big weekend,” said Grogan.

Kyle MacBride and co-driver Darragh Mullen will be hoping to put a recent run of bad luck behind them. Although performing well on gravel they have yet to come to full terms with their new Peugeot 208 Rally4 on tarmac.


They will count on previous Rally of the Lakes experience as they finished second in the class last year in a Ford Fiesta Rally4.



“I am looking forward to getting back into the car on tarmac, I have only ever done a handful of stages in the car on tar, so it is going to be a baptism of fire going up Moll’s Gap on Saturday morning,” he said. “It is going to be a challenge with some great competition.”

The Rally of the Lakes opens with the iconic Moll’s Gap stage on Saturday morning - the famous test between Killarney and Kenmare features just once on the itinerary this year. Two loops of The Healy Pass, Cod's Head and Ardgroom follow during Saturday, with service in Castletownbere after each run over the Healy Pass.


The final stage of the day is Kilmackillogue before the crews head back to Killarney for the overnight halt.


Sunday's action is in the Rathmore and Gneeveguilla areas, east of Killarney, and features six stages in all, consisting of two loops of Gortnagane, Meentoges and Ballintourig, with one service at the Liebherr Container Crane factory in Fossa.

 

MAIDEN CITY RALLY

Several co-drivers with  Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy support performed exceptionally well on Saturday’s Maiden City Rally in Derry.


Shane Byrne recorded his ‘maiden’ victory in the event. He and his driver Desi Henry led from start to finish to record an impressive 14.8-second victory over reigning Irish Tarmac Rally Champions Callum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan in their Citroen C3 Rally2.


“I am delighted to get my ‘maiden’ win on the Maiden City rally. Desi drove a great rally,” said the Donegal-based co-driver.





“We went on a push on the last two stages to try and keep Callum behind but we were nursing a misfire too which added to the last-stage drama. It was great to get it over the line and get the win, a special one for me as it’s my first and one I’ll not forget.”

Darragh Mullen, Kyle McBride’s usual partner, got a last-minute call-up to guide Michael Boyle on the Maiden City Rally.


The Volkswagen Polo Gti R5 crew finished fourth overall – just 9.7 seconds behind third-placed Jonny Greer and Niall Burns.


An earlier mechanical issue may have cost them the elusive podium spot!


“Unfortunately on the first stage we had a small issue with a sticking throttle which cost us some time and knocked the confidence a little, but after a quick fix before stage two we were able to get settled in and back to business to finish a fine fourth overall,” said Mullen.


“A credit to Michael on brilliant driving all day and showing excellent pace all day, Now the focus moves to Killarney with Kyle McBride where we hope to continue the good form from our second place finish last time out at the Severn Valley Rally.”

Ryan Farrell is also on the Rally Academy’s radar, having previously co-driven for Cian Caldwell on the Galway International Rally, he was on pacenote duty for Johnnie Mullholland in Derry. The Ford Fiesta Rally4 crew finished first in class and 18th overall.


Déjà Vu Sligo

Two Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy drivers took part in Déjà vu Sligo on Saturday.

The charity event raised money for ‘Rallying Friends,’ a fund set up to support the families of Gene Mc Donald and Daire Maguire who sadly lost their lives in an accident on the Sligo Rally in July 2023.



Junior World Rally Champion William Creighton shared the driving duties with his father Niall in the family’s historic-spec Ford Cortina.



Current J-WRC frontrunner Eamonn Kelly drove an ex-Richard Burns British Rally Championship-winning Prodrive Subaru Legacy on the event that also visited his father Donagh’s rally museum in County Donegal.



WRC commentator Becs Williams was one of the guests of honour at the event.

Meanwhile, Kelly will attend this weekend’s Rally Islas Canarias where he is offering on-event support to junior drivers Aoife Raftery and Jack Brennan on the second round of the FIA European Rally Championship.



Text By Sean Moriarty

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