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Rally Academy members geared up for Mayo Rally

Updated: Feb 28



After the very successful second Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy development day for 2024, yesterday in Athlone, it is a busy time of the year for Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy members with events in Mayo, Tyrone and Cork all on the horizon.



Watch a video summary of the day


The Triton Showers Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship makes a welcome return to County Mayo this weekend and there is plenty of Rally Academy interest in the 150-strong entry list.




Craig Rahill and Conor Smith Ford lead the Academy’s challenge in their Ford Fiesta Rally.


As the rally is the second round of the Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally series the Cavan-based crew will hoping to capitalise on their third-place finish in the Killarney Forestry Rally two weeks ago. Mayo will be only their second start on tarmac in Rally4 machinery and the 2023 Billy Coleman Award finalist knows he is facing a stern challenge.


“I have only done three stages on tarmac in this car previous to this event so there is still a lot to learn with this car on tarmac,” said Rahill.

Watch Craig in action


“This will also be our first time writing our own notes so that will be a challenge but we have developed our pacenote writing skills in the last two Academy Development days so we are now confident to produce a good set of notes. We seeded the first Rally4 car on the road but the pace will be hot behind, hopefully, we can keep out in front.”



County Meath’s Cian Caldwell will have Galway-based co-driver Liam Egan back in the hot seat for the first time this year.


“I am looking forward to getting back out on tarmac for the Mayo Rally.  We are looking to make more improvements with the Peugeot and to be on a good pace from the first stage,” he said.  

“This will be a tough rally with the stages being mucky and slippery and will be a tight days’ racing against Casey Jay Coleman, Dylan Eves, Craig Rahil and Matthew Boyle.”


Siblings Mossie and Megan Costello continue their campaign in that championship in their Ford Fiesta Rally4 following their success at the recent Killarney Forestry Rally. On that occasion, they had the distinct honour of being the first all-Kerry crew over the line. Although not an Academy member Costello receives Motorsport Ireland support as a result of his strong 2022 performance in the Junior 1000 championship.


The Mayo Rally is the opening round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship and the Top Part West Coast Rally Championship as the first tarmac event in the MIJRS championship and the Kerry crew are going to register for all three.


“It will be my first time doing this event. The stages look good and fast and no doubt there will be a battle all day in Class 2,” said Costello. “Hopefully we will gain some good points for the MIJRS, Triton Showers and West Coast championships. Thanks to all my sponsors and everyone for their support.”



Meanwhile in Tyrone on Saturday defending Sligo Pallets Motorsport Ireland Forestry rally champion Ryan Caldwell marked his first outing of the year by finishing in fourth place in his Skoda Fabia R5.



Ryan MacHugh added to his Galway International Rally class win by claiming victory in Class 2 in his Peugeot 208 Rally4.

  

Elsewhere, it was confirmed at the launch of the West Cork Rally in Clonakilty on Sunday that Junior World Rally Champion William Creighton will compete in the March 15 to 17 event.



After competing in Rally Sweden as part of a seven-event WRC 2 schedule for the year, Creighton is using the event to gain experience in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta  Rally2 as he builds towards the first WRC tarmac outing in Croatia.



Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan have great memories of West Cork, having set some incredible times in 2022 and 2023 in their Fiesta Rally3 but they also tackled the event three times in a Peugeot 208 R2, winning their class in 2019.


Co-driver James Fulton, the regular partner to the Rally Academy’s Josh McErlean, guided Kris Meeke to victory in Rali Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Boticas e Cabeceiras de Basto.


The Tyrone/Cavan crew are contesting the 2024 Portuguese Rally Championship under the Hyundai Portugal banner.


Text by Sean Moriarty

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