By Sean Moriarty
A Kerry rally driver has set his sights on Belgium later this year.
Listowel man Ray Hilliard, who is currently based in North London has secured an entry for the Monteberg Rally in Flanders on the weekend of August 29 and 30.
The Poperinge-based rally is the first event to get the green light in Belgium after the Coronavirus pandemic shut down rallying all over the world.
Motorsport Ireland hope the sport can resume here on August 10 under phase five of the Irish government’s plan to reopen the country.
The first rally scheduled after this date is the Galway Summer Rally on August 30 but Galway Motor Club have yet to make a decision on the future of this year’s event.
In Britain, where Hilliard is based, Motorsport UK has said the rallying cannot resume until social-distancing restrictions are reduced. It is unlikely that events will run there before September.
With all local avenues blocked Hilliard turned to Belgium where he was lucky enough to be granted an entry. The rally was restricted to the first 150 applicants and Hilliard made the cut.
“I am looking forward to it, I have no idea what to expect as I have never rallied in Belgium before, but I expect we will have a bit of craic,” he said.
Hilliard will drive his Ford Escort Mk1 on the event, the car is after an extensive re-build since its last outing on last year’s cartell.ie Rally of the Lakes, after he used his lockdown time to full effect.
While it will mark his first rally outside Ireland, he will have plenty of support from fellow members of the London Irish Motor Club who have been contesting this event for years.
Other club members to secure an entry include Niall Moroney (Subaru Impreza WRC) and current Flanders International Rally Challenge champion John Reddington in his Ford Fiesta R5.
LIMC chairman, Mick Smith from Killarney, is on the reserve list in his historic-spec Chrysler Avenger but with nearly three months to the event he is hopeful of getting a run.
This article was originally published in The Kerryman. Kerry Motorsport News is the motorsport content provider for The Kerryman