Kenmare’s O’Connell chasing Australian rally title this weekend

A Kenmare co-driver is aiming to win the Western Australian Clubman Rally Championship this weekend.

Murish O’Connell is contesting Saturday’s Safari Darling Rally in Jarrahdale, about 45km south-east of Perth.

O’Connell and his driver Glenn Cawood enter Saturday’s rally as championship leaders and favourites to lift the crown. An eighth-place finish will be enough for the Irish/ Zimbabwean crew to take the title.

“The Safari Rally has a bit of a reputation for being a car killer, with the gravel roads around Jarrahdale forest rougher than our last event in Manjimup,” O’Connell told The Kerryman. “Plan for the weekend is to keep it clean and make it through.”

This year’s rally is a combination of two events, the Safari and the Darling rallies, a necessity brought about by COVID-19 restrictions and cancelled events.

The Safari, which has run every year since 1965, an Australian record, should have taken place earlier this season in the Boddington area.

The Light Car Club of Western Australian were keen to maintain the event’s unbroken record but the only date available clashed with the club’s Darling 200.

“In order to continue our historic run, the event we chose to run was the Safari, making 2020 the 56th running of the Safari,” said clerk of the course Rosemary Ann Percival “The area available to us was Jarrahdale. The traditional area and time of year for running the Darling 200. Hence the name Safari Daring Rally 2020.”

O’Connell’s title rival for the Western Australian Clubman Cup is Glenn McNeal, a former World Rally Championship co-driver who has navigated for the likes of Chris Atkinson and Toshihiro Arai.

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