West Kerry’s contribution to motorsport history
On Friday this week, kerrymotorsportnews.com will publish a long-read feature on Racing Point Formula One engineer Sósanna Ní Dhubháin.
Sósanna has strong West Kerry roots so as a prelude to Friday’s feature, take a look at the not so small contribution the Dingle Peninsula has made to the history of Kerry Motorsport
West Kerry has played a significant role in the history of motorsport in County Kerry.
The 1974 Circuit of Ireland Rally was ultimately decided on Slea Head late on Easter Sunday. For the best part of three days Cahal Curley and Billy Coleman swapped the lead and only a handful of seconds separated the two best Irish drivers of the era when they arrived at the stage start near Ventry.
Both Curley and Coleman got caught out on a slippery farmyard junction a few short miles into the test. Curley’s Porsche emerged unscathed. Coleman was not so lucky. The Ford Escort driver lost seven minutes. While he recovered to finish third, Curley had a relatively easy run to the finish in Belfast.
Kerry Motor Club has used West Kerry roads for its annual Circuit of Kerry National rally, regularly, between the early 1980s and up until 2006 when the rally was based out of the Skellig Hotel in Dingle.
Welsh visitor Melvyn Evans, the first overseas driver to win the Irish National Rally Championship described Slea Head as worthy of inclusion in the World Rally Championship and likened the roads there to Corsica.
Local co-driver Elaine Ni She, well known for her TG4 and Radio Na Gaeltachta rally broadcasting work, says her love of the sport came from the fact that the Circuit of Kerry Rally passed her Baile na nGall home.