Quirke Sandblasts his way to third

Kenneth Quirke’s run of bad luck in American rallying changed for the better after he recorded third overall in the two-wheel-drive section of the Sandblast Rally on Saturday, March 6.

West Kerry native, Quirke and his driver Liam McNelis contested the Cheraw, South Carolina rally in the Monaghan man’s Ford Fiesta R2.

After nine stages over sandy roads in the Sandhills State Forest and H. Cooper Black Recreation facility in the Chesterfield County region, they finished 14th overall and third in the two-wheel-drive rally.

It marked the first time Quirke stepped on a podium of a US rally. His previous best result was a class win on the Southern Ohio Forest Rally last July.

Since then, he has contested several US rallies including National Championship events like the Ojibwe Forest Rally, the New York Forest Rally and Sno* Drift with various drivers.

Team Ireland at the Sandblast Rally in South Carolina

Apart from fourth overall in the two-wheel drive section of the Raven Rock Rallysprint in Kentucky last August, Quirke has failed to make the finish of all the other events.

Saturday’s result marks the end of that run of bad luck.

“The rally was great. So much fun being in a car on the sand. So forgiving if you did go wide or came into a bend too fast. We could have done with four-wheel-drive for the soft sand but I guess that’s all part of the craic,” he said. “We were trying our hearts out to build up speed again but once we were moving it was great. The car ran great! Not a bother to all the abuse it took spinning away on the sand for nine stages. With no recce and never seeing the notes before it was interesting but a massive weekend’s craic.”

Quirke’s next event is the Rally of the 100 Acre Wood in Missouri on March 19 and 20.

He will team-up with Sandblast Rally winner Martin Donnelly in Ford Fiesta R5.

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