The day two Kerrymen rubbed shoulders with Colin McRae. Exclusive, never-before-seen photos and a lesson in cunning co-driving skills.


A follow up to last to Easter Monday’s story on the  two Kerry competitors who entered the 1991 Circuit of Ireland Rally has uncovered another interesting side story. 

The story centres on Mike O’Leary and John Crone’s efforts on the rally thirty years ago – you can read how that went on this link –

The rally is also famous as the first time a Subaru Legacy rallied in Ireland and in the hands of a very young Colin McRae.  He dominated the rally. 

There is a Golden Rule in rallying and a crafty navigator knows the score. 

Never – Ever – Ever hand over the timecards. Never! Even when your rally is all over. Just. Don’t. Do. It. 

As can be read in the original story Mike and John retired on the second running of Coon, he 19th stage of the rally started about 15kms west of Carlow town where the centralised service park was located. 

This was late on Easter Sunday and John held a firm grip of the timecards as they took their Ford Sierra Cosworth back to their Dublin hotel for the overnight halt where their mechanics were able to fix the problem in the rear differential. 

“It’s a real pity we didn’t finish as I feel there was a top 10 finish on the cards. A story for another day…” says John. 

At the hotel, a cunning plan was hatched.  Part of Easter Monday’s route included a spectator stage in Mondello Park. 

The Kerry team (although John is a proud Cork man, he lived in Kerry at this time and was a member of Kerry Motor Club,) still had their timecards….  

“We had retired at that point but I convinced Mike to drive to Mondello and do the laps to give the sponsor, Grundig, some exposure. And as we still had the time cards, why not?” adds John. 

Since they were not ‘officially’ part of the rally, they were able to arrive at Mondello Park a long time before the leading crews got there.

John always had a keen eye for photography, and had his camera in the rally car to record a moment in history – and published here for the for the first time ever – as Mc Rae lined up for the start of the special stage. 

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