Co-driving legend Rory Kennedy to reignite Killarney memories as he makes his Rentokil Initial Killarney Historic Rally debut.

Hanging on Rory Kennedy’s office wall in Letterkenny is a very special photo.

It was taken outside the Killarney Royal Hotel in December 1990 – the day after Kennedy recorded his first of seven Rally of the Lakes wins

Kennedy is pictured with the late great Bertie Fisher and the Russian twins, Nikolay and Igor Bolshikh.

Also in the picture are the two BMW M3s, the cars both crews drove to first and second overall in the event 31 years ago.

It marked Kennedy’s first international victory and his first Irish Tarmac Rally Championship title.

That is a lot of memories.

Memories Rory is hoping to reignite this weekend.

Despite his success in the Rally of the Lakes this is his first-ever attempt at the Historic Rally.

This weekend he is co-driving for Donagh Kelly in a BMW M3.

His first Killarney win came on that famously frost affected event in 1990. He and Fisher recorded back-to-back wins from 1991 until 1994, once in a Ford Sierra Cosworth and two times in a Subaru Legacy and once in an Impreza.

That remarkable run of five in a row is unlikely to be surpassed. They won again in 1996, this time in an Impreza.

Kennedy’s last Killarney win came in 2000 when he guided Stephen Finlay to victory in a Ford Focus.

He has been back several times since, alongside drivers like Manus Kelly and Garry Jennings but always for the summer rally and never for the Historic event.

“When Donagh asked me to go, there was no hesitation,” Rory told Kerry Motorsport News. “It is very symbolic for me.”

Kennedy’s illustrious career has taken him all over the world, in 40 years of motorsport he has sat in “everything from a Hillman Imp to the current generation R5 car.”

“The BMW M3 is my favourite rally car of them all,” he added.


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