Four-time British Rally Champion Keith Cronin and his Killarney co-driver Mikie Galvin are the second seeds for Sunday’s Birr Rally.
The County Offaly event is the second round of the Triton Showers Irish National Rally Championship, but this is the local crew’s first appearance of the year.
In fact, they haven’t competed together on home soil since the 2018 Circuit of Munster Rally in Limerick after spending last season competing in the British Rally Championship.
They will drive the same Volkswagen Polo RC2 that Keith’s brother Daniel drove to fourth overall on the recent West Cork Rally.
“I am looking forward to seeing what the Polo is like, it should be quick,” said Galvin.
The rally’s top seed is Monaghan’s, Josh Moffett. The Hyundai i20 RC2 driver has won every rally in Ireland so far this year (Galway, Mayo and West Cork) and he is going for four in a row. He will be co-driven by Abbeyfeale’s Keith Moriarty on Sunday.
Noel O’Sullivan Jr returns for a second rally alongside Darren Gass in their rare Citroen C3 RC2 after a good run to fourth in Mayo. They are seeded at eight for the six-stage event.
Paul Barrett starts two cars behind in a Ford Fiesta RC2 – the Kildare-based Barrett family has strong Ballyduff connections.
Elaine Ni She is alongside Alan Nesbitt – they worked together in Mayo for the first time too and are planning an assault on the full national rally championship.
Headford’s Ger Somers, for the second time this year, partners with County Down’s Raymond Spence in a Class 13 Ford Escort.
Lixnaw-based co-driver Keith McCarthy will compete alongside Neil Phelan in another Escort – the crew were happy to make the finish in Cork after a nasty accident that had them on the side-line since last September.
Eddie Kennelly and Paul McGlinchey have the mechanical issues that stopped their Ford Escort Mk2 in Galway in February sorted out. The rally is also a counting round of the Top Part West Coast Championship and the North Kerry team are long-time supporters of the locally sponsored regional championship.
It is a sort of a home event for Gearóid O’Regan. The Ballyheuige native and Kerry Motor Club member is a headmaster in a school in Banagher.
He has a newly acquired Honda Civic for the event and Tralee’s Tony McCarthy will co-drive.
Two local crews face an anxious wait this week as they have been placed on the reserve list.
West Kerry man Alan O’Sullivan hopes to drive his Ford Escort for the first time since the Killarney Historic Rally last November. Knocknagoshel’s Ian Horgan and his Abbeyfeale co-driver John Michael Kennelly are another crew on the reserve list.