The 50th running of the Donegal International Rally – Ireland’s only three-day event – gets underway on Friday from Letterkenny.
There is a strong Kerry contingent, with likely frontrunners across all four categories.
Muckross co-driver Noel O’Sullivan will be reunited with Callum Devine, the same driver he guided to victory on last month’s Rally of the Lakes.
The Kerry/Derry team will use the same Volkswagen Polo RC1 that they drove to the win in Killarney over the May Bank holiday weekend.
As ever, Donegal has attracted the strongest entry of the year, with drivers like Sam and Josh Moffett, Alistair Fisher and defending British Champion Matt Edwards who will all provide a stern test for Devine and O’Sullivan who are the second seeds for the rally.
It is something O’Sullivan is well aware of as he chases his second Irish international rally win.
“I am very excited to get going on Friday morning,” he said. “There’s a long three days of rallying ahead of us and it’s near impossible to pick a winner from the entry list for this year’s rally.”
Other relatively local co-drivers in action in Donegal this weekend include Abbeyfeale’s Keith Moriarty who is alongside Sam Moffet and Millstreet’s Liam Moynihan who is on co-driving duty for Cathan McCourt.
Dublin-based Currow co-driver John McCarthy is on pace note duty for Peter Wilson in a Ford Fiesta RC2.
Rally of the Lakes national rally winners Rob Duggan and Ger Conway are taking a step into the unknown this weekend.
Duggan won the Junior element of the Donegal Rally in 2015. Three years later he finished fourth in the International section in a Ford Fiesta R5.
This year will mark the first time they will bring their Ford Escort to Donegal in an effort to add a Donegal National rally result to their CVs. The national section of the Donegal International Rally is always hard-fought with a multitude of local drivers intent on making sure the visitors won’t win.
Conor Murphy and Sean Collin are another crew in uncharted territory. They will contest the Donegal International Rally for the first time but Murphy has limited experience of the terrain having competed on a Donegal Motor Club Mini-Rally in early 2020.
Rob’s siblings Andrew and Tara Duggan are another crew set to get the Donegal experience for the first time in their Escort. Elaine NI She starts one place behind the Duggan. The West Kerry co-driver is working alongside Alan Nesbitt for this year’s event.
Fergus O’Meara and Ronald Riordan represent the Kingdom in the historic section of the rally in their Ford Escort BDA. They are joined by Rathmore school teacher Declan Casey who is co-driving for Michael McDaid in another Escort. Brian Duggan from the Healy Pass will co-driver for Luke Mcarthy. The Cork/Kerry outfit are leading the historic section of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship ahead of the Donegal Rally.
Jason Farrell and Donagh Crowley will renew their battle with local crew Ryan McHugh and Declan Boyle for honours in the junior section. Farrell won the Junior Rally of the Lakes in May, while McHugh won in Galway.
Newcomers Gary Healy and Gearoid Moynihan are also on the Junior entry list in their Honda Civic EK4.
Brosna is well represented with Chris Browne (Honda Civic EK4) and Jamie O’Rourke (Honda EG6 16) ready for their first Donegal outing.
Co-driver Amy Burke from Milltown will contest her fifth rally ever alongside Donegal’s Stephen Gallagher in a Honda Civic VTi.
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