South African rally driver to make Irish debut in Kerry
South African rally driver Ashley Haigh-Smith will make his Irish rally debut at the Kerry Winter Rally.
The surprise entry was announced at the launch of the event at the Banna Beach Resort on Sunday.
The Capetonian has a wealth of international rally experience and will make his Irish rally debut here in Kerry – subject to both Motorsport Ireland and South African Federation approval.
He will drive a Peugeot 208 R2 prepared by Donegal firm Power Tune Motorsport. His appearance in Kerry is a prelude to a full season of Irish rallying in 2022.
His Irish plans are being made possible by London-based ProVision Motorsport whose managing director, Donegal man Paul Crumlish, was the mastermind behind the late Manus Kelly’s string of international rally wins including his win on the 2018 Rally of the Lakes.
“Haigh-Smith’s international experience includes starting five rounds of the World Rally Championship in 2011 and 2012. He has also contested seven Franch championship events and was a regular in South African rallies,” said a club spokesperson at the launch on Sunday.
“However, he has not competed in a rally since 2017, instead concentrating on rallycross. His home racetrack, just outside his native city of Cape Town, is called Killarney International Raceway so we are sure he will feel very much at home here in Kerry.”
This year’s rally is one of the main events in ‘An Turas Mór – Homecoming Kerry’ festival which is well underway across the
Kerry Motor Club promoted the Kerry Winter Rally abroad and, as a result, received entries from members of the London Irish Motor Club and Welsh drivers who are either returning to Kerry or are making their debut here in three weeks’ time.
Aside from overseas entries, the club has a full house with almost every county in Ireland represented on the 140-strong entry list. As a result, accommodation is at a premium in the Ardfert, Balllyheigue and Tralee areas bringing a welcome off-season tourism boost to North Kerry.
Subscribe to get access
Read more of this content when you subscribe today.