By Cian Donnellan
The 2023 Sligo Pallets Forset Rally Championship is set to be contested over seven exhilarating days of high-speed loose surface action, with each of our events bringing a unique element and style which combined make this season one very much worth looking forward to.
The action kicks off this weekend with Sunday’s Killarney Forest Rally, where a field of 75 crews are set to tackle six special stages to the East of Castleisland, the base for the event once more this year. Heading up the entry is 2022 Championship Runners-Up Jordan Paul & Paul Hone. The Derry family team are aiming to push on from their final day anguish last year and go one better to claim the title in their Ford Fiesta R5.
Behind them on the road, Keith Power/Seamus O’Grady will aim to improve on a remarkable third place finish in their debut campaign in a similar Fiesta R5 to the Hones, Niall McCullagh/Ryan McCloskey compete in a newer Fiesta Rally2, while Vivian Hamill/Andrew Grennan will compete in a Volkswagen Polo Gti R5.
Other notable entries amongst the 4WD contingent include David Condell/Greg Shinnors swapping a Class 14 Ford Escort Mk2 for a Fiesta R5, fellow regular MK2 competitor Gary Kiernan taking the wheel of a Mitsibushi Evo iX and youngster Ryan Caldwell making his 4WD Championship debut in his new Skoda Fabia R5 following a remarkable run to the Class 2 title last season.
In the 2WD section, top seeding is given to last years winners Mickey Conlon/Paul McPhillips, the Ford Escort Mk2 pairing will have their hands full on the day competing with long term rivals Hugh McQuaid/Declan Casey & Steven Corey/Ella Ryan in similar Fords, while Mike O’Connor Jnr/Barry Attridge will add some variety to the battle with their Opel Manta.
While the 2WD section has long been dominated by the rear-wheel-drive crews, 2023 is set to be a mouthwatering opportunity for a strong roster of rising stars to make a splash with their performances in the Sligo Pallets Forest Rally Championship. Kyle McBride/Liam McIntyre will be catching plenty of looks with their Motorsport Ireland Academy liveried Ford Fiesta Rally4, while Casey Jay Coleman/Shane Buckley and Dylan Eves/Ryan Farrell also compete in similar machines.
As in previous years, the Sligo Pallets Forest Rally Championship remains a strong supporter of the development of the next generation of talent in the sport, and the prizes on offer for the Junior 1000 championship has been boosted with the addition of a remarkable Tuition Day being offered.
The Winning Junior Driver will receive a place within the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy as well a sizeable package of Training and Coaching. The J1000 Tuition Day, taking place April 11th in Tynagh, Co. Galway, will allow all registered drivers to get one-on-one training in their own cars from leading driving talent, as well as discussions on car setup, fitness and event preparation.
The 2023 Sligo Pallets Irish Forest Rally Championship Calendar:
Round 1 – 19th Feb – Killarney Forest Rally
Round 2 – 15th Apr – Moonraker Forest Rally
Round 3 – 14th May – Tipperary Sean Conlon Forest Rally
Round 4 – 20th Aug – Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally
Round 5 – 2nd Sep – Lakelands Forest Rally
Round 6 – 16th Sep – The Bushwhacker Rally
Round 7 – 8th Oct – Willie Loughman Carrick-on-Suir Forest Rally
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