Kerry Motor Club, organisers of next month’s Rose Hotel Circuit of Kerry Rally face a welcome headache this week.
Over 200 entries have been received for the April 2 event. Current rules only permit 150 starters.
Entries close on Tuesday of this week and the official launch of the rally takes place on Wednesday night at the Rose Hotel.
Kerry Motor Club will publish a selection of the accepted entries at the launch. The rally is a round of three different championships, The Triton Showers National Rally Championship, the Toip Part West Coast Championship and the Moriarty’s Central Car Sales King of Kerry Rally Championship and all three have different priority entry rules that the club will have to apply to whittle the 200 entries down to the required 150.
What is certain is that the rally will have a substantial overseas entry. Multiple Scottish champion David Bogie is certain of an entry under National Championship rules, as is London-based Donegal man Paul McDevitt.
Cork driver Darragh O’Riordan won the last Circuit of Kerry in 2019 and he is both certain of a start and will be the number one seed under the previous winners’ rules.
Derry’s Callum Devine won the opening round of the Triton Showers National in Longford earlier this month. He and his Killarney co-driver Noel O’Sullivan will also be certain to start under National Championship rules.
They will be hoping for better conditions than last Sunday. The Volkswagen Polo Rally2 crew finished fourth on the traditional St Patrick’s weekend West Cork Rally. They started day two in third place but were overtaken by Robert Barrable and Gordon Noble who jumped from fourth to second over Sunday’s treacherously wet loop of six stages.
O’Sullivan was the leading Kerry competitor in West Cork – not all survived the high attrition event.
Kenmare co-driver Vincent O’Shea and his Killarney co-driver Eoin O’Donoghue were the first all-Kerry crew to finish the Clonakilty-based rally. They found the going extremely difficult in the wet and muddy conditions in their Darrian T90 kit car. They finished 41ST overall. Interestingly, O’Shea will be assured a Circuit of Kerry entry as he won the inaugural Top Part West Coast Championship in 1993.
Ray O’Neill, from Milltown and his debutant co-driver Jason O’Connor from Ballyhar were another to get through the challenging two-day rally. The Ford Escort crew finished 47th and third in class 12.
Husband and wife team Brian Doherty and Tara Duggan were two places behind. They were fourth in class 11F in their Ford Fiesta.
Billy McCarthy returned home from his Brisbane, Australia base, especially for the rally. He and co-driver John Falvey finished 57th and won class nine in their borrowed Nisan Micra.
Ian Horgan was thee places behind in his Toyota Corolla. He had another debutant co-driver, Gary Lombard from just outside the host town. Horgan’s Knocknagoshel neighbours Mike Nelligan and John Hurley were a further seven places adrift in a similar machine. Fossa’s Sam Leech and his Cork co-driver Barry Attridge had to rely on SuperRally rules to get to the finish. A faulty switch in his Opel Corsa’s distributor ended his Saturday run but he recovered to finish second in Class Ten.
Thomas Randles and Pat Cashman were another crew to use SuperRally to get to the end after retiring their Ford Escort on Saturday with mechanical issues.
In the historic section of the rally, Mark Falvey and Ronald O’Riordan were the best of the Kerry contingent, finishing ninth on their Escort. All members of the Falvey family made the finish with Todd Falvey and William Lynch 13th in their Escort Mk2 and Robert Falvey and John Doody 16th in a similar machine.
Local co-drivers Paul Nagle and Tommy Commane were both on the retirement list. Nagle’s rally ended when Craig Breen’s Ford Sierra Cosworth developed a fuel pump issue while Commane crashed on the event’s final stage – both he and driver Phillip McKibben were unhurt
Kerry Motor Club’s Jamie O’Rourke and his co-driver Conor Cross were second in the junior rally in their Honda Civic. Tralee’s Daniel Chung and co-driver Eugene Buckley were sixth in the same category.