Devine and O’Sullivan win Killarney Rally of the Lakes – local crew round-up and photos by Dylan Clifford

Two from two for Devine and O’Sullivan on Killarney Rally of the Lakes

Photos by Dylan Clifford

Muckross co-driver Noel O’Sullivan and his Derry-based driver Callum Devine took their second Assess Ireland Rally of the Lakes victory in as many years after an epic two days of motorsport in the West Cork and Killarney areas. The Volkswagen Polo GTI crew fought back from a puncture on Killarney’s Moll’s Gap opener tothen  grab the rally lead on stage four the daunting Ardgroom stage and despite several challenges and dramas including a late steering rack issue they managed to hold off the advances of Robert Barrable and Gordon Noble in their Citroen C3 Rally 2 to take a 25.1-second victory

Rally of the lakes 2023
Rally of the lakes 2023
Rally of the lakes 2023

O’Sullivan becomes the first Kerry-based competitor to win the rally twice.

“I was lost for words the first time, and I really don’t know what to say this time either,” said O’Sullivan. “I grew up watching this rally, and my earlier memories are of Bertie Fisher and Rory Kennedy winning this rally.  I never thought I could win, never mind twice, I am very lucky to be competing at the front of this sport and I am very grateful to all who gave me the opportunities.”

Fellow Killarney men and early rally leaders Rob Duggan and Ger Conway had a bitterly disappointing end to what was a brilliant debut performance in their first Killarney outing in a top-line rally car and Rob’s first time competing in a top car since 2018.

Starting off the event with fastest on the first stage, setting a blistering pace on Moll’s Gap to be fastest by 9.8 seconds, the defending modified champion drove a similar Polo to that of the event winners. Fastest again on the opening run over a very wet Moll’s Gap on Sunday morning, the local crew started Sunday morning in third place. Their brilliant run came to a dramatic end on the rally’s penultimate stage, Gortnagane, when they clipped a bank and broke a steering arm.

Local driver Alan Ring and his West Cork co-driver Adrian Deasy were another crew on a debut run in another Polo. They realised their pre-event plan of a top-ten finish by coming home in ninth place. It was their first outing in a frontline car in several years after concentrating on historic rallying in recent times. Ring rued the lack of seat time and full confidence in his hired machine but, nevertheless, was very happy with his run.

Local Crews:

Lawlor’s Cross crew John McCarthy and Kieran O’Donoghue put in one of the drives of the rally to bring their Ford Escort home in tenth place and third in the modified section of the rally.

Rally of the lakes 2023
Rally of the lakes 2023

“We are very happy with the result,” said O’Donoghue, “It was a very hard rally on cars and men.”

Conor Murphy and Sean Collins overcame a host of problems, including a misfiring engine and a puncture to bring their      Ford Escort home in 12th place.

Dave Slattery and Denis Coffey were three places behind in another Escort. They endured a host of problems including a broken throttle and clutch cable over the two days.

Defending junior champions Jason Farrell and Donagh Crowley stepped up to the main rally for the first time and took their Honda Civic to a dominant class 11F win. Mark O’Leary and Andrew Cronin were second in the same class in their Toyota Starlet.

Rally of the lakes 2023

Robert Counihan and Timmy Kelly reported a trouble-free run in their Toyota Corolla Twin Cam to finish 37th

Kenneth Quirke came home from New York, especially for the rally. He and co-driver  Seán Hegarty drove their Talbot Sunbeam to a class 11R victory

Shane Doyle and William Kelliher were second in their class in their BMW E30

Father and daughter John Hickey and Michelle Hickey had a very enjoyable weekend in their Fubaru.

“I could think of nothing better in the world, all the holidays you can imagine, than a father a daughter competing together in the Rally of the Lakes,” said John.

His brother Charlie and his daughter Charlene had to rely on Super Rally rules to get to the finish but also reported an enjoyable weekend.

Raymond O’Neill and Jason O’Connor finished second in class 12 in what was O’Connor’s first attempt at the rally.

Despite a few close calls on their home Gortnagane stage, husband and wife Brian Doherty and Tara Duggan had a good weekend in their Ford Fiesta.

Killarney co-driver Tommy Moynihan guided Patrick O’Connor to fourth in class 20 in their Mitsubishi Evo 10.

There was an interesting mix of local co-drivers on pacenote duty for the O’Callaghan family. Sean Nolan guided Chris to 59th overall while his mother Hazel, guided by Tony McCarthy was six places behind.

Father and son Tom O’Sullivan and Mark O’Sullivan reported a trouble-free run, as did Maurice Kennelly and Eoin Mulvihill.

Thomas Randles and Mark Horgan had severe engine problems in their Ford Escort and had to use Super Rally rules.

Kieran Fitzgerald and Denis O’Leary survived an off-road excursion in Beallaghbeama in their Toyota Starlet to take seventh in Class 11F.

Ruby O’Riordan made her rally debut and guided her father John to fourth in class.

Steven O’Connor and Paul McGlinchy overcame fuel pipe issues to make it to the end.

For the third event in a row, Sean Hickey and Noel Fleming failed to complete the full rally because of alternator problems.

Bob Moran had alternator issues in his Escort but made it to the end.

Stephen O’Connor and Jonathan O’Shea were contesting their first Rally of the Lakes and suffered brake issues in their Toyota Starlet.

Local co-driver Ger Somers and Raymond Spence overcame a host of clutch issues to get their Ford Escort to the finish.

Billy McCarthy and John Falvey broke a steering arm in their Nissan Micra on the first run over Beallaghbeama and were another crew to use SuperRally to get to the end.  

Three crews: Jack O’Shea/Darragh Lynch (Austin Mini Cooper) Gary Healy/Kevin Doherty (Honda Civic) and Amy Burke/Emel McNamara (Ford Fiesta Mark 1) all used Super Rally rules to get to the end.

Historic rally:

Co-driver Brian Duggan was the best-placed Kerry man in the historic rally. He guided Luke McCarthy to fourth place.

Brendan O’Mahoney and Darren O’Mahoney were eighth in their unusual Lada Samara.

Junior category

Brothers Damien Nagle and Shane Nagle were the top Kerry crew on the junior rally, taking fifth place at the end.

The unrelated Keith O’Connor and Aaron O’Connor were three places behind and happy to put their heavy Midlands Moto Rally crash behind them.

Brother and sister Mossie Costello and Megan Costello were ninth in their Civic.

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