Motorsport: Murphy faces quality field in Historic Rally defence

Motorsport: Murphy faces quality field in Historic Rally defence

A magnificent silver trophy in honour of the late Maurice Nagle awaits the winners of tomorrow’s Rentokil-Initial Killarney Historic Rally that has attracted a superb entry.

The Aghadoe native, who passed away last December, was the brainchild behind the event, Ireland’s only dedicated historic rally that was first run in 1996. Shortly after 8am tomorrow morning, last year’s winner, Cork driver Owen Murphy, will set off up Moll’s Gap, the first of the eight stages, in the David Percy hired Ford Escort.

He’s made the switch from his winning Talbot Sunbeam Lotus as replacement halfshafts could not be engineered in time. It will give him an extra 40/50 horsepower:

“I’m confident, once I drive well I know I should be there or thereabouts. It is important to have a good time on Moll’s Gap, you need to be flat out.”

Chasing Murphy “up the Gap” is the experienced crew of Craig Breen/Paul Nagle, in a Viking Motorsport built Ford Escort that will have its debut outing. For Nagle, the rally has a huge significance and he will want to be part of the first crew to get their hands on the cup named after his late father.

The quality of the entry is probably the best since its inception with Killarney’s Rob Duggan, also in a Mk. 2 Escort more than capable of victory. So too is former winner Millstreet’s Mark Falvey in his Mk. 1 version, keeping sight of the ultimate goal may well unlock the key to success.

Welsh ace Neil Williams (Ford Escort), Belgian Paul Lietaer (Opel Manta) and the Escorts of Donegal’s Martin Doherty, Tyrone’s Cathan McCourt, Dubliner Robert Barrable and Ballylickey’s Denis Cronin complete the top ten.

A late change that spices up the rally even further sees Tyrone’s Ryan Loughran switch from the modified category to drive the Barry McKenna Escort in the main rally. The Escorts of Cavan pair Chris Armstrong and Gary Kiernan head a competitive modified section that has over 100 entries. The event finishes at the Gleneagle Hotel at 3.30pm.

Cork’s David Guest is the latest Irish competitor to switch to an R5 car, the Dunmanway driver and former Irish Tarmac Group N champion has acquired the ex-Simone Campedelli Fiesta R5 and will contest the Galway International Rally next February ahead of his local West Cork Rally in March.

Earlier this week Toyota Gazoo Racing confirmed the signings of Sebastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanpera for an all-new driver line-up for next year’s World Rally Championship. They replace Ott Tanak, who has joined Hyundai Motorsport, Kris Meeke and Jari Matti Latvala, both of whom are now out of contract.

Ogier, joins the Japanese manufacturer from Citroen Racing (who have withdrawn from the WRC) in a one-year deal, it is expected to be his final season before retiring from the WRC. Craig Breen’s future also remains fluid, it’s possible that he could compete in WRC2 with Hyundai Motorsport with the possibility of WRC drives in Finland and Rally GB as neither Sebastien Loeb or Dani Sordo has expressed interest in these two events.

Motorsport Ireland has progressed the acquisition of a tracker system for Irish rallies (set to be implemented next season) after it selected a preferred tender following the bidding process that brought seven bids. Chairperson of the Rallies Commission Angela Henehan confirmed t the selection process has been completed and sanctioned by the Motorsport Council. MI representatives are to meet the chosen supplier to fine tune aspects of the deal, it is envisaged that the cost to competitors will be relatively close to the €40 originally suggested by MI officials, who are keen not to place any extra burden on competitors, it may involve some financial support from within the governing body.

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