Millstreet to step up a gear with rally plans

 Rallying legend Billy Coleman  with members of the Munster Car Club

One of the oldest rallies in Europe, the Orchard Motorsport Cork “20” International Rally, is moving its headquarters to Millstreet — the spiritual home of Irish rallying.

Since the mid 1970s the event, organised by the Munster Car Club, has been based in Cork City.

The move to the mid-Cork town is only the second time the rally will have its headquarters in a county town, with Kinsale being used almost 40 years ago.

The legendary Billy Coleman is largely responsible for placing Millstreet on the rallying map. The first Irish driver to win the British Rally Championship (1974), Coleman is still hugely popular with the rallying fraternity.

The Millstreet Maestro, as he was affectionately known, remains the only driver to have won the Cork “20” on three successive years, from 1970 to 1972. He also won in 1976 when he was co-driven by Ballyvourney’s Dan O’Sullivan. He followed up with wins in 1984 in a Porsche 911, and in 1986 driving a Metro 6R4, with Ronan Morgan his co-driver on both occasions.

Clerk of the course, Kevin O’Riordan, said: “We looked at a number of alternative bases for the rally, with the focus of making the event more cost effective for competitors. It was evident from the start the Millstreet Development Group had the passion, drive and commitment to put together the necessary package and logistics to make the event a success.”

Development group spokesman Tony McCaul said: “While the town is noted for the Green Glens Arena, hosting the rally is another way of increasing the profile of the town. The area has a great history with rallying, and there are over 50 drivers within a 20-mile catchment of Millstreet.

“Of course, Billy [Coleman] is synonymous with the town, while John Moynihan has located his rallying business here, as well.”

The rally, on the first weekend of October, is the deciding round of the Irish Tarmac Championship and the local group is hopeful an influx of competitors and spectators will generate an economic boost.

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