The Citroen marque has a lock-out of the top 10 seeds, with Welsh driver Tom Cave heading the entry. Twelve months ago he finished second to Cork driver Keith Cronin. Tyrone’s Alastair Fisher leads the Irish challenge this time and will be competing on his first tarmac event in a Citroen DS3.
He said: “I was very pleased with the car in Portugal and on the Pirelli. It’s a well-balanced car and it felt very smooth to drive on our tarmac test. It will be all go from the start with the Abbey St Bathan’s test an important one tonight.”
Finland’s Jukka Korhonen scooped the €4,000 first prize for the Citroen Racing Trophy UK drivers on the Pirelli Rally with a dominant drive, but Fisher may provide more stern opposition this time around. Other Irish entries are Jonny Greer and Mark Donnelly — this year’s Pirelli Star Driver — and Desi Henry who, like Donnelly, used last week’s Cavan Rally as a shakedown.
Billy Coleman Award winner Daniel McKenna and co-driver Arthur Kierans compete in an R2 Ford Fiesta. Monaghan man McKenna admits he is still on a learning curve as he focuses on trying to secure a Pirelli Star Driver nomination.
Meanwhile, there is plenty of Irish interest in the Sol Rally Barbados. Waterford’s Eddie Power (Toyota Corolla WRC), who was the highest Irish finisher in last week’s King of the Hill Rally, Enda McCormack (Ford Escort), Raymond Conlon (Toyota Corolla), Tommy Doyle (Renault Clio R3), Keith Power (Renault Clio S1600) and Maurice Moffett (Toyota Starlet) are all involved.
Last year’s winners Colm Murphy/Don Montgomery (Subaru) head the entry for Sunday’s Circuit of Munster.
The event, a round of the Top Part West Coast Championship, will consist of nine stages, three of which will be run at the Limerick Racecourse.
The Escorts of Ed O’Callaghan, Ed Synan, Paul Purtill and Frank Sweeney, along with the Group N Subaru of former Top Part champion Shane Maguire, round off the top six. Clonakilty’s Kevin Kelleher (Subaru WRC) is a late entry.
Donegal’s Donagh Kelly will drive the ex-JJ Fleming Ford Focus WRC in the forthcoming Topaz Donegal International Rally. Hugh Hunter has acquired Kelly’s S11 Subaru WRC.
Derry ace Eugene Donnelly is trying to secure a deal to drive a Ford Fiesta WRC in Donegal that will be hired from Ray Breen.
Following two days testing for Ferrari in Vallelunga, outside Rome, Cork racer Matt Griffin arrived in Germany this morning for the weekend’s GT Open International series at the Nurburgring, where he will be accompanied by team-mate Duncan Cameron in their AF Corse-run Ferrari 458 Italia.
The V8 Racing Corvette team, who performed strongly in Portimao, and the Villorba Corse Ferrari team provide the biggest threats to the Irishman.