Having moved up from the showroom category and having finished second overall in the Rally of the Lakes last season and third in the recent Midland Rally, he is still very much on a learning curve.
The Castleisland driver and his Cork co-driver Adrian Deasy are the top seeds in Sunday’s Fels Point Circuit of Kerry — always a popular event on the Irish rallying calendar.
A little inclined to play down the position, Ring views the event as a test ahead of his participation in next week’s Monaghan Rally and the Rally of the Lakes the following week — respective rounds of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship and the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship.
“No matter where you start, a top three finish is quite realistic from our point of view. We are here for practise, we have Monaghan coming up next week and Killarney the week after. It’s also a local event and we normally do it.” said Ring, who reckons Derek McGarrity is the favourite.
He added, “We adjusted the brakes in Midland and it made a huge improvement, there is so much in the car. I think it will take most of this year to get to grips with it. It is all about building up experience.”
Meanwhile, McGarrity (s14 Subaru WRC) also has a special reason for making the journey to north Kerry as he wants to gain some high-speed experience ahead of the Donegal International Rally in June. He appears to be the favourite to take victory in an event that has been decided on a tie-break on more occasions than any other event.
As a counting round of the Top Part West Coast Rally Championship — Welsh ace Steve Wood (Subaru WRC) will be seeking valuable points as he tries to become the second Welsh driver to win the series — last year Hugh Hunter took the spoils in the popular regional series.
Kerry-born Maynooth-based Kevin Barrett in his Triton Showers liveried S14 Subaru WRC will seek a strong result while Tyrone’s Paddy McVeigh in the ex-Patrick Elliott S12B Subaru WRC needs competitive mileage to gain more experience of his latest acquisition.
Ballylickey’s Daniel Cronin and his Killarney co-driver Shane Buckley will campaign the ’99 specification Subaru WRC — the car that provided them with victory in the Banna Beach Hotel Rally last November. That was Cronin’s last rally and he may suffer from a lack of seat time — last week co-driver Buckley accompanied Keith Cronin in the Moonraker Rally until their rally ended with a fuel-related issue on the road section to the penultimate stage.
As ever, the popular two–wheel drive category has a very competitive edge. Local hero Mike Quinn (Escort) faces the Limerick trio of Ed O’Callaghan, Ed Synan and Paul Purtill, all in similar Escorts.
Meanwhile, Owen Doyle in the ex-Ray Breen Ford Focus WRC will be aiming for some consistency and a strong top ten finish. In Group N, the main contenders are Paul Barrett (Subaru), Pat O’Connell (Mitsubishi Evo IX), Don Keating (Subaru) and Derek Daly (Mitsubishi EvoIX).
Carrick-on-Suir Autocross, Portlaw, Co Waterford. 12noon; IMRC Races, Mondello Park, Naas. 4.30pm.
Fels Point Circuit of Kerry (Round 2, Top Part West Coast Championship) Tralee. 9am. IMRC Races, Mondello Park, Naas. 10.30am; Carrick-on-Suir Autocross, Portlaw, Co Waterford. 11am.