Kelly and Boyle opt for R5 cars in 2019 championship

Two former Tarmac champions are to switch to R5 cars for next year’s Irish Tarmac Rally Championship in a move that should ease pressure on the Tarmac Rally Organisers Association (TROA).

Kelly and Boyle opt for R5 cars in 2019 championship

Two former Tarmac champions are to switch to R5 cars for next year’s Irish Tarmac Rally Championship in a move that should ease pressure on the Tarmac Rally Organisers Association (TROA).

Donegal’s Donagh Kelly, who won the West Cork Rally for a fifth successive time this year, says he will switch to an R5 car for the series opener in Galway, but he will keep his Ford Focus WRC and said he may use it on his home Donegal International Rally, depending on what competitors show up in WR cars.

Another Donegal winning Tarmac champion Declan Boyle said he hopes to have an R5 car for Galway, but he too will retain his current car — a Ford Fiesta WRC — most likely for a tilt at next year’s Triton National series.

Drivers of World Rally Cars will still be eligible to win individual events, but not the championship.

It appears the TROA cannot change the situation while WR cars remain homologated.

Hints of a boycott (by some R5 competitors) have amounted to little or nothing, ironically, and with Kelly and Boyle moving to R5, the series is now shaping up to be the most exciting in years.

Of more immediate concern for the TROA is the schedule of events for next year’s campaign and, while the traditional Galway International Rally returns, it seems it will be reduced to a single day, as opposed to two days.

With the Circuit of Ireland without European Rally Championship status next year (event director Bobby Willis has set his sights on possible WRC status for 2020) the Ulster Automobile Club will run the event under the title of the Easter Rally, but a date and location are unconfirmed.

The Ulster Rally is also in a state of flux; its status as a round of the British Rally Championship shows it will be run on one day and not over two days as in previous years.

Elsewhere, the West Cork, Rally of the Lakes, Donegal and the Cork “20” remain on usual lines.

Meanwhile, the Motorsport Ireland National Navigation Trial and its Munster counterpart continue their respective journeys on tomorrow night’s Carbery Navigation Trial, which starts from The Pike Community Hall in Lisavaird near Clonakilty just after 11pm.

The 85-mile route, without a petrol halt, will be challenging and locals will he aiming to maintain dominance.

Last year and in 2015, local navigator Denis O’Donovan (Drinagh) won and will be expected to continue as he teams up with Mallow driver Derek Butler.

Opposition features Ovens ace Owen Murphy and Togher’s Daire Hayes and Motorsport Ireland National Navigation Trial champions, Monaghan’s Derek Mackarel and his Togher navigator Muireann Hayes.

On Sunday, the final round of the Parts for Cars Irish Rallycross Championship in Mondello Park has the biggest Supercar grid for a domestic event in several years, with nine drivers battling for a place on the Superfinal grid.

Local favourite Tommy Graham has his second outing in his new Fiesta Supercar.

He will be joined by the championship regulars, along with Welsh duo Mike and Liam Manning.

The two-wheel drive Modified division is also well supported, as series leader Peter McGarry (Vauxhall VX220) holds a three-point advantage over Michael Coyne (Vauxhall Nova).

Elsewhere, the Cavan Loose Surface Autocross at Latton Quarry starts at 10.30am.

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