Is there a lesson to be gained for Irish rally organisers from Sunday’s Midleton based Imokilly Rally?
Close on 130 crews will tackle the six-stage event that has a modest entry fee. The Sligo Rally earlier this month was the only single day event in recent times to have attracted more than 100 crews - events such as the Raven’s Rock Rally in Waterford had some 88 starters, the ALMC Rally in Trim drew just less than 50 crews while the Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally scheduled for next month has been cancelled.
Ironically, the Imokilly club, one of four clubs in Cork, has only been affiliated to Motorsport Ireland a few short years and hosted their first rally just five years ago.
The entry features one of strongest Modified contingent in Irish rallying with last year’s rally winner Cavan’s Jonathan Pringle (Ford Escort), who won the ALMC Rally, heading an ultra competitive top ten. He will be followed by another Cavan driver Gary Kiernan (Escort), who will provide ample opposition over the six stages. Local Midleton driver Colin Byrne has the number three decals on his Escort in honour of his friend Donal O’Brien, who was tragically killed whilst out cycling earlier this year.
Kilkenny’s Enda O’Brien in yet another Escort was an emphatic winner of a similar event in Portlaoise last month and he too is one of many capable of winning the rally.
In contrast to a busy season last year, Meath’s Trevor Mulligan (Ford Escort) hasn’t made many appearances this year, he is seeded at five ahead of top Group N contender Daniel Cronin (Mitsubishi EvoIX). Winner of the inaugural Imokilly event Banteer’s Barry Meade (Ford Escort) cannot be discounted either in a top ten that includes Irish Forest rally champion Pat O’Connell (Mitsubishi), Carlow’s George Condell (Toyota Starlet) and Limerick’s Ed O’Callaghan (Ford Escort). Elsewhere, the Cork trio of David Guest (Mitsubishi EvoIX), Vincent McSweeney (Honda Civic) and Mark Dolphin (Ford Escort) are just outside the top ten frame. McSweeney is the highest placed PlasticBags.ie Southern 4 Championship contender and he can close the deficit to the non-competing series leader Brendan Cumiskey. Former Tarmac Group N champion Kevin Kelleher will campaign the Ryan Loughran hired Escort; Carrigaline’s Eric Calnan (Peugeot 106) is the top Junior as Jason Ryan (Honda Civic) and Damien McCarthy (Ford Puma) are amongst the popular Class 11F category. Event headquarters is at the Midleton Park Hotel and the first stage is at 10.58am.
Meanwhile, Mondello Park hosts a cracking weekend of rallycross action as the Toyo Tyres British Championship and the Parts for Cars Irish Championship combine for will be the largest Supercar line-up at the Kildare venue since the heydays of the 1980’s. Some seventeen four-wheel drive cars will be pushed to the limit over the two days, as the organisers will use an anti-clockwise circuit tomorrow and the traditional clockwise circuit on Sunday. London based Limerick native Ollie O’Donovan and Dubliner Derek Tohill in their Fiesta Supercars should be the ones to watch, O’Donovan will try to end Tohill’s unbeaten run in Mondello this season.
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