Through five decades, Kenny McKinstry has been involved in Irish rallying, initially as a competitor but more recently in the hire and preparation of Subaru WRCs.
Occasionally, he dovetails both roles and on Sunday the popular Banbridge driver competes in Triton Showers ALMC Rally. The rally, based at Dunboyne Castle Hotel, is a counting round of the Get Connected REIS UK Asphalt Rally Championship that accounts for a high representation of overseas drivers.
Since McKinstry acquired an S14 Subaru WRC, the car has won on all four occasions it has been hired out — his only outing in a major event was the Circuit of Kerry, where he was second.
Brian O’Mahony in the West Cork, Sam Moffett in Monaghan and Donegal and Eugene Donnelly in Enniskillen have all brought the S14 to the winner’s enclosure.
That is important for McKinstry.
“It reflects well on the car and on ourselves, our aim is to keep making progress with the car in terms of engine, differential and suspension set-up,” he said. “Nobody has developed the S14 for rallying in Ireland until now. Right now, it’s great, but we feel there is still more to come from the car.”
McKinstry Motorsport will oversee four cars in Sunday’s event, including the customer car of Kevin Barrett. The Maynooth driver, who has been with the McKinstry stables for some time, has acquired the ex-Derek McGarrity S14.
McKinstry said: “We will be looking after Kevin’s car and also the cars of Ian and Paul Barrett. As customers, they will always come first, that’s the way it is, we will have our hands full.”
Following the event, McKinstry will convert Barrett’s car to right-hand drive.
On the nine stages around Co. Meath, McKinstry, seeded fourth, will have the British trio of Steve Simpson (Subaru WRC), Damian Cole and Paul Bird (both Ford Focus) ahead of him on the start line.
Opening round Get Connected winner Simpson also took strong results in the other two rounds and has amassed 84 points, with John Indri (75 points) and Washington James (66 points) his closest challengers. Indri is not competing in Meath.
Meanwhile, Hugh Hunter, one of 40 overseas drivers, will actually debut the S11 Barrett campaigned in his forays in the Dunlop National Rally Championship.
The remainder of the top 10 is completed by Britons, Graham Coffey (Subaru WRC), John Stone (Skoda Fabia WRC), Gary Le Coadou (Toyota Corolla WRC) and Simon Mauger (Ford Escort), who will be expected to dominate the Mk 2 Escort category.
Washington James (Darrian T90) is likely to head the two-wheel drive category, while Mauger’s opposition includes Chris Armstrong, Trevor Mulligan and Michael Curran (Ford Escorts).
The first stage begins at 10.13am with the finish scheduled for 5.20pm.
In Mondello Park, the Irish Formula Vee Festival, now in its second year, has an exciting format and live internet streaming on Mondello.TV.
In all, a total of eight Formula Vee races will be run tomorrow and Sunday, tomorrow’s races are championship encounters. The festival will then kick into action on Sunday, with three heats followed by two semi-finals and the final.
Tomorrow morning’s qualifying for the Formula Vee championship races will also be used to determine the line-up for the festival heats on Sunday, with an additional qualifying session on Sunday morning for festival only competitors. Also tomorrow there are races in the revived Irish Formula Ford Championship and the two races for the Patch Tyre Equipment Fiesta Championship.
Sunday’s itinerary involves 16 races with the 15-minute final at 4.40pm. The top entries are Ray Moore, Dan Polley and Sean Newsome.
In Formula Ford, Kevin O’Hara is the one to watch with the likes of Stephen Daly, Jonny McMullan, Niall Murray and Ivor McCullough hoping to outpace the Young Racing Driver of the Year award winner.
Elsewhere, the Cork Motor Club’s Autotest gets under way at the Cork Builders Providers complex in Togher at 5.30pm tomorrow, while the Killarney & District MC event at Millstreet begins at 11am on Sunday. Both events are rounds of the Munster Autotest Championship.
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