Born in Oldcastle, Meath, Rory began rallying in 1993 in a Talbot Samba, which he campaigned in England for two years. However, it wasn’t until he acquired a Peugeot 205 that his real talent came to light. In the late ’90s, he had several class wins in the National Rally Championship and the Tarmac series, winning the A7 class in ’98.
Switching to the Peugeot series in Britain, he finished sixth in 106 Super Cup in 1999 and even though he had several off-road excursions — highlighting his ultra-quick pace — he won the much coveted Henri Toivonen Award in recognition of committed driving.
Fittingly, he won the inaugural Billy Coleman Award in 2000 and was a great ambassador for the sport, indeed, Rory was the first of the “new breed” of rally drivers — he set the bar and the pace.
He became Peugeot 106 Super Cup Champion in 2001 — winning four of the eight rounds — and was rewarded with a works drive in a Super 1600 Peugeot 206 Kit Car for the 2002 British Rally Championship.
He won the Mitsubishi one-make series on the final round by a single point, which gave him a Mitsubishi works seat for the 2005 British Rally Championship. Although he took five Production Class victories, he missed out on the title. Sadly, in 2006 his career was cut short after the diagnosis of his illness that was borne with great dignity. Rory, who was laid to rest yesterday, is survived by his wife Treasa, children Charlie and Ella, mother Eileen, and sister Ethel as well as a wide circle of friends. May he rest in peace.
Although top seed, Monaghan’s Niall Maguire is a non-starter for Sunday’s Cavan Rally. In his absence, Donegal’s Donagh Kelly in his Subaru WRC is the favourite. Shane Maguire (Subaru), seeded at three, is the leading Group N entry with fellow Monaghan driver Josh Moffett and Donegal’s Trevor Bustard, both in Mitsubishi Evo IXs, as his principal opposition. The remainder of the entry consists of Ford Escorts, with Declan Boyle, Manus Kelly, Adrian Hetherington, Brian Brogan and Russell Woods completing the top 10 seeds.
Other entries include local ace Jonathan Pringle (Ford Escort), who has already notched up a top-10 finish in a round of the Dunlop series. Trevor Mulligan (Ford Escort) and Jonathan Greer (Citroen DS3) are also competing.
The double-header in the Premier Autoparts Munster Autotest Championship kicks off tomorrow afternoon at the Bandon Co-Op complex at Kilbrogan.
Sunday’s event has a 10.30am start, both events are also rounds of the Carbery Plastics Skibbereen and District Car Club Championship.
In the Acropolis Rally, the sixth round of the World Rally Championship, Jari Matti Latvala (Ford Fiesta) leads after yesterday’s first and only stage. Series leader, Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) was second quickest — 2.8 seconds behind — with Mikko Hirvonen (Citroen) third.
In the World Rally Academy championship category, Tyrone’s Alastair Fisher (Ford Fiesta R2) finished the stage in third position, eight seconds behind Pontus Tidemand, with Welshman Elfyn Evans in second, 3.9 seconds back.