KERRY GOLD – Fels Point Circuit of Kerry Perview, By Martin Walsh

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ONE of the most impressive entry lists for a round of the Dunlop National Rally Championship including nine World Rally Cars, a state of the art R5 car and a Regional Rally Car and an S2000 car form a cracking line-up for Sunday’s Fels Point Hotel Circuit of Kerry, round two of the popular series.

Dunlop National Rally champion, Declan Boyle in his Subaru WRC is the top seed in his Subaru WRC 12B. Following an impressive victory in the Mayo Rally, the Donegal driver faces interesting opposition in the nine stage Tralee based rally.

Last year in Kerry, on what was a non-Championship round, Boyle crashed out of the lead, but he has no concerns about that or indeed, running first on the road in the Kingdom. “I don’t mind being first on the road but with all the other WRC’s, Craig Breen and Sam Moffett on the entry will not make it easy. Craig has a lot of experience and will be on a massive pace so it’s hard to know where we will stand with him until we get a few stages completed.” On last year’s rally, he added, “We crashed out last year, we went in too deep to a square right while the wipers failed but the simple thing would have been to slow down but I didn’t do it and had a slight roll but no big harm, thankfully.”

The current Dunlop champion outlined his plan: “Hugh Hunter was fast in Mayo but we didn’t get a right race as he went out early but he’s definitely quick. There are a lot of boys there to watch. We will have to push hard on the opening stages to try get a bit of time and hopefully not be too far off. Every day is different and of course, much depends on the weather.”

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]FACEBOOK-PROFILE-IMAGE[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Welsh ace, Hugh Hunter (Subaru WRC) seemed set to take the runner-up spot in Ballina only to retire on the second loop of stages. Having won the Galway Summer last year and the Abbeyleix Rally last February, he has shown championship credentials but he needs to get points on the board in Kerry.

The Kerry Motor Club has achieved a major coup with an entry from Craig Breen, who won last week’s Acropolis Rally. The Waterford ace and former Billy Coleman award winner gave the Peugeot 208 T16 a winning debut in the European Rally Championship. He plans to utilise the nine stage rally as a shakedown for the forthcoming Circuit of Ireland Rally, round four of the European Rally Championship. The appearance of Breen and the Peugeot 205 T16 will generate keen interest all around. It will most certainly be an interesting comparison with the WRC brigade.

Meanwhile, Cork ace Daragh O’Riordan will compete in his Ford Fiesta WRC and having battled with Boyle and Hunter on two occasions last year will renew rivalry with both in Kerry. In last year’s Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally, O’Riordan was leading when he slid off the road and out of the rally. In the Galway Summer Rally Hugh Hunter held sway over the Cork ace.

Second place in Ballina was an impressive return for Clonmel’s Roy White (MG ZR) on the championship opener and while it is difficult to manage a repeat, he will be keen to gain as many Dunlop points as possible, last year he was third overall in the series.

The legendary Kenny McKinstry will compete in Kerry in his S14 Subaru WRC, last year, he was runner up to winner Donagh Kelly (Subaru WRC), the Banbridge man remains a hugely popular figure in Irish rallying.
Meanwhile, having retired in Ballina, Kevin Barrett, who was actually born in County Kerry, bids to get his Dunlop campaign off the ground. It will be a similar experience for former triple champion, Niall Maguire as he also failed to register points in Ballina, the Monaghan driver has a unique record in the Circuit of Kerry – he has won and lost the rally on a tie break.

Winner of the Dunlop round in Monaghan last year, Sam Moffett is another driver that is using the rally as a shakedown for the forthcoming Circuit of Ireland. He has changed the Ford Fiesta WRC he debuted in the Galway International Rally to Regional Rally specification (RRC) and it will certainly be interesting to see how his times compares with Breen and the WRC contingent. Former Dunlop Group N champion, Kevin Kelleher rounds off the top ten in his Subaru WRC as he begins his Dunlop bid.

Wexford’s James Stafford in his Darrian T90 is the top two wheel drive exponent with opposition being provided by Ford Escorts of local hero Mike Quinn, former Dunlop Mk. 2 Champion Trophy winner Frank Kelly, Fergus O’Meara, Ed O’Callaghan, Ed Synan, Paul Purtill, Ed Murphy and Charlie Hickey.

Elsewhere, the Subaru WRC’s of Tyrone’s Paddy McVeigh, who won last week’s Midland Moto Rally in Roscommon, Welsh ace, Steve Wood in ex-Darren Gass Subaru WRC and Kilkenny’s Eoin Doyle form part of the impressive entry.
The top Group N entry is that of Alan Ring (Subaru N12B), a former Dunlop showroom champion. Unfortunately, French ace Robert Consani has withdrawn his entry as his Peugeot 207 S2000 was badly damaged during last week’s Acropolis Rally, he had intended to use the rally to acclimatise to the Irish terrain ahead of the Circuit of Ireland.

Elsewhere, the showroom category are the Mitsubishi quartet of Monaghan’s Shane Maguire, Clonmel’s Gus Kearney, Dubliner Neil Tohill and Galwegian Maurice Greaney.

Others that add an interesting dimension are Tommy Doyle (Renault Clio R3), Robert Duggan (Honda Civic), Darren Young (Honda Civic) and David Carney (Citroen DS3 R3).
Local driver PJ O’Dowd (Talbot Sunbeam) and Louth’s Philip McKibbin (Ford Escort Mk1) head the Historic category while the top three seeds in the Junior category are Wexford’s Richard Moore (Honda Civic), Clare’s Niall O’Sullivan (Citroen C2) and Cavan’s Damian O’Reilly (Ford Escort). John O’Flaherty (Toyota Starlet) is the top local driver.

The Circuit of Kerry will be the first event of the series to be televised with the support of Triton Showers, who are joining the series as sponsors of the television coverage on TG4 and satellite channel Motors TV. The extremely well-known brand has previously sponsored the Circuit of Ireland Rally, the Lurgan Park Rally and the ALMC Rally. In addition and for the last sixteen years, Triton Showers have also sponsored the regional South-East Rally Championship.

– Preview complements of Dunlop proud Sponsors of the National Rally Championship 

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Organising Club: Kerry Motor Club.
Clerk of the Course: Jonathan O’Shea.
Rally Headquarters: Fels Point, Tralee. 066 7199100

First Car Away: Fels Point Hotel, Tralee. 09.05.
S.S. 1, 4 & 7: Mount Eagle (14km.) 10.00, 12.47 & 15.34.
S.S. 2, 5 & 8: Headley’s Bridge (19.3km.) 10.38, 13.25 & 16.12.
S.S. 3, 6 & 9: Kielduff (11.6km.) 11.16, 14.03 16.50.
Service: Fels Point: 09.06, 11.43 & 14.30.

Finish Ramp: Fels Point Hotel, Tralee 17.17[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Top 10 Starters:

1. Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Subaru WRC S12B)
2. Hugh Hunter/Andy Marchbank (Subaru WRC S11)
3. Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16)
4. Daragh O’Riordan/Tony McDaid (Ford Fiesta WRC)
5. Roy White/James O’Brien (MG ZR S2400)
6. Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru WRC S14)
7. Kevin Barrett/Sean Mullally (Subaru WRC S14)
8. Niall Maguire/Conor Foley (Subaru WRC S11)
9. Sam Moffett/James O Reilly (Ford Fiesta RRC)
10. Kevin Kelleher/Mark Kane (Subaru WRC)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

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The 2014 Dunlop National Rally Championship:

1. Mayo Rally (Ballina) March 9th. Winners: D. Boyle/B. Boyle (Subaru WRC)
2. Circuit of Kerry (Tralee) April 6th.
3. Carlow Rally, May 11th.
4. Circuit of Munster June 1st.
5. Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally, August 10th.
6. Galway Summer Rally, August 31st.
7. Clare Rally, September 21st.
8. Donegal Harvest Rally, October 11th.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]