Motorsport Ireland News Roundup
Motorsport Ireland licence holders will be well represented on two major rally events that will bring the international calendar to its conclusion this weekend.
Both the World Rally Championship and the British Rally Championship will be decided this weekend and there is plenty of Irish interest in both events. The Newry, County Down-based Ulster Rally is the seventh and final round of the British series. Killarney co-driver Noel O’Sullivan and his Welsh driver Osian Pryce are one of two crews that can lift the British title. In simple terms, it is a straight fight between the Welsh/Irish duo and their teammates Matt Edwards and Darron Garrod who are both entered in a pair of Melvyn Evans Motorsport Volkswagen Polos. Pryce and O’Sullivan are in pole position, they have an eight-point advantage over their rivals but anything can happen in rallying and it really is a case of winner takes it all. If O’Sullivan is successful on Saturday’s nine-stage rally in County Down he will join the list of Irish co-drivers who have won the British title. The list includes rally legend and double title winner Rory Kennedy from Letterkenny, Monaghan’s Arthur Kierans and fellow Killarney man Mikie Galvin who guided Keith Cronin to his fourth title in 2017.
Pryce is full of praise for his Killarney sidekick.
“I have to thank Noel and the huge contribution he is making. when I step back and look at the way we have evolved and how well it all works inside the car I have to give a lot of credit to Noel. It would be nice to win the BRC title for him as well as all the guys at Melvyn Evans Motorsport and all the people who have supported me this year,” he said.
With the final round of the BRC taking place on Irish soil, the event has attracted some of the best local drivers too. Competitors to look out for in the top ten include former Young Rally Driver of the Year and Billy Coleman Award winner Callum Devine and his co-driver Brian Hoy in a Ford Fiesta Rally 2. The Monaghan/Limerick crew of Sam Moffett and Keith Moriarty won the opening round of the BRC in Cheshire in May but concentrated on Irish events once the sport resumed in Ireland. They arrive in Newry fresh from a win on the Kerry Winter Rally a week ago. Sam’s brother Josh Moffett and his co-driver Andy Hayes are sure to be front-runners in their Hyundai i20 R5.
The three men O’Sullivan is hoping to emulate are also entered. Kennedy is alongside former Irish Tarmac Champion Garry Jennings in a Ford Fiesta R5. Four-time BRC champion Keith Cronin is in another Fiesta and has 2017 co-driving champion Mikie Galvin in the hot seat while Arthur Kierans is working alongside rising Irish talent and 2019 Billy Coleman Award winner James Wilson in his ex-Craig Breen Hyundai i20 R5.
Junior British Rally Championship
Two Irish crews are going head to head for the chance to scoop the British Junior title this weekend. The winner will secure a drive in a Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing i20 N Rally2 at a round of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship. William Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan scooped wins at the Neil Howard, Mull Rally, Trackrod Rally Yorkshire and the Cambrian, but still are not leading the series. Such is the impressive consistency of Eamonn Kelly and Conor Mohan, the pairing have scored on all but one round to enter a thrilling battle with Creighton for the title. However, all Creighton needs to do is finish eighth or higher to take the title and secure that potentially career-changing drive.
“My plan will be to stay focused on what I have to do and not what others are doing around me. I am lucky enough to have my family business sponsor an element of the event so I hope it is an enjoyable day for everyone involved and that it’s an exciting BRC showdown,” said Creighton.
Donegal man Kelly used last weekend’s Kerry Winter Rally as a high-speed shakedown for Saturday’s finale.
“We had a run out at the Kerry Winter Rally last weekend to get some miles in and help get our confidence up. Seat time is everything and it’s left us hopefully that bit sharper leading up to Ulster,” he said.
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy members and Donegal men David Kelly and Dean O’Sullivan are in a Ford Fiesta R5. They are joined by fellow Academy co-driver Grace O’Brien who is alongside Ryan Caldwell in an Opel Adam R2.
World Rally Championship Monza
Co-driver Aaron Johnson is the only Irish man in the top category for the World Rally Championship finale which takes place in Monza, Italy, from Friday. Johnson will start his third WRC event alongside Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team driver Takamoto Katsuta in a Toyota Yaris World Rally Car. Just over a month ago, Irish co-drivers set a world record on Rally Finland. Paul Nagle guided Craig Breen to third overall in a Hyundai i20 WRC, while Chris Patterson was alongside Briton Gus Greensmith in a Ford Fiesta WRC. For the first time, there was an Irish co-driver represented on each of the three WRC manufacturers teams. A record that is unlikely to be matched, since Finland, Belfast man Patterson has retired from top-flight motorsport and Nagle and Breen have been contracted to driver for Ford for 2022 and 2023.
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy and Hyundai Motorsport Junior driver Josh McErlean and his co-driver James Fulton will make their sixth start at world level. They will field a brand-new Hyundai N i20 Rally 2 (pictured above) which is prepared by Letterkenny firm PCRS.
Sligo co-driver Niall Burns left Wales last weekend with a unique record. The final round of the Welsh Championship took place in Builth Wells on Saturday where Burns and his Scottish driver Garry Pearson won yet another title. As well as securing the Welsh championship on Saturday, the crew are also the British Trials and Rally Drivers Association’s champions, Scottish Rally Champions and British National champions – four titles in one season.
Meanwhile, the Donegal and Cork pairing of Michael McDaid and Declan Casey (provisionally) secured third place overall in the Pirelli Welsh Historic Rally Championship in their Ford Escort.
Fergil Gregory triumphed at Leinster Motor Club’s GVB Cup Sporting Trial narrowly beating Christopher Evans and Siobhan McCann.
At Round 4 of the Irish Rallycross Championship in Mondello Park, Derek Tohill produced a commanding display to edge out Declan Kelly and Tommy Graham with the trio all driving Ford Fiestas.
Co. Monaghan Motor Club ran the first Navigation Trial of 2021 and out of a 38 car field it was the experienced Colin Duffy and Sam Johnston who won the Knockatallon based event.
At the final round of the Motorsport Ireland Kart Champioship held at Whitriver Park in Co. Louth the results were as follows:
Bambino Final: Danny Dempsey
Cadet & Cadet Novice: Tadgh Buckley, Ben McCloghrey (Rookie)
IAME X30 Jnr: Andrei Dabija
IAME X30 Snr: Sam McDonnell
Rotax Max Snr: Gary Turkington
Tillotson T4: Ryan Nally