Gary Kiernan is hoping to master both gravel and asphalt surfaces in 2020 as he competes in the Irish Forestry and National Rally Championships. The Co. Cavan driver will start off his season this weekend at the Carrick-on-Suir Forestry Rally in an upgraded Ford Escort Mk2.
“My plan for this year is to try and be the fastest two-wheel-drive competitor on tarmac and gravel,” said Kiernan. “I plan to do the Irish Forestry Championship, the National Rally Championship, and maybe West Cork and Donegal too.”
While his tarmac-spec Escort remains the same as last year, Kiernan has upgraded his gravel car to Class 14 specification.
“This year I’ve upgraded my forestry car with a 2.5-litre Millington engine and 15-inch wheels. The extra power will be a challenge on gravel.
“The car is only just ready so we won’t have much time to test before Carrick-on-Suir.”
Despite taking two-wheel-drive wins on the Cavan Stages Rally and Galway Summer Rally, Kiernan’s season was blighted by retirements last year. One such retirement came in West Cork when his engine failed while leading the national event ahead of Mikko Hirvonen.
“Last year was full of ups and downs. The biggest disappointment had to be West Cork, I could have retired if I had beaten Mikko!
“I was surprised with our pace when we started on gravel last year and by the end of the season, our gravel pace was not far off the front-runners.
“Other highlights included winning Galway Summer Rally’s King of the Mk2 for the third time and winning the Imokilly Mini Stages Rally for the third time as well.”
Darren O’Brien continues to co-drive for Kiernan on gravel events with Ryan Moore delivering the pacenotes on tarmac events.
“My aim for Carrick-on-Suir is to get some strong points on the board while I continue to build on my pace.”
Photo: Kevin Glendinning