Callum Devine is a surprise addition to Cork 20 International Rally’s unseeded entry list which was revealed on 8th September. As expected, Ireland’s first rally since 2020 will be packed with top cars and crews featuring World Rally Cars, nearly 30 R5s, and a mammoth modified field.
Josh and Sam Moffett, Meirion Evans, Donagh Kelly, Declan Boyle, and Cathan McCourt join Devine in the main R5/Rally2 fight.
Both Moffett brothers are previous winners of the event and will be hot favourites to add to their tally. Josh and Sam are set to drive the Hyundai i20 and Ford Fiesta they’ve respectively showcased in the British Rally Championship so far in 2021.
Volkswagen Polo R5 driver, Kelly, also has a Cork 20 victory to his name. His pace at the tail end of 2019 and the start of 2020 gave him two rally wins in the Polo. With his local Donegal Harvest Rally up next month, Kelly will be looking to find the same form this time around.
Boyle is another Donegal driver to turn to Volkswagen’s R5 in a bid to return to the front of Irish rallying’s ever-improving field of cars. Boyle will hope his switch from Fiesta to Polo will work as well as Kelly’s switch from Fabia to Polo did in 2019.
The Polo for Boyle will be looked after by Melvyn Evans Motorsport who will also be represented by one of their own – Meirion Evans. Cork 20 will be Evans’ fourth rally in his Polo this year, picking up two wins along the way.
In fact, the last running of Cork 20 was Evans’ first time to score top points on an Irish Tarmac Rally Championship round. The Welshman missed out on the overall win to Martin McCormack that day and will be out to right that record next weekend. In-form Evans is sure to put up a fight to his Irish rivals in Cork.
Many thought 2019’s Cork 20 Rally would be won by Devine, who was seeded number one for the first time in his career. His rally ended early, however, and he had to wait a few more weeks to claim his maiden win on the following Donegal Harvest Rally.
The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver has enjoyed plenty of action in the European Rally Championship since and again will be a favourite heading to Cork this year.
Meanwhile Garry Jennings is set to tackle Irish stages for the first time behind the wheel of his right-hand-drive Ford Fiesta. Fermanagh’s 2013 Irish Tarmac Rally Champion has been getting up to speed with his new car while competing in the BRC.
The list of R5 entrants is endless. Owen Murphy will finally debut his Fiesta R5 on the Cork 20 after an 18-month wait. Daniel Cronin has entered Cork 20 after his recent rallysprint appearances.
Jason Mitchell, who won Carlow’s loose surface rallysprint at the end of August, is also set to make is Irish closed-road rally debut in Cork. Mitchell and McCourt are two of several drivers making the trek down to Cork on Saturday night straight from Omagh Motor Club’s Bushwhacker Rally. It will be a late shift as mechanics convert cars from gravel to tarmac specification.
Two World Rally Cars driven by Roy White and Daniel Harper will keep the fresher R5 and Rally2 cars on their toes. White won the Cork 20 three years ago and returns to action in his Fiesta WRC for the first time since 2020’s Mayo Stages Rally.
As for picking a winner in the modified section, it’s anyone’s guess.
Class 14 is filled with the best Ford Escort, Toyota Starlet, Darrion T90, and Toyota Corolla drivers in Ireland.
Gary Kiernan, Kevin Eves, James Stafford, Damian Toner, Chris Armstrong, and David and Richard Moffett lead a modified line-up we could barely have dreamt of before we knew what the word lockdown even meant.
It is a rarity to write a preview worrying about leaving a potential winner out. In this case, it is impossible not to. But after 18 months craving closed-road rallying, this is as good as we could ever have hoped for.
Roll on Cork because Irish rallying is back!
Photos by Barronpix and Adam Hall