Gary Kiernan switches to a Ford Fiesta R5 for Sunday’s Kerry Winter Stages Rally. The usual modified front-runner is seeded first on his R5 debut as he seeks to defend his 2017 Banna Beach win.
Sam Moffett, Donagh Kelly, Daniel Cronin, and Owen Murphy complete the six-stage rally’s top five. All four R5 drivers have been in action already this year, although Moffett will drive a Hyundai i20 R5 for the first time since 2020’s Galway International Rally.
Moffett and Cronin are perhaps favourites going by recent form but we have witnessed how different rallies suit different cars and crews this year so Kelly, Murphy, and even debutant Kiernan are capable of grabbing a win in Banna.
Rob Duggan returns to action for the first time in 2019. The Killarney ace debuts his new Ford Escort Mk2 and faces tough opposition in two-wheel-drive as he gets up to speed.
Escort Rally Special winner Colin O’Donoghue is also making his first appearance in Ireland since 2019’s Killarney Historic Rally. Duggan and O’Donoghue respectively won Killarney’s historic and modified categories but both are in Class 14 machinery this weekend.
Kevin Eves, who won two-wheel-drive on the Donegal Harvest Rally, is back for more in Kerry in his Toyota Corolla. Ed and Christopher O’Callaghan will hope to challenge at the top of two-wheel-drive in their Class 14 and 13 Ford Escorts.
Outside the top twenty seeds, Donegal’s Stuart Darcy and Brian Brogan have a four-wheel-drive Proton and Skoda at hand while Cal McCarthy makes his second appearance of the year in his Citroen DS3 R5.
Recently crowned Scottish and British National Rally Champion, Niall Burns, is navigating for Keith Lyons on the Kerry Winter Stages Rally. It’s Lyons’ third rally of the year in his Fiesta R5. It’s also Burns 17th event of 2021, his 10th in a row since winning the Woodpecker Rally on 4th September.
Usual front-runner Cathan McCourt is seeded 31st as he lines up in an historic specification Escort while Alan Ring and Ray Breen take their two Subaru Legacys out for another tarmac event.
Mark Falvey, Fergus O’Meara, and Denis Moynihan will provide McCourt plenty of competition in historic Escorts.
British Rally Championship regulars Eamonn Kelly and Casey Jay Coleman will switch their Rally4 Fiestas from gravel spec to tarmac spec for a trip to Banna. The winter rally will be good preparation for BRC’s Ulster Rally finale.
140 crews make up a stunning Kerry Winter Stages entry list with a further 39 in reserves. Three loops of two stages provides 90 kilometres of action along with a Saturday afternoon shakedown.
Photos by Adam Hall and Roger Dawson