Craig Breen and Paul Nagle showed their world class to win the Killarney Historic Rally in a BMW M3. They finished a resounding 57 seconds ahead of Alan Ring’s Subaru Legacy.
The result is Breen’s maiden Killarney Historic win, he finished second behind Rob Duggan two years ago.
“The car was really lovely,” said Breen. “I enjoyed it immensely. It’s obviously the first time I have driven this car and I have to say it was really good.
“We did a lot of work with the car on the test and to be fair to Mats he has built an amazing car, it’s the reference for historic rallying anywhere right now.
“It has been a big thing for Paul to try to win Maurice’s [Paul’s father’s] trophy so it was great to get it.”
After their Rally of the Lakes win in 2019, Nagle is racking up his home wins. He already had two modified wins on the Killarney Historic Rally but his Historic win with Breen was one he was after.
“It’s the 25th anniversary of the rally,” Nagle began, “I had won the Rally of the Lakes, got the Tarmac Championship, my roots are very much at home even though we are in the world championship – to have these three trophies now, it is very special to me.
“I will always remember my roots, I love rallying, and I spent so long trying to win rallies at home. To come and win Killarney Historics, it is very, very special.
“I have to mention the motor club and all the people who ran the rally. I don’t know how they did it but they made it happen so they are the real winners today.”
Jonny Greer was Breen’s nearest challenger after Killarney’s opening Moll’s Gap stage but was still 15 seconds off the BMW’s pace. Greer’s Ford Sierra didn’t make it through the first loop however and second place was inherited by Ring.
Ring could only match Breen on both passes of Caragh Lake. He was 0.1 seconds off Breen’s winning pace on the first pass before going fastest on the second pass. That was Killarney’s final stage and Breen put on a perfect display of donuts on the rally’s last junction safe in the knowledge his rally win was secure.
Cathan McCourt was the first Ford Escort driver home. He finished third, two and a half minutes behind Breen.
BMWs were the flavour of the day as Donagh Kelly and Rory Kennedy brought their beautiful M3 home in fourth. Meanwhile, a hard charging Eamonn Kelly ensured his family came home with a brace of top-five finishes. Driving a Shell Oil liveried Escort, Kelly was clearly getting the knack of driving his new rear-wheel-drive car – he moved up from 12th after Stage 1 to finish fifth.
In modifieds, Rob Duggan and Ger Conway produced a dominant display to win by over a minute. As expected it was a race between Duggan and local rival Colin O’Donoghue through the opening three stages.
O’Donoghue managed to pull back 3.5 seconds from Duggan on Ballaghbeama but it was to be the only stage not won by Duggan all day. O’Donoghue’s challenge came to an end on Stage 5 when his Mk2 Escort suffered clutch problems for the second rally in succession.
Kevin Eves was ready and waiting to pick up second while Gary Kiernan sneaked into third through the second half of the day after finding himself in seventh after Stage 1.
But it was Duggan’s day. He remains the master of Killarney and his dominance of Moll’s Gap is proving quite the tradition. Teething problems with his newly built Escort left him unsure ahead of the rally but when it comes to Killarney it takes a lot to knock him off the top.
“It is nice to be back in the modifieds,” said winner Duggan. “The historics was good last time out but I think the modifieds is where we are at home. It is nice to get a good result in the new car so we are delighted.
“A lot of the stuff is ironed out, we still had problems up until scrutiny last night. There are still a few bits and pieces but it can’t be too bad to be at the front of the field here.”
Photos by Adam Hall