Kirkistown and Killarney host Irish rally double-header

Several rally championships commence in Ireland this weekend on Saturday’s Kirkistown Stages Rally and Sunday’s Killarney Forestry Rally.

Jonny Greer will kick off his Northern Ireland Rally Championship defence on the asphalt series’ annual single-venue opener. The Citroen C3 Rally2 driver is seeded second behind 2020 Kirkistown Stages winner Stephen Wright.

The Killarney Forestry Rally returns for the first time in 15 years and Ireland’s gravel heroes look set to be treated to three top class stages.

2019 Forest Rally Champion, Cathan McCourt, tops Killarney Forestry Rally’s entry list in a unique two-litre Ford Fiesta. McCourt will be closely followed by another Forest champion, Desi Henry, as well as rising stars Jordan Hone and Patrick O’Brien. Gareth Sayers completes a competitive top five.

Over 90 entries have been received for Killarney which kicks off the Irish Forest Rally Championship, the Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series, and the Kingdom of Kerry Championship.

A familiar two-wheel-drive battle will rage between the Ford Escorts and Toyota Starlet of David Condell, Shane McGirr, Frank Kelly, Michael Conlon, and Adrian Hetherington.

Ford Fiesta pilots Ryan Caldwell and Kyle McBride lead Killarney’s front-wheel-drive category. A string of Junior 1600 and Junior 1000 crews follow in a line-up that showcases MI’s dual-surface Junior Rally Series.

Billy Coleman Award and 45,000 EUR incentives make the Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series a key stepping stone for young drivers on the Emerald Isle.

Jack Brennan tops Killarney’s 15-strong J1000 entry which is fought between drivers aged 15-18.

An incredible 19 Rally2, R5, and World Rally Cars will race against the clock on Saturday’s Kirkistown Stages Rally. Greer will be joined by 2012 Irish Tarmac Champion Darren Gass who is also set to drive a Citroen C3. Michael McGarrity is another to leap into the French marque’s Rally2 car.

Joe McGonigle, Aaron McLaughlin, and Derek McGarrity are more drivers aiming for top results on the Northern Irish event.

Kirkistown will run six stages in total, providing 41 kilometres of competitive action.

Kirkistown Stages Rally top ten

1 // Stephen Wright – Ger Conway (Ford Fiesta R5)
2 // Jonny Greer – Darragh Mullen (Citroen C3 Rally2)
3 // Darren Gass – James McCarville (C3 R5)
4 // Derek McGarrity – Graham Henderson (Skoda Fabia)
5 // Aaron McLaughlin – Darren Curran (Ford Fiesta WRC)

6 // Kenny McKinstry – TBA (Ford Fiesta WRC)
7 // Phillip Allen – TBA (Fiesta R5)
8 // Nigel Feeney – Charley Sayer-Payne (Fiesta WRC)
9 // Emma McKinstry – Kenny Hull (Fiesta R5)
10 // Joseph McGonigle – Ciaran Geaney (Fiesta R5)

2022 Northern Ireland Rally Championship

R1 // Kirkistown Stages – 19 February
R2 // Bishopscourt Stages – 12 March
R3 // Maiden City Stages – 21 May
R4 // Tyrone Stages – 4 June
R5 // Down Rally – 23 July

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Killarney Forestry Rally top ten

1 // Cathan McCourt – Liam Moynihan (Ford Fiesta S2000 Turbo)
2 // Desi Henry – Paddy Robinson (Fiesta)
3 // Patrick O’Brien – Stephen O’Brien (Fiesta R5)
4 // Jordan Hone – Paul Hone (Fiesta R5)
5 // Gareth Sayers – Gareth Gilchrist (Fiesta R5)

6 // Brendan Cumiskey – TBA (Volkswagen Polo R5)
7 // Gerard Lucey – Donagh Crowley (Mitsubishi Evo 8)
8 // Niall Henry – Damien Duffin (Fiesta R5)
9 // Martin Cairns – TBA (Fiesta WRC)
10 // Ray Breen – Andy Hayes (TBA)

Killarney Forestry Rally schedule

SS1 // Mount Eagle 1, 9.88 km – 10:31
SS2 // Forenane 1, 16.00 km – 10:58
SS3 // Enrights Gap 1, 5.54 km – 11:50

SS4 // Mount Eagle 2, 9.88 km – 13:41
SS5 // Forenane 2, 16.00 km – 14:08
SS6 // Enrights Gap 2, 5.54 km – 15:00

Photos by Graham Baalham-Curry and Cian Donnellan

Adam Hall

Brought up in the Irish countryside, Adam was never far away from the world of rallying. From following local events like the Circuit of Ireland and the Ulster Rally, Adam now puts the stories from stages all around the world into words through his website Rally Insight.

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