The West Cork Rally is back after a three-year break and its 2022 running could well be its best yet. An astounding 198 crews will tackle the sublime stages that surround its host town Clonakilty.
The second round of this year’s Irish Tarmac Rally Championship has 14 stages over its two days of action. West Cork’s international and national crews face over 210 competitive kilometres on top-class tests like Ardfield, Ring, and Sam’s Cross.
Hyundai i20 R5 pilot Josh Moffett has been Irish rallying’s benchmark so far in 2022. His two asphalt outings in February and March have resulted in two controlled wins. The 2018 Irish Tarmac Rally Champion looks to be back to his best in the finely tuned Hyundai.
Moffett and co-driver Andy Hayes are seeded second for West Cork behind 2019 rally runners-up Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble. The Northern Irish duo was the closest challenger to the World Rally Championship crew of Craig Breen and Paul Nagle three years ago.
A trialling defence of his 2020 Galway Rally win last month leaves Fisher hoping for a better return for his efforts in West Cork. He continues behind the wheel of a Melvyn Evans prepared Volkswagen Polo R5.
Callum Devine completes West Cork Rally’s top three after finishing third on ITRC’s season opener. The Ford Fiesta Rally2 driver has a new co-driver for West Cork in Donegal’s Shane Byrne. It will be the 29-year-old’s debut event in a Rally2 specification car although he has previously sat in with Devine on tests.
The performance of Wales’ Meirion Evans and Jonathan Jackson in Galway was a highlight for many in February. It was their third bridesmaid finish in a row in Ireland, can they go one better in Clonakilty? Meirion’s Father Melvyn is a two-time West Cork Rally winner back in the 2000s.
Cathan McCourt, Garry Jennings, and Daniel Cronin will look to build on their positive showings in Galway; they run fifth, seventh, and eighth on the road.
The Citroen C3 Rally2 of Jonny Greer will finally get its ITRC debut in West Cork. Greer has looked strong behind the wheel of the French car, scoring several wins in Northern Ireland.
County Cork drivers Owen Murphy and David Guest complete a highly competitive top ten.
As written earlier this week, the race to claim modified honours is set to heat up further on the West Cork Rally.
The top two-wheel-drive entries include Galway winner Gary Kiernan, Mayo Stages Rally winner Jason Black, 2017 ITRC Modified champion Kevin Eves, Cork 20 pacesetter James Stafford, West Cork specialist John Dalton, Killarney flyer Robert Duggan, 2019 champion Damian Toner, as well as Daniel McKenna and Declan Gallagher.
Oh, and a certain Frank Kelly will be out to entertain too. Did I mention Sam Moffett continues his Toyota Starlet switch in West Cork? It’s impossible to draw a line here…
Eamonn Kelly leads the front-wheel-drive entries in his Ford Fiesta Rally4 while Ryan Caldwell will look to impress once again in his similar Fiesta.
Joseph Kelly, James Boland, John O’Rourke, and Aoife Raftery round out the category.
West Cork’s Historic battle may very well go down in history as no less than 25 crews tackle the south coast event. West Cork is the Historic’s third round of the Acesigns Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. Honours have been split between Neil and Duncan Williams so far with both drivers entered for West Cork.
Alan Ring and Ray Breen return to the championship in their Subaru Legacys with Italy’s Tamara Molinaro calling pacenotes for the latter.
Ryan McHugh leads the way in Juniors ahead of ITRC Junior points leader Jason Farrell. 13 Junior crews have entered the West Cork Rally, with all but one crew in Honda Civics. The Class 16 Juniors will do battle across West Cork’s six stages on Sunday.
2022 West Cork Rally entry list (top ten)
1 Alastair Fisher – Gordon Noble (Volkswagen Polo R5)
2 Josh Moffett – Andy Hayes (Hyundai i20 R5)
3 Callum Devine – Shane Byrne (Ford Fiesta Rally2)
4 Meirion Evans – Jonathan Jackson (Polo R5)
5 Cathan McCourt – Liam Moynihan (Fiesta Rally2)
6 Garry Jennings – Rory Kennedy (Fiesta R5)
7 Daniel Cronin – Shane Buckley (Polo R5)
8 Jonny Greer – Dai Roberts (Citroen C3 Rally2)
9 Owen Murphy – Anthony Nestor (Fiesta R5)
10 David Guest – Jonathan McGrath (Fiesta R5)
2022 West Cork Rally itinerary
SS1 // Ardfield 1, 13.8 km – 10:20
SS2 // Haye’s Cross 1, 11.6 km – 10:50
SS3 // Ardfield 2, 13.8 km – 11:59
SS4 // Haye’s Cross 2, 11.6 km – 12:29
SS5 // Sam’s Cross 1, 16.3 km – 13:29
SS6 // Rossmore 1, 13.5 km – 14:03
SS7 // Sam’s Cross 2, 16.3 km – 15:18
SS8 // Rossmore 2, 13.5 km – 15:52
SS9 // Ring 1, 16.9 km – 12:07
SS10 // Clogagh 1, 19.6 km – 12:42
SS11 // Ballinascarthy 1, 19.1 km – 13:25
SS12 // Ring 2, 16.9 km – 14:52
SS13 // Clogagh 2, 19.6 km – 15:27
SS14 // Ballinascarthy 2, 19.1 km – 16:10
Photos by Kevin O’Driscoll and Cian Donnellan