Irish Tarmac spices up for Killarney’s Rally of the Lakes

The race to become Craig Breen and Paul Nagle’s Irish Tarmac Rally Championship successors hots up this week. Leading contenders Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes will renew their rivalry with Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble on Killarney’s Rally of the Lakes.

Moffett and Hayes looked set to go three from three in ITRC before a final day fightback gave Fisher and Noble their first Circuit of Ireland victory just over a week ago.

Bogey time uncertainty provided an element of controversy to the intense rally battle. Nobody can deny Fisher of his four stage wins in a row to claim his Circuit success but there is no doubt Moffett will have extra motivation heading to Killarney.

Moffett’s runner-up finish in the County Antrim event remains his only non-win this year. Victory on last Sunday’s Monaghan Stages Rally was his fifth of the year.

Killarney’s Rally of the Lakes will be an altogether different prospect for the Monaghan driver. A sixth-placed finish four years ago is Moffett’s highest finish on the demanding rally. He retired from seventh on Killarney’s most recent 2019 running.

The mix of fast, wide, and flowing roads to bump-ridden twists and turns is the ultimate Irish Tarmac test for every crew. If Moffett can master this one in his Hyundai, he’ll be a hard man to catch at the front of the Irish Tarmac standings.

Fisher will be hoping to turn his second behind Breen in 2019 to a first this time around. Indeed, if that happens his runner-up championship finish three years ago looks more likely to become one place better this year.

Yes, it’s a case of ifs and buts… but isn’t it fantastic to have such anticipation heading to the Irish Tarmac’s fourth round of the season.

Seeded third, Callum Devine and Shane Byrne could well be good value to achieve their first win of the year. Devine found his R5 form in Killarney three years ago, going “fastest up the Gap” in a head-turning performance.

Devine was one driver to notice the suspension tweaks Breen and Nagle made to their Fiesta between Killarney’s contrasting stages in 2019. After finally getting his hands on a Volkswagen Polo R5 the soon-to-be 28-year-old will be aiming for an early birthday present. He’ll be expecting nothing short of top points this weekend.

Meirion Evans, Cathan McCourt, Jonny Greer, and Daniel Cronin will continue to provide healthy competition behind the main contenders.

Evans suffered his first disappointment of the season earlier in April. He knocked a wheel off his Polo on the Circuit’s final day, just when he thought he had recaptured his usual front-end form.

Declan Boyle, David Guest, and Owen Murphy complete a well-rounded top ten ready to tackle the Lakes.

Rob Duggan returns to the modified madness after his pacey performance on the West Cork Rally. Duggan’s Class 14 Ford Escort Mk2 will set a very high standard on his home event.

Fellow Kerryman Colin O’Donoghue will aim to keep up with his Escort rival. O’Donoghue’s Killarney Historic Rally challenge came to an unfortunate end last November, he’ll be hoping to keep more pressure on Duggan this time.

Irish Tarmac Modified frontrunner James Stafford looks set to bring his Darrian to the Rally of the Lakes for the first time in 14 years. A well-controlled second-place in Galway was topped by a West Cork win. Another top result on Killarney’s terrain would prove he is the all-around package.

Kevin Eves, Gary Kiernan, and Daniel McKenna will hope to close the gap to Duggan on his home ground. An unenviable task.

Killarney’s jam-packed entry includes Historic and Junior entries brimming with class and talent.

Six stages on Saturday precede a full-on Sunday. The final day features four loops with two stages in each, including Moll’s Gap and Ballaghbeama.

Ireland has enjoyed a few sensational rallies already this year but this could very well be the best yet.

2022 Killarney Rally of the Lakes itinerary

SS1 Kilsarcon 1 (19.90 km) // 11:20
SS2 Banard 1 (19.90 km) // 12:03
SS3 Gortnagane 1 (10.96 km) // 12:48

SS4 Kilsarcon 2 (19.90 km) // 14:30
SS5 Banard 2 (19.90 km) // 15:14
SS6 Gortnagane 2 (10.96 km) 15:59

SS7 Moll’s Gap 1 (17.57 km) // 07:30
SS8 Ballaghbeama 1 (14.85 km) // 08:22

SS9 Moll’s Gap 2 (17.57 km) // 10:36
SS10 Ballaghbeama 2 (14.85 km) // 11:28

SS11 Shanera 1 (14.39 km) // 13:36
SS12 Caragh Lake 1 (14.26 km) // 14:17

SS13 Shanera 2 (14.39 km) // 16:11
SS14 Caragh Lake 2 (14.26 km) // 16:52

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Photos by David Harrigan

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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