After three years of ready, the Donegal Worldwide Rally is sort of upon us. Three days and 300 stage kilometres lie forward of Eire’s main rally stars.
An overflowing entry listing of 200-plus crews hints on the attraction of the Emerald Isle’s greatest rally.
It’s going to be an excellent one.
Race for rally honours
Sam Moffett heads a string of potential rally winners. The 2-time Donegal Rally winner is seeded first after beating World Rally Championship ace Craig Breen in 2019.
Keith Moriarty is about to navigate for the Monaghan driver. He’ll be hoping Moffett can steer him to his first style of successful champagne at Donegal’s Mount Errigal end ramp.
Moffett and Moriarty will man the 2019-winning Ford Fiesta WRC which might neutralise Moffett’s lack of driving so far in 2022. They face stiff competitors from the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship’s main Rally2 crews.
Callum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan proceed their profitable early partnership in Donegal. The driving force from neighbouring County Derry was quickest of the R5s three years in the past.
Punctures and mechanical points hit Devine’s Irish Tarmac Rally Championship marketing campaign on West Cork and Circuit of Eire rallies. A formidable run to victory on a thrilling Rally of the Lakes final outing makes Devine ITRC’s type man and a formidable prospect heading to Donegal.
Devine is second within the Irish Tarmac Championship standings, 21 factors behind Josh Moffett. Nonetheless, ITRC’s coverage of crews dropping their two lowest scores would cut back Devine’s hole to 5 factors.
Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble will even profit from dropped scores. They’ve proven a renewed flip of tempo because the Circuit of Eire, sealing their second international win on the Ballymena-based event.
It regarded like Fisher would go two from two in Killarney however a slide into the Kerry bocage on his ultimate stage shootout with Devine as an alternative had him depart Kerry along with his first non-finish of the 12 months. It was an unforgiving consequence of braking a car-length too late, Fisher’s sole mistake on an in any other case faultless occasion.
Moffett, Devine, and Fisher have actually upped the ante on latest Irish Tarmac rounds. Whereas ITRC stays their primary precedence in 2022, a maiden Donegal win could be arduous to withstand ought to they discover themselves within the combine.
Moffett didn’t problem for a win in Killarney however his assured drive via the barren mountain passes was rewarded with a runner-up end.
The 2018 Irish Tarmac Champion has cruised to 2 nationwide rally victories since and is displaying no indicators of slipping up on his double marketing campaign this 12 months.
Cathan McCourt, Meirion Evans, and Jonny Greer full Donegal’s main ITRC contenders. All three drivers have proven they’ve the flexibility to set stage-winning instances in worldwide rallies this 12 months.
The Citroen and Volkswagen pilots head what’s a really robust second half to Donegal Rally’s prime ten.
Reigning British Rally Champion Matt Edwards is a welcome addition to Donegal’s entry listing. The Welshman had lined up Darren Gass’s Citroen C3 Rally2 to rent for the three-day rally.
Edwards’ deal would put David Moynihan again within the co-driver seat. Edwards had the same ambition to compete on Galway’s season-opener. That drive fell aside however witnessing Edwards take the struggle to Eire’s finest in Donegal appears a extra probably prospect.
Desi Henry is one other non-ITRC driver heading for the hills. The Maiden Metropolis Levels winner set the Circuit of Eire and Tyrone Levels’ early tempo earlier than grinding to a halt with mechanical gremlins.
If his Ford Fiesta Rally2 performs ball over Donegal’s 20 levels, Henry’s type might very properly put him and native navigator, Paddy Robinson, in with a shout of victory.
All of the drivers talked about up to now, excluding Sam Moffett, have by no means received Donegal earlier than. There’s a good probability we’ll see a brand new victor on Sunday afternoon.
One driver hoping that isn’t the case is Declan Boyle. The 2014 winner is seeded eighth in his Ford Fiesta WRC. The native favorite has had a torrid run of type and fortune in latest occasions culminating in a hefty hit on the Tyrone Levels.
Boyle is rarely removed from the tempo, the truth is, he set it on Donegal’s day one levels three years in the past. One other race to house victory could be the right treatment for what has been a irritating rallying 12 months for Boyle up to now.
Two-time winners Garry Jennings and Gareth MacHale are seeded ninth and 14th respectively in a right-hand-drive Fiesta and Polo.
There are near 40 World Rally, Rally2, and R5 automobiles tackling Donegal this 12 months. Left- and right-hand-drive, it doesn’t matter. With Motorsport Eire’s recent regulation change, anybody can struggle for Donegal’s coveted crown.
Modified mania… strive following this battle
There have been fairly a couple of tantalising two-wheel-drive tussles in Eire this 12 months. Suppose Jason Black versus Gary Kiernan and Daniel McKenna, Rob Duggan versus Kevin Eves and James Stafford. I’m certain there are extra.
Properly, unsurprisingly Donegal seems set to blow all of them away. Title a two-wheel-drive star and they’re there, all gunning for Friday morning’s Dooish Hill start-line.
Ryan Loughran tops the two-wheel-drive listing hoping to defend his 2019 Nationwide Rally win. The Rally2 preparator come Ford Escort tamer has been gearing up for Donegal by competing on a couple of single-day rallies prior to now month. Loughran claimed two-wheel-drive honours on the final outing in Tyrone.
David Bogie, Gary McPhillips, and Daniel McKenna are three extra Mk2 Escort males hoping so as to add to their successful tally in Donegal. Bogie and McPhillips have topped modifieds in Donegal twice earlier than with McKenna’s 2011 nationwide win adequate for fifth within the total classification.
Frank Kelly has completed runner-up 3 times prior to now. He’s been in high-quality type behind the wheel of Child Blue this 12 months. If there was a 12 months to assert your maiden Donegal win, this may certainly be it.
With Kevin Eves, James Stafford, Rob Duggan, Gary Kiernan, Damian Tourish, Kevin Gallagher, and Declan Gallagher all added to the combo, if any modified crew is lacking tempo, consistency, or luck over the three days, they’ll wave goodbye to any hope of victory.
Ford Escorts, Darrian T90s, Toyota Corollas and Starlets… there’s a mighty mixture of modifieds to comply with.
A splendid array of historic automobiles and crews will be part of the celebration on Saturday whereas the ever-competitive juniors will struggle for spoils on Sunday.
It has been a protracted three years. The 2022 Donegal Worldwide Rally has all of the elements to be among the best ever witnessed. We’ll simply have to attend to see the way it all pans out.
2022 Donegal Worldwide Rally itinerary
SS1 Dooish Hill 1 (15.37 km)
SS2 An Grianan 1 (11.14 km)
SS3 Mouldy Hill 1 (12.99 km)
SS4 Dooish Hill 2 (15.37 km)
SS5 An Grianan 2 (11.14 km)
SS6 Mouldy Hill 2 (12.99 km)
SS7 Carnhill 1 (14.19 km)
SS8 Fanad Head 1 (19.88 km)
SS9 Knockalla 1 (19.61 km)
SS10 Carnhill 2 (14.19 km)
SS11 Fanad Head 2 (19.88 km)
SS12 Knockalla 2 (19.61 km)
SS13 Carnhill 3 (14.19 km)
SS14 Fanad Head 3 (19.88 km)
SS15 Gartan 1 (15.64 km)
SS16 Excessive Glen 1 (12.00 km)
SS17 Atlantic Drive 1 (12.87 km)
SS18 Gartan 2 (15.64 km)
SS19 Excessive Glen 2 (12.00 km)
SS20 Atlantic Drive 2 (12.87 km)
Entry listing (High 16)
1 Sam Moffett – Keith Moriarty (Ford Fiesta WRC)
2 Callum Devine – Noel O’Sullivan (Volkswagen Polo R5)
3 Josh Moffett – Andy Hayes (Hyundai i20 R5)
4 Alastair Fisher – Gordon Noble (Polo R5)
5 Matt Edwards – David Moynihan (Citroen C3 Rally2)
6 Cathan McCourt – Liam Moynihan (C3 Rally2)
7 Meirion Evans – Jonathan Jackson (Polo R5)
8 Declan Boyle – James O’Reilly (Fiesta WRC)
9 Garry Jennings – Rory Kennedy (Fiesta R5)
10 Jonny Greer – Dai Roberts (C3 Rally2)
11 Desi Henry – Paddy Robinson (Fiesta Rally2)
12 Seamus Leonard – John McCaffrey (Fiesta Rally2)
14 Gareth MacHale – Brian Murphy (Polo R5)
15 Eamonn Kelly – Conor Mohan (Polo R5)
16 Joseph McGonigle – Ciaran Geaney (Fiesta R5)
17 David Kelly – Dean O’Sullivan (Fiesta R5)
Two-wheel-drive (High 16)
18 Ryan Loughran – Gareth Doherty (Ford Escort Mk2)
19 Kevin Eves – Chris Melly (Toyota Corolla)
20 Daniel McKenna – Andrew Grennan (Escort)
21 Damien Tourish – Domhnall McAlaney (Escort)
22 James Stafford – Thomas Scallan (Darrian T90)
23 Declan Gallagher – Derek Heena (Toyota Starlet)
24 David Bogie – John Rowan (Escort)
25 Kevin Gallagher – Ryan Moore (Darrian T90)
26 Gary Kiernan – Darren O’Brien (Escort)
27 Rob Duggan – Ger Conway (Escort)
28 Frank Kelly – Lauren Kelly (Escort)
29 Mark Alcorn – James McNulty (Escort)
30 Damian Toner – Denver Rafferty (Escort)
31 Chris Armstrong – TBA (Escort)
32 Gary McPhillips – Liam Brennan (Escort)
33 Jonathan Pringle – Paul Sheridan (Escort)
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Images by David Harrigan and Adam Corridor
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