The sports calendars seem to have re-aligned. The Cork ’20’ International Rally will take place a week after the All-Ireland Football Final.
Like the GAA, Motorsport Ireland is trying to streamline its events schedule and this weekend’s Little Island-based rally is one of the biggest changes to the calendar.
Instead of its traditional slot in late September or early October, Cork ’20’ will now occupy the August weekend date.
As always, Kerry has a strong presence in the two-day rally, the final round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.
The winning team of Callum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan’s Lakes Rally is leading the field.
The Volkswagen Polo crew came very close to winning last month’s Donegal International Rally, until they collided with a Chicken Bell on Sunday morning.
Yet Muckross co-driver O’Sullivan is hoping to get back into a competitive field.
“It’s great to be back in another round of the Irish Tarmac Championship. It was 2014 since the last time I’ve corked that makes me feel a little old,” he said.
“As always it will be a big race against the boys next weekend.”
Daniel Cronin and London-based Rockfield co-driver Shane Buckley may be hoping to put last weekend’s bad luck behind them. He broke a track control arm on a stonethrowers rally in his similar polo.
Vincent O’Shea was the best of the Kerry drivers in the Stonethrowers rally. The Darien T90 driver is reunited with local co-driver Eoin O’Donoghue, making it an all-carry affair at the event.
Mike Quinn of the Kerry Motor Club marked his first trip since the Lakes Rally, when a rear def issue in his Ford Escort forced retirement for him and his co-driver Kieran Doherty.
North Kerry’s Tim Enright has returned to the game after a long hiatus. The Ford Escort Mk2 driver hasn’t competed since the 2019 Clare Rally. He has not yet nominated a co-driver for the event.
Bob Moran leads his class in the Southern 4 Championship, with Cork ’20’ a counting round.
Michelle Hickey will co-drive her John Hickey in his infamous Fubaru Escort 4×4. Their last outing as a team, the 2019 Lakes Rally, resulted in third place in the class.
Kerry Motor Club president Eoin Duffin and co-driver Mike Cleary are expected to have engine problems that side-line their Ford Escort Mk2 during the Circuit of Munster behind them.
Plug lead issues hindered Raymond O’Neill’s progress during a recent Stonethrowers rally, but he and co-driver Padraig O’Donovan are always in contention for Class 12.
London-based Listowel driver Ross Hilliard competes in a Honda Civic in Class 11F. Amy Burke marks her second journey as a driver in a rented Ford Escort
Alan Ring and Adrian Dessi are the top seeds in the historic element of the rally in their Subaru Legacy RS. His final outing resulted in a class victory at the Rally of the Lakes.
Brian Duggan is on co-driving duty for Luke McCarthy. The Kerry/Cork crew chasing Irish Tarmac Historic Rally Championship points in their Ford Escort RS1800 Mk2.
Special mention to Ray Breen, father of World Rally Championship star Craig, and whose father was from the Strand Road area of Trolley. He and co-driver Damien Morrissey compete in a similar legacy RS Two Rings. This is Morris’ first rally since 2015 and his second since 2009.
Rathmore teacher Declan Casey and his Fermanagh driver Michael McDaid are chasing both Irish and Welsh historic championships this year. Ford Escort RS1800 crew finish second at Donegal in June
Peter Falvey and Irla McCarthy (Ford Escort RS1800 MK2) are another team competing for the first time since the Lakes Rally.
Lixnaw’s Tommy Komen and his driver Philip McKibbin had to rely on Super Rally rules to get their Ford Escort Mk1s by the end of the Donegal International Rally in June, hoping for a more straight run this time around.
The absence of Killarney’s Aaron Farrell has handed the Irish Junior Tarmac Rally Championship title to Ryan McHugh of Donegal.
Still, Carey is well represented on the Junior Cork ’20’ entry list.
Gary Healy and Gyroyd Moynihan (Honda Civic EK4) are the fourth seeds. The relative newcomer is already this season after strong performances on the circuit of the Munster and Stonethrowers rally.
Jamie O’Rourke and Patrick Brislain of Kerry Motor Club start a J7 in another Honda Civic.