On Monday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Damien Crawford, and Graig Breen for Motormouth in Daragh’s absence. It was good fun and Damien gave us the low down on the Topaz Donegal Rally. It brought back fond memories of the Cartell.ie Rally of The Lakes. I was particularly impressed with Graig again. However we wish all of the drivers a safe and successful Rally.
Last year’s winner Gareth MacHale and his co-driver Brian Murphy in their Focus WRC head a star studded entry on this 18th – 20th June Topaz Donegal International Rally. With drivers such as Tim McNulty and Derek McGarrity in their Subaru Impreza WRC’s seeded just behind Gareth, there promises to be quite a rally in store.
This year the inclusion of a town special stage, a blast through the streets of Buncrana just after 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon of the 18th should prove an extra attraction. This adds to the burden of organisation of course, but the Donegal Motor Club under the direction of Clerk of the Course Danny Gormley, along with the hundreds of experienced volunteers who make the rally happen, are well up to the job.
The first 10 seeds are:-
1. Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Focus WRC)
2. Tim McNulty/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC)
3. Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
4. Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Lancer Evo 10)
5. Sean Devine/Robert McDaid (Subaru Impreza WRC)
6. Aaron MacHale/Eugene O’Donnell (Focus WRC)
7. Alastair Fisher/Rory Kennedy (Lancer Evo 9)
8. Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts (Fiesta S2000)
9. Daragh O’Riordan/Tony McDaid Subaru Impreza WRC)
10. PJ McDermott/Francis Regan (Subaru Impreza WRC)
Since winning the Topaz Donegal International this time last year Gareth MacHale has had some great rally success. However a dominant start for Gareth this season with a win in Galway has been tempered by an electrical gremlin in his Focus on the Circuit of Ireland and then a blown engine on the Cartell.ie Killarney Rally of the Lakes.
Tim McNulty has also had mechanical disappointments with his car this season and although he has had wins in West Cork and Cavan this year, the No.2 seed is trebling his efforts and determination to win in Donegal. Derek McGarrity at No.3 seems to have found his second wind this season as witnessed by his performance in winning the Circuit of Ireland, and he would dearly love to put his name on the Topaz Donegal
British Rally Champion Keith Cronin starts at 4 in a GpN Lancer Evo 10. This
will be his first run in this Lancer, so Keith will be in at the deep end a little, but this young West Cork man is just so talented, so world class, that he could surprise many of the established stars.
Sean Devine is at 5 in his Impreza WRC, and Sean doesn’t exactly hang around
either when he gets behind the wheel of his Subaru. Interestingly Sean has former Donegal Rally Results Officer, Robert McDaid, co-driving, while Robert’s son Tony is co-driving for Cork man Daragh O’Riordan, also in an Impreza WRC, at 9. That little needle match should make for some interesting light conversation in the McDaid household! Aaron MacHale, in an older model Focus WRC to his brother Gareth, starts at 6 just one place on the road ahead of Alastair Fisher.
Another driver who could really shake the Donegal equation is young Craig
Breen. In his Fiesta Super 2000 Craig led the recent Jim Clark International Rally until his Fiesta’s engine gave up. The car handles superbly, will have a new engine fitted for Donegal, and Craig now has great experience with this new breed of rally car. He has a great opportunity here. Daragh O’Riordan at 9 has been a breath of fresh air this year as he has settled in to ‘WRC motoring’ with his Subaru, and PJ McDermott at 10 is the local man with the knowledge and experience of the Donegal roads and has fantastic motivation to do well here.
The rally HQ hotel is the Mount Errigal and the start is from Letterkenny on Friday morning. The rally returns to Letterkenny after 6 stages for an overnight halt with the first car back at 19.57. Saturday restarts at 08.30 for 8 stages out towards Milford returning to Letterkenny at 19.08. The Sunday leg has 6 stages in the Downings region and the first cars leave parc ferme at 10.00 hrs, returning to the Mount Errigal
Hotel finish ramp at 17.14.
The Historic cars will slot in behind the main field on the Saturday morning and then the Juniors on the Sunday morning. The top seed in the Historics is John Keatley/James McKeefry in their Porsche 911. The top seed in the Juniors is Anthony Hand/Aidan Boyle (Escort). The rally is also a round of the Citroen Racing Trophy and Michael Barrable/Damien Connolly in their C2R2 Max are the top Citroen seeds and start at No.49. The Citroens compete over all the stages.
However we wish all of the drivers a safe and successful Rally.
For more information on the rally visit the Donegal rally website,