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ITRC Battles set to rage on West Cork Rally

Words: Adam Hall. Pictures: David Harrigan.


The 2024 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship heads south to Clonakilty for West Cork Rally’s Saint Patrick’s weekend classic. The hugely popular event will take place over three days for the first time with crews taking on extra stages on Friday including a loop in darkness.




Two-time West Cork Rally victors Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes line up first on the road as they look to win their third Clonakilty crown in as many years.

Moffett scored a positive podium finish on ITRC’s Galway International Rally opener as he made a solid start to his season on his Citroen C3 Rally2 debut.




The Monaghan-based driver had hoped to get more accustomed to his Citroen on the Mayo Stages Rally but an impact with a round bale on stage one spoiled those plans. With a vast array of rivals heading to West Cork, if Moffett can grab his hat-trick of West Cork wins this weekend, it would be one of his greatest achievements to date.



Galway International Rally winners and championship leaders Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin are seeded third for the West Cork Rally. Cronin showed his everlasting class in Galway's slippery stages and will be many people's favourite as the seven-round series heads to his home county. The Ford Fiesta Rally2 crew’s dominant 38.1-second victory on a tough championship opener has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons in the early fight for Irish Tarmac honours.




Reigning Irish Tarmac Champions Callum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan quietly went about their business on round one to secure their best result in Galway. Devine’s runner-up finish was a solid start to his title defence, however, he will be hoping to go one better in West Cork aboard his Volkswagen Polo R5.


Seeded fourth for West Cork, Matt Edwards had a Saturday morning to forget in Galway as he crashed out in his Fiesta. The Welshman returned to action on Sunday with stage times that showed his capability of claiming Irish Tarmac wins in 2024.

Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy’s Junior World Rally Champions, William Creighton and Liam Regan are no strangers to West Cork and complete an incredibly talented top five in their WRC2 Ford Fiesta Rally2.


The top twenty is flooded with big Rally2 names including 2014 Irish Tarmac Champion Declan Boyle, regular frontrunner Jonny Greer, and Cork contenders David Guest, Cal McCarthy, and Owen Murphy.

  

Rally4



Ryan MacHugh and Declan Boyle are top Rally4 seeds in West Cork after sealing a last-minute victory in Galway over Keelan Grogan.


Grogan returns to action in West Cork aboard his Peugeot 208 Rally4 which features in the opening round of the Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup.


Ioan Lloyd is another of ten 208 pilots and will look forward to showing his pace in Ireland again after an impressive ITRC campaign in 2023.



Cian Caldwell, Kyle McBride, and Casey Jay Coleman are some of the other leading names driving Peugoet's Rally4 offering.


2023 Billy Coleman Award finalist Craig Rahill is seeded just behind MacHugh in a Ford Fiesta Rally4.


McEvoy Motorsport Modified ITRC




James Stafford tops West Cork’s modified field in his rapid Darrian T90. Stafford narrowly missed out on the modified title two years ago and is as quick as they come along the south coast of Ireland.


John Dalton is another Darrian pilot more than capable of claiming two-wheel-drive honours while Kevin Eves will be hoping to bounce back from a disappointing Galway outing in his Toyota Corolla.


Frank and Lauren Kelly made a dream start to their McEvoy Motorsport Modified ITRC campaign. Locked in a weekend-long battle with Conor Murphy and Rodney Wilton, Kelly kept his foot down to slide Baby Blue to a popular modified victory in Galway.


Kelly and Murphy will renew their rivalry on round two while Jonathan Pringle joins the party after his two-wheel-drive victory on the recent Mayo Stages Rally.

There will be Ford Escorts aplenty in Clonakilty driven by top drivers like Gary McPhillips, 2019 champion Damian Toner, and Cork’s Colin Byrne.


Sherwood Engines Historic ITRC




2022 West Cork Historic Rally winners Neil Williams and Anthony O’Sullivan are seeded first in this year’s star-studded historic section. Williams will lead the way in the category whose rally gets underway on Saturday morning.


Winner in Galway, Meirion Evans will follow Williams up the road in his Ford Escort RS1800 as leading historic navigator Declan Casey partners the Welshman for the first time. Ray Breen completes the top three in his pacey Subaru Legacy.




Tomas Davies’ consistency in the top three this season has given him an early 12.5-point lead over round one winner Thomas Clark. Clark’s mechanical failure in Galway cost him dear but once again impressed up to then. The two rivals are seeded fourth and fifth respectively for West Cork.


Wayne Evans, Tommy McDonagh, Duncan Williams, John O’Donnell, and Adrian Evans extend the theme of top-class historic entries.

  

Paul Browne Plant Hire & Civil Engineering Junior ITRC


12 junior crews are set to take on West Cork’s six Sunday stages. Evan McEvoy and Ciaran O’Sullivan are seeded first and will be hoping for a better run than last year which ended on the second stage.


Kyle Browne, Barry McIntyre, Ronan Lacey, and Dylan Sheehan will provide plenty of competition in the class filled with Honda Civics.


Sheenan holds a five-point advantage over McIntyre after the championship’s opening round.

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