30th Kerry Winter Rally
Kerry Motor Club hosts its annual Banna Beach Resort Kerry Winter Rally on Sunday with over 80 cars expected to take to the start line of the popular end of season rally.
Contested over six special stages in Ardfert area of North Kerry where recent farming activity is expected to make the going very slippery in places, ensuring the 30th running of the event will be as challenging as ever.
If ever one family could lay claim to ownership of a rally, then the Cronins of Ballylickey in West Cork have a strong-case for such a claim. Denis and his nephews Keith and Daniel have eight titles between them.
Top seed is last year’s winner Daniel Cronin, surprisingly in a Mitsubishi Lancer E10 and not his usual Ford Fiesta R5. He and co-driver, local man Shane Buckley, will hoping to equal Keith previous hattrick on the event after previously taking the title in 2014 in a Subaru Impreza World Rally Car.
Another former winner on the entry list is local hero and 2013 victor Mike Quinn and Tony Healy in their potent 2.4 Escort Mk2. The Kerry Motor Club crew, apart from overall honours, will be chasing the Donal O’Flaherty Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the top club crew driving at two-wheel-drive car.
Former Billy Coleman award winner Stuart Darcy has entered in his newly acquired Darrien T90GTR and could be a force to be reckoned with if the roads stay dry.
Local man Tim Enright is in pole position to take the Top Part West Coast Championship in his Ford Escort, to record his first major rally title in over ten years of rallying. His nearest rival is former champion Shane Maguire in a Mitsubishi Lancer E9 but once there are 16 registered crews between Maguire and Enright at the end of the event the title will stay in County Kerry.
Tom Relihan and Maurice McElligott are two more members of Kerry Motor Club capable of a top result and will also be in the running for the Donal O’Flaherty Cup.
The rally is all about debuts too, with many of the entry making their first foray into stage rallying. Tralee man Daniel Chung is the current KMC Autosolo champion but Sunday’s event is his first rally in a newly acquired Honda Civic. Husband and wife team, David and Marie Griffin, a pair synonymous with the organisational side of rallying in Kerry over the last 20 years are another set of newcomers to take on the challenge in a historic-spec Toyota Corolla. Ardfert man Jakes Kelly is a previous winner of the event, as a codriver, and while he has driven rally cars on events in the past, this is his first time tackling his home event. Meanwhile Katie Quinn, daughter of 2013 winner Mick, will contest her second rally in another Civic.
The rally starts from just outside the Banna Beach Hotel at 9.20am on Sunday morning, before a short service halt on the sea front in Ballyheigue a short -time later. Ahead lie six fast but demanding stages in the north Kerry area before a 1530 finish at the hotel later that evening.