CB Toolhire Cork 20 International Rally – 2019 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship
The final round of the 2019 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship takes place this coming weekend with the CB Toolhire Cork 20 International Rally. Although the overall championship has been decided in favour of Craig Breen, the other three categories are down for decision in Cork. The International Rally will see a new name inscribed on the winners trophy as no former winners feature, yet it could be one of the most open and exciting rounds of the season. Top seeds Callum Devine & Brian Hoy are deserved favourites having shown a terrific turn of pace all season and Devine will be looking to end the season on a high by moving into second place in the championship standings with a strong result. An outright win is the aim though and with the Derry drivers pace increasing with each event he will be hard to stop. Jonny Greer & Kirsty Riddick led the event briefly last year only to go off the road on the second day and Jonny will be looking to put in a strong performance again this year after a year of uncharacteristic inconsistency in terms of finishes.
Third seed Marty McCormack is not championship registered, but his appearance in the new VW Golf R5 will surely be one of the event highlights as it’s the first competitive appearance in Ireland for that car. Meirion Evans, Daniel Cronin and Cathan McCourt are others who are capable of outright victory, while Rob Duggan’s appearance in the Proton Iriz R5 will also be a source of much interest. David Guest will be in relative home territory in in his Skoda S2000 while Jordan Hone makes the transition to an R5 Fiesta for this event. The Modified Championship is between Damian Toner and David Condell after a yearlong battle. Toner very much had the better of exchanges in the opening two rounds in Galway and West Cork, but as the year has progressed, Condell has closed the gap. Condell’s times were extremely competitive on the previous round in Ulster where the stages were very much in Toners backyard. Toner still has a strong advantage, but cannot afford any slip ups on the final round.
The Historic Championship has been very well supported all year and this is reflected on the final round with most of those in the top ten standings entered in Cork. Duncan Williams leads the way, but Ray Cunningham in his remarkable Mini only lies eight points behind. Williams has taken top points on each of the last three rounds and is a regular visitor to the Cork 20 as he looks to tie up the title. Craig MacWilliam in third place has had a very consistent year in his beautifully prepared Escort Mk1 including taking top points on the UAC Easter Stages event. Adrian Kermode makes the long journey from the Isle of Man in his beautiful Porsche 911while the Luke McCarthy and George Cullen wheel out their fabulous Mark 2 Escorts in Cork. The Junior Championship will also be decided in Cork between Cian Walsh and John Joe Williams who are both from Cork, with Walsh currently holding a five point advantage over his fellow Cork driver.
The action gets underway just before midday on Saturday with the classic Kilnamartyra test and there are five stages on the opening day. The second days action begins with another classic, Mullaghanish at 9:30am with eight stages in all scheduled for Sunday. The first car is due back at the finish close to 4:30pm after thirteen special stages.