THE entry for Sunday’s Donegal Harvest Rally that includes Ballylickey’s Daniel Cronin (Ford Fiesta R5) is brimming with quality and is oversubscribed.
The majority of the drivers that filled the top places in the recent O’Connell Group Cork 20 International Rally are onboard for the six stage event that is based in Donegal town.
Cork 20 winner Derry’s Callum Devine (Ford Fiesta Rally2), who won this event when it last ran in 2019, is the favourite for victory. Local ace Donagh Kelly (VW Polo GTi R5), who finished second to Devine in 2019, will be very determined to erase the disappointment of exiting in Cork after six of the nine stages.
The Hyundai i20 duo of Monaghan’s Josh Moffett and Portglenone’s Desi Henry should also be at the competitive edge as Sam Moffett tries to get to grips with the Ford Fiesta Rally 2 that he found difficult to push to the limit in Cork. It will be interesting to see how Fermanagh’s Garry Jennings will perform in his right hand drive Ford Fiesta R5, he finished sixth in last weekend’s Trackrod Rally Yorkshire.
The pair set a fastest time on the final stage of the Cork 20 and they will be seeking to take that type of form to Donegal.
Donegal’s Declan Boyle (VW Polo GTi R5) and Joe McGonigle (Ford Fiesta Rally2) and former triple national rally champion Monaghan’s Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) complete the top 10.
The WRC’s of Seamus Leonard (Ford Focus) and Aaron McLaughlin (Ford Fiesta) and the Ford Fiesta R5 of Welshman Steve Wood are next off the start line. Wood, a popular driver, will have West Cork’s Eamonn Hayes calling the notes.
Daniel Cronin and his Killarney co-driver Shane Buckley slot in at number sixteen, it will be Cronin’s first time to compete in a rally in Donegal. “Having looked at the DVD, the stages are very different to what we have here in County Cork. The terrain seems very bumpy."
Cronin finished fifth in the 20 (after the results were changed some 24 hours after they were originally signed off by the stewards) and a similar result in Donegal would be to his liking, he should benefit from his outing two weeks ago.
One interesting entry is that of former Billy Coleman Award winner Daniel McKenna (Ford Escort), he hasn’t competed since he drove a Toyota GT86 on the Fastnet Rally in 2015, it’s even longer since he drove a Mk. 2 Ford Escort – 2014, on the Donegal International Rally.
Blackpool co-driver Liam Brennan competes with Gary McElhinney (Ford Escort).
The event is the second of six rally events before the end of the season and there are drivers representing twenty-five different counties. However, it’s not surprising that some 43 percent of the entry is from County Donegal. The opening stage, Ogherbeg, begins shortly after 10am.
Meanwhile, Rally Finland, round ten of the World Rally Championship, begins today (Friday). Waterford’s Craig Breen and his Killarney co-driver compete with the Hyundai outfit with Breen reckoning the event provides one of his best opportunities for his maiden WR event win.