World Rally Stars to defend Rentokil Initial Killarney Historic Rally
Breen and Nagle enter Killarney in ex-Meagher Ford Sierra
Craig Breen has coaxed Paul Nagle out of retirement for next month’s Rentokil Initial Killarney Historic Rally.
The Aghadoe man made the announcement at the rally’s official launch at the Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney on Sunday.
Nagle announced his retirement from the World Rally Championship in October.
He was in Japan this week to complete the handover to Breen’s new co-driver James Fulton and returned to Ireland on Sunday just in time for the launch.
The 2021 event winners will drive the Ford Sierra Cosworth that Frank Meagher drove to victory on the 1992 Circuit of Ireland Rally.
The late Tipperary driver was Breen’s childhood rally hero and he recently completed a full restoration of the Sierra. The Killarney will be the car’s first appearance since the restoration.
“We are looking forward to going out for a big battle with some local drivers, “said Nagle.
Killarney and District Motor Club confirmed at the launch that it had received 230 entries for the 150 available spaces.
Sunday’s launch was attended by several dignitaries including TD Danny Healy Rae and Niall Kelleher who is the mayor of the Killarney Municipal District and president of the Chamber of Tourism and Commerce.
“This event is a great advertisement for Killarney, the exposure it gives and the much-needed business at a quieter time of the year – to this visiting our town please do enjoy yourselves,” said Mr Kelleher.
Healy-Rae echoed those words
He said: “This is a great event for the town of Killarney, coming at the dead end of the year, and it gives great exposure for the County of Kerry.”
Club char Dan Keane welcomed the politicians’ support for the rally.
“It is hugely important that elected officials recognise the importance of motorsport in Ireland,” he said.
Garda Gary Carroll of the Kerry Roads Policing Division was there to impress a road safety message to the large group of rally fans who attended the event.
“Keep the race in the place,” he said. “This is a wonderful event and adds to the town of Killarney and County Kerry.”
Clerk of course Anthony O’Connor outlined details of the route and some innovations for this year’s rally.
“Our plans are at an advanced stage to create a motorsport festival on the streets of Killarney town, the two-day festival event will begin with a ceremonial start in the town centre on Friday evening at 7 pm on December 2,” he said. “
“Saturday morning starts with the iconic Molls Gap, followed by the mountainous Bealaghbeama Pass and the fast-flowing Kilgobnet stage, then into service at Liebherr Container Cranes. This loop of Moll’s Gap, Bealaghbeama Pass and Kilgobnet is repeated and into service again, before heading out to take on the challenge of Moll’s Gap for the third time.”
Alan Ring leads the very strong Kerry entry in his Subaru Legacy RS. He and co-driver Adrian Deasy finished second overall last year.
Fergus O’Meara will have British Championship runner-up Mikie Glavin in the hot seat in his Ford Escort.
Todd Falvey is also competing in a Ford Escort and all three local drivers are in contention for the historic award in the Kingdom of Kerry Rally Championship.
Atlanta-based Donegal man Seamus Burke makes a welcome return to Killarney driving a Ford Escort.
Californian Joe Whyte is a regular visitor to Kerry rallies in his Mini Cooper.
Welshman Sebastien Ling won the historic section of the recent Kerry Winter Rally, and he will make his Killarney debut in the same Ford Escort.
Leading Welsh driver is long-time visitor Gareth Lloyd who returns in the same BMW M3 E30 that drove to a top ten finish last year
Donagh Kelly and Rory Kennedy were fourth overall in Killarney last year and they return in the same BMW M3 E30.
Monaghan’s Michael Carbin makes his first foray into historic rallying. He finished fifth in the recent Banna Beach Resort Kerry Winter Rally in a Mitsubishi Lancer, but he will drive a Ford Escort RS1800 in Killarney in just under three weeks.
Racing driver Michael Cullen will compete in a BMW M3 E30. His co-driver Sean Hasset is better known for the behind-the-scenes social media work he does for Craig Breen on the World Rally Championship.
Breen’s father Ray returns with a similar Legacy to Ring’s version.
Although predominantly a historic rally, the modified section is always keenly fought and popular with spectators.
Among the leading entries, so far, in this competition is Kevin Eves from Donegal who finished second in this category last season and returns in the same Toyota Corolla.
Leading locals in this category include Connor and Mark Murphy in an Escort and a Starlet. Colin O’Donoghue will return to rallying for the first time since the Rally of the Lakes in May.
Ray O’Neill, Denis Hickey, Sean Enright (Ford Escorts) and PJ O’Dowd (Talbot Sunbeam) are all potential class winners.