Three time rally winner Eugene Donnelly has secured a last minute deal to contest next weekend’s Toddsleap Ulster Rally in a Kenny McKinstry Subaru Impreza S14 WRC. The five times Irish champion has taken an enforced sabbatical from the sport since his MayDay Rally Sprint Stages victory earlier this year, but returns to the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship qualifier with regular co-driver Paul Kiely alongside. Supported by Lakeland Tyres, Donnelly will aim to better his hat trick of wins on the event in which centres around the rally base of Enniskillen and offers crews over 120 miles of competitive action over two action packed days.
Sporadic outings this year have hampered the local driver’s championship hopes but on the rare outings he has contested, Donnelly has showed that he has lost none of his raw pace and is sure to be a crowd pleaser on this year’s Ulster Rally. Having not competed since May will surely be a disadvantage over the super-quick Irish Tarmac pilots, but Donnelly is confident that it won’t take long to get back into the groove. “Of course it been a while since I sat in a rally car competitively, but I can’t keep away from the stages for too long.” he says. “It’s fantastic to be in the McKinstry Motorsport Subaru S14 WRC too and it will be interesting to see how it performs. I have a lot of respect for the rally and our sponsors Lakeland Tyres have a fantastic depot there so it will be great to representing the brand on their home event. They have also sponsored the super-special spectator stage at St Angelo airfield so I`ll be sure to put on a great show for the crowds and sponsors there!”
The Maghera man has been mostly been seen in the McGeehan Motorsport MINI WRC this year, but the Subaru is a familiar sight to Donnelly and he is relishing the opportunity to contest some of the best roads in Northern Ireland. “There is always a great turn out on the rally and I think spectators will be in for a treat”he says. “We will be trying as hard as ever but the guys at the head of the field will be tough to beat. I have to say a huge thank you to Lakeland Tyres for their support and welcome Jinyu Tyres to the team. Thank you also of course to Protune, PPP Group and local company Nixons Car Breakers for their continued backing.”
The 15-16th August event is the seventh round of the 2014 Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally -Championship and offers over 120 competitive stage miles, spread across Western Northern Ireland. Based at the St Angelo Airfield in Enniskillen, the event kicks on Friday afternoon and continues into the evening. An early start follows on Saturday morning where the remaining stages will decide the victor of the event who will return to Enniskillen town centre to spray the champagne at the finish podium.