With just over seven weeks to go to the opening round of the 2016 Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, the Corrib Oil Galway International Rally, there is a lot of anticipation among the competitors with several of them having stated their intention to be in Galway with a view to taking part in the series. With the R5 / S2000 class the primary category eligible to score points towards the overall championship for next year, it has been a busy few weeks for the drivers as decisions on what car to drive for next year are being made.
One of the top talents on these islands, Keith Cronin, has a deal almost finalised to contest the championship in a Citroen DS3 R5. The Ballylickey driver hasn’t competed in Ireland on a regular basis for a number of years, but on the few occasions he has done so, he has been spectacularly quick and would be one of the favourites to take the title back to Cork for the first time since Billy Coleman in 1984. Another Citroen DS3 R5 that looks to be heading for Galway is that of Jonny Greer who featured well on the early rounds of the 2015 series, while other drivers making the switch to Citroen for next year cannot be ruled out.
There are a number of drivers committed to using a Fiesta R5 and plan to be in Galway, such as Stephen Wright who plans to upgrade his car to the latest spec, and Paraic Duffy has similar plans for his Fiesta while Brendan Cumiskey is making the switch from a Group N Mitsubishi to a Fiesta R5. The Moffett brothers have not yet decided on a marque for 2016 but have confirmed they will be in Galway, while the McHale association with the Tarmac Championship is set to continue as Aaron has purchased a Skoda S2000 with a full championship assault in mind and backing from Supermacs and Great Gas. Paul Rowley and Joe McGonigle are two others that will be out in Skoda S2000’s for next year while John Mulholland has also purchased a similar car which will be run by Philip Case who currently has four cars to prepare for 2016.
Desi Henry is also planning to be in Galway and is currently working on a deal to move to an R5 car having sold his S2000 Skoda. Robert Barrable who had such a strong run in the Circuit of Ireland in 2015 is believed to be in the process of purchasing and intends to be in Galway while Joe Connolly in the Red Mills R5 Fiesta is also expected to commit to the championship. There are a number of other Irish drivers still working on deals which would see them contest the series and begin their campaign in Galway.
There are several interested parties from the UK, two of which are John Indri (Fiesta R5) and Damian Cole (Fiesta S2000) with several more working behind the scenes to finalise their plans for the coming season. The smaller R2 and R3 classes are also attracting much interest and should provide some fascinating battles for the coming season.