Declan Boyle is excited to tackle a fresh challenge
On Sunday, Declan Boyle became the first home winner of the Donegal International in more than a decade – but he won't be resting his laurels for long. He's heading back into action this weekend in the Orchard Motorsport Lurgan Park Rally.
It will be Irish national champion Boyle's first appearance in a made-for-spectators event, which couldn't be more different from the tough three days he spent in the Donegal hills.
Confined within the town centre park, it features eight sprint stages through the trees and around the park lanes.
It will be all new to the in-form Boyle, who has three Tarmac championship victories under his belt this year as well as a brace of national rally wins. However, he is looking forward to the different challenge the park presents.
"I've been there as a spectator a few times and always wanted to have a a crack at it, so here goes," he said as the line-up was announced at Craigavon Civic Centre last night.
Boyle slots into the starting list at No.2 behind last year's winner and reigning Tarmac champion Garry Jennings and ahead of the 'King of the Park', 11-times winner Kenny McKinstry, all three in WRC Subarus. Derek McGarrity interrupts the Impreza sequence with his Prodrive Mini at No.4.
Another Subaru driver, Kevin Barrett from Co Kildare, and Ballinamallard's Jonny Leonard – in a Mitsubishi – make up the top half dozen of the 50 invited crews.
Lining up too will be the WRC Mini of Derek McGeehan and the Subarus of Emma McKinstry and Dungannon's Paddy McVeigh, currently leading the Irish national series.
A big part of the event is the Mk2 Escort Challenge, which features the iconic Fords fish-tailing their way through the park.
They are seeded together further down the field and the drivers include Wesley Patterson, Frank Kelly, Martin Teggart, Adrian Hetherington and Donegal man Eugene Ferry.
Last night's launch was attended by the Mayor of Craigavon, Councillor Colin McCusker, who confirmed the Council's continuing support for the rally which has been taking place in the park since 1980.
Over the years, the organising North Armagh Club have held the admission price down to £10, but because of extra expenditure on equipment to ensure the continued safety of spectators – over £15,000 – the cost has had to rise to £15, but children are admitted free.
The first competitor will cross the start ramp at 10.15am on Saturday morning, with virtually non-stop action through until 5pm.
Top of the entry list: 1 Garry Jennings/Michael Moran (Subaru Impreza), 2 Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Subaru Impreza), 3 Kenny McKinstry/Noel Orr (Subaru Impreza), 4 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Mini WRC), 5 Kevin Barrett/Sean Mullally (Subaru Impreza), 6 Jonny Leonard/Geraldine Leonard (Mitsubishi Lancer), 7 Derek McGeehan/Laurie Smyth (Mini WRC), 8 Emma McKinstry/John Woods (Subaru Impreza), 9 Paddy McVeigh/Martin McCann (Subaru Impreza), 10 James Gillen/Sarah Whelan (Subaru Impreza).