Donagh Kelly returns in bid to regain his Irish crown
Having contented himself with a handful of appearances last season, Donagh Kelly launches his bid to regain the Irish National rally title this weekend on the Nenagh-based Birr Stages.
Kelly swept all before him in 2015, winning the national series as well as the premier Irish Tarmac Championship in his WRC Ford Focus.
But he took a break last year, picking and choosing his favourite events - where he was usually successful again.
The Birr Rally was among them, Kelly winning for a second year in a row. And it is where he will start a season in which his aim is to regain the Triton Showers national title.
"The plan is to compete on the whole series but I have to say I'm a bit apprehensive. It's been a while since I was last in the Focus - the Donegal International back in June," he said.
Kelly heads a strong line-up on Sunday which includes the man who succeeded him as champion, Roy White, in his WRC Ford Fiesta as well as former king Declan Boyle.
The Birr wild card could be Sam Moffett, whose main target is the Tarmac Championship in which he is currently second in his R5 Fiesta. For Birr, he switches to the WRC Fiesta in which he has chalked up numerous wins.
Omagh's Mark Donnelly is another joining the series in a WRC Fiesta but Peadar Hurson, a former national champion who made his Fiesta debut in the first round of the Northern Ireland Championship at Kirkistown earlier in the month, misses out because of business commitments.
Hurson intends to be back for the second round, the Midland Rally, next month when Donegal International winner Manus Kelly will also enter the fray.