Belfast Telegraph

Donnelly in fight to make Circuit

By Sammy Hamill

Mark Donnelly faces a race against time as intense as any rally stage if he is to make the start of the Circuit of Ireland next week.

Winner of the opening round of this year’s British championship, the 21-year-old Omagh driver crashed out of second place on round two — the Bulldog Rally — in Wales at the weekend.

His R3 Renault Clio suffered severe frontal damage after he spun off the forest track at the flying finish line, the car clipping a post and hitting a tree head on.

Donnelly and co-driver Dai Roberts were unhurt but the impact smashed in the front of the Clio.

It has now been shipped back to Holland by the Dutch team which prepares and runs the car.

“It is being stripped down as we speak,” said Donnelly.

“But we won’t know for a day or two yet if it can be repaired in time.

“The car took quite a hit and we won’t know the full extent of the damage until they get everything off it.

“It is certainly going to be tight but I really want to do the Circuit, my home round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, and they have promised to do everything they can to get the car fixed in time.

“We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Donnelly learned afterwards that the place where he crashed on the Dyfi stage is a notorious trouble spot.

“I was just a little too quick over the finish line and the car got away from me,” he said.

“A lot of people sympathised with me afterwards, saying it is well-known black spot among Welsh competitors.

“I didn’t know that at the time — but I do now!”

The Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland rally starts from Belfast City Hall on Good Friday afternoon.

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