Eugene Donnelly: I jumped at the chance to make Donegal return
Eugene Donnelly, the record-equalling five-time Irish Tarmac champion, is heading back to the rally stages for next month's Joule Donegal International.
Donnelly, a three-time Donegal winner, has been absent for the past 18 months but will return for one of his favourite events where he will drive a McGeehan Motorsport WRC Mini in a line-up which contains all the leading Irish drivers - bar Kris Meeke and Craig Breen of course.
However, Breen's name did appear on the provisional entry list in a WRC Citroen but the Circuit of Ireland winner has since tweeted: "Sorry it won't be happening due to other commitments." He will instead be preparing for his second appearance with the World championship Citroen team in Poland.
But the Donegal line-up is outstanding and for the first time since 2009 includes Donnelly, second only to Bertie Fisher in the all-time list of Irish Tarmac championship winners.
"The entry is shaping up magnificently and I wanted to be part of it," said Donnelly. "It's quite a few years since I've competed in Donegal and I haven't done any rallying in more than a year so I've no high expectations. I jumped at the opportunity."
Donnelly's enthusiasm was fired up again when he played a leading part in securing the backing from Lakeland Tyres which enabled Breen to compete on - and win - the Circuit of Ireland last month.
He is the company's group manager and they will be supporting his return in Donegal where he will face the likes of last year's winner Garry Jennings, Declan Boyle and reigning Tarmac champion Donagh Kelly.
Alastair Fisher, leader of this year's Tarmac series, Keith Cronin, the Moffett brothers Sam and Josh, Stephen Wright and Jonny Greer are all included in the top 20 of a capacity entry list. Competing, too, will be motorbike ace and North West 200 winner Michael Dunlop, who is in a Ford Escort.