Belfast Telegraph

Irish aces take different routes in their bid for glory

By Sammy Hamill

Irish rallying goes in two different directions this weekend, emphasising the split between the old and the new.

Established names like former Tarmac champions Garry Jennings, Declan Boyle and Derek McGarrity are bound for Mayo and the start of the Triton Showers Irish National championship.

Another group that is seen by some as the next generation, led by Keith Cronin, the Moffett brothers and Desi Henry, are heading for Wales to begin their challenge for a revitalised British championship.

Jennings and co have elected to stay with the WRC-specification cars which have dominated Irish events for decades even though it means they can't become Tarmac champions again or compete in the BRC series.

However, it has provided a boost for the National championship where their Subarus and Fords will continue to rule. A dozen will be in the Mayo line-up on Sunday with Galway International winner Jennings set to renew his fierce rivalry with Boyle.

The decision to put the focus on the newer, and some say cheaper, R5-class cars has divided opinion and split competitors with the mainly younger group embracing the change.

Many are combining the two championships, which will also include the European status Circuit of Ireland next month, and they kick off their BRC campaigns on Saturday on the Mid Wales Rally where the entry list is headed by Elfyn Evans.

Stepping down from the World championship to lead a new DMACK Ford team, Evans is the clear favourite, especially in his home forests, but the Irish hold a strong hand in the likes of Cronin, a three-time British champion, Sam and Josh Moffett, Henry, Marty McCormack, Stephen Wright, Jonny Greer and a returning Robert Woodside.

With increased television coverage on Channel 4, BT Sport and Eurosport, the R5 brigade are stealing the limelight but the WRC cars still have committed fans as the Mayo turnout shows.

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