Eugene Donnelly is aiming for more than a first win in Saturday’s Orchard Motorsport Lurgan Park Rally.
He’s aiming to raise awareness and funds for the Children’s Heartbeat Trust, a charity linked to Belfast’s Hospital for Sick Children.
A lack of sponsorship funding has sidelined Donnelly (inset) since he won his record-equalling fifth Irish Tarmac championship last October. But he has seized the chance to help the children’s charity with a one-off appearance in the Lurgan Park showpiece.
“I’m lucky enough to be a patron of the Children’s Heartbeat Trust which provides amazing support for sick children and their parents and I felt the Lurgan Park Rally was a perfect opportunity to highlight the work that is does,” he explained.
“With the help of some friends and long-time supporters like Andrew Mullen of Sligo Pallets and Derek McGeehan of McGeehan Motorsport we’ve been able to resurrect the Toyota Corolla in which I won three of my Tarmac championships.
“I haven’t driven it in almost four years and in fact I haven’t driven anything in anger since Cork last October so I’m bound to be a bit rusty on Saturday.
“But I’m looking forward to getting back in the car again and it is all for a good cause. You never know I might make it into the top five!”
He is likely to be a lot higher than that but despite being second in the all-time list of Irish international winners, Donnelly has never topped the podium at Lurgan Park.
“It is a tricky place and I’ve never quite mastered it — not like Kenny McKinstry. At least I made him work for it last year and I’ll be happy if I can do the same this time.”
The first of the eight stages through the park lanes is scheduled for 10.30am.