Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Michael Dunlop sparks rally bow

Rallying call: Michael Dunlop is to race in Donegal International
Rallying call: Michael Dunlop is to race in Donegal International

TT hero Michael Dunlop is to switch from two wheels to four to make his rally debut in next week's Donegal International.

Fresh from his victories at the North West 200 and on the Isle of Man, Dunlop will drive a Ford Escort on the three-day Irish Tarmac championship round starting in Letterkenny next Friday.

The idea of Dunlop taking part in the rally was first mooted at the SPARKS charity dinner in Belfast last year, where he met up with reigning Irish champion and 2012 Donegal International winner Garry Jennings.

"It started off as a bit of banter, but Michael fancied the idea and now it is going to happen," said Jennings.

"He has little experience of rallying, but he is a very competitive guy and judging by the way he rides a motorbike he has the skills and appreciation of speed to do well. He will be worth watching."

Dunlop will use the Mk2 Escort of Scot Calum Duffy and is to be slotted into the 150-strong Donegal entry list at No.57.

Meanwhile a historic Jaguar, which has been in action year-after-year since the 1950s, will be among the star attractions when it makes its European debut at the Cultra hillclimb on Saturday.

The XKC-030 was built for the 1953 Sebring 12-Hour Race where it finished fourth, driven by Bob Gegen and Harry Gray and it would go on to establish one of the longest known continuous competition histories of any car.

Two years ago it was purchased by a European collector who intends it to be driven as often as necessary to maintain that incredible record and to that end David Brazell is giving the car its first competitive outing on this side of the Atlantic at Cultra which is believed to be the oldest speed event of its kind still active.

It is staged in the grounds of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, where it was first held in 1905. The entry list includes leading hillclimb exponents Seamus Morris and Robert McGimpsey, as well as former Miss Northern Ireland Tiffany Brien who will drive an MG Midget.

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