Belfast Telegraph

Out of luck Donnelly hungry to put on a fast show

By Sammy Hamill

Desperately disappointed to have missed the Circuit of Ireland, and the chance to contest his home round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, Mark Donnelly is eager to get back into action on the Pirelli International this weekend.

The Tyrone driver won the opening round of the British Championship after a fierce duel with Finn Jarkko Nikara but then crashed heavily while challenging for the lead on round two.

His Dutch-run Renault Clio suffered heavy frontal damage and couldn’t be repaired in time for the Circuit of Ireland at Easter.

It has only now been re-built and Donnelly will have little time to try it out ahead of the rally start in Carlisle tomorrow evening.

“The car has just been finished off in Holland this week and the only chance I will get to drive it before the start is on the official shakedown stage this afternoon,” said 21-year-old Donnelly.

“The accident on the Bulldog Rally was a setback, and it was disappointing to miss the Circuit of Ireland, but I’m ready to go again and looking forward to getting back into the Kielder forests.”

Donnelly is one of six Irish drivers in the Pirelli line-up which is headed by Keith Cronin, the Cork driver who won back to back British titles in 2009 and ’10.

He sat out all of last season but finished second on round two after a last-minute decision to join up with the DGM team from Carryduff, appearing alongside Jonny Greer in a pair of DS3 Citroens.

Cronin starts at No.1 ahead of Donnelly with Desi Henry (Citroen) at six, Greer at eight, Alastair Fisher (Ford Fiesta) at 12 and Matthew Cathcart (Ford Fiesta) at 17.

Fisher is again using a BRC event to stay ‘match fit’ ahead of the Acropolis Rally, round two of the World Championship Academy next month. He won the first round in Portugal.

Young Welshman Tom Cave leads the British Championship following his home win on the Bulldog Rally.

Belfast Telegraph

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