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Back again: Craig Breen is relishing West Cork return

Back again: Craig Breen is relishing West Cork return

Back again: Craig Breen is relishing West Cork return

Donagh Kelly will head to West Cork this weekend, to a rally he has won five times in the past, buoyed up by Sunday's victory in the opening round of the Irish National Championship in Mayo.

But he will face a very different field in Clonakilty on Saturday than when he dominated in West Cork between 2014 and 2018, winning five times in a row.

The rally was then not part of the British Championship, which it is now, and the 2020 version brings together a stellar line-up headed by Craig Breen.

The reigning Irish Tarmac champion, who won in West Cork last year, is focusing on the European Championship this season, plus, he hopes, more selected appearances with Hyundai in the World Championship.

But the Waterford driver admits he "couldn't resist" the opportunity to return for what is effectively a home rally.

He tops a packed entry list which includes two-time British champion Matt Edwards and Alastair Fisher, leader of the Irish series following his victory in Galway last month, as well as the likes of Tom Cave, former Ulster Rally winner Osian Pryce, Rhys Yates and past Tarmac champions Sam and Josh Moffett.

Fisher was on board a VW Polo when he won his first round in Galway but is listed to switch back to a Ford Fiesta this weekend, the same as Edwards, while Breen will have the latest version of Hyundai's i20 R5.

In Hyundais, too, are Cave, the two Moffetts and Desi Henry as they go up against the Polos of Pryce, Meirion Evans, a returning Robert Barrable, British Junior champion Josh McErlean and, of course, Kelly.

Former Northern Ireland champion Jonny Greer is down to debut the long-awaited R5 Citroen C3 and Ollie Mellors brings the improving Proton Iriz to the party. Fiestas are no longer the dominant car in the R5 list but they still have a strong presence for, as well as Edwards and Fisher, they will be handled by a group including Yates, Irish forestry champion Cathan McCourt, Owen Murphy, Daniel Cronin and Joe McGonigle.

William Creighton, a winner in Wales, leads the British Junior contenders in his R2 Fiesta ahead of an Irish contingent including David Kelly, Brian Brady and Eamonn Kelly, son of Donagh Kelly.

Top of the West Cork entry list: 1 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai i20 R5); 2 Matt Edwards/Darren Garrod (Ford Fiesta R5); 3 Alistair Fisher/Gordon Noble (Ford Fiesta R5); 4 Tom Cave/Dale Furniss (Hyundai i20 R5); 5 Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley (VW Polo GTI R5); 6 Sam Moffett/James O Reilly (Hyundai i20 R5); 7 Osian Pryce/Noel O Sullivan (VW Polo GTI R5); 8 Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Hyundai i20 R5); 9 Desi Henry/Stuart Loudon (Hyundai i20 R5); 10 Robert Barrable/Liam Moynihan (VW Polo GTI R5); 11 Rhys Yates/James Morgan (Ford Fiesta R5); 12 Meirion Evans/Jonathon Jackson (VW Polo GTI R5); 14 Oliver Mellors/Max Freeman (Proton Iriz R5); 15 Owen Murphy/Anthony Nestor (Ford Fiesta R5); 16 Cathan McCourt/Barry NcNulty (Ford Fiesta R5); 17 Daniel Cronin/Shane Buckley (Ford Fiesta R5); 18 Jonathan Greer/Kirsty Riddick (Citroen C3 R5); 19 David Guest/Jonathan McGrath (Ford Fiesta R5); 20 Joseph McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney (Ford Fiesta R5).

Belfast Telegraph