Kelly eyes Tyrone test ahead of Easter Rally
Triple Donegal International Rally winner Manus Kelly will make a rare appearance on this side of the border when he takes part in next week's Maiden City Stages, the third round of the Northern Ireland Championship.
Kelly will use the Strabane-based event to build up mileage in his R5 Hyundai ahead of the Easter Stages, the next round of the premier Irish Tarmac Championship starting on April 19.
The Donegal driver has won his home international for the past three years in a Melvyn Evans Subaru Impreza but, with the WRC car no longer available, he has switched to a Philip Case Hyundai i20.
However, the change has not gone quite so smoothly in the first two rounds of the Tarmac series, Kelly finishing 12th on his debut in Galway and retiring after just two stages when racing in West Cork.
Kelly and former British Junior champion Callum Devine are among a number of drivers who will join the McGrady Insurance NI Championship regulars for the April 6 event in preparation for the Easter Stages which this year is centred on the Antrim/Lisburn areas.
Run by the Ulster Automobile Club and sponsored by Waste Water Solutions, it will be based at the Chimney Corner Hotel near Glengormley, with the main service area located within the Ulster Grand Prix paddock at Dundrod.
Entries close this weekend and are expected to include Kelly and Devine, along with all the main Tarmac contenders such as Craig Breen, Alastair Fisher, the Moffett brothers, Sam and Josh, Declan Boyle, Donagh Kelly, Desi Henry and Jonny Greer.
Meanwhile, Breen's ex-Citroen WRC team-mate Kris Meeke, now driving for Toyota, was fastest in the shakedown test ahead of last night's ceremonial start to the Tour de Corse.
Meeke set fastest times on all three runs over the test stage, finishing just under a second quicker than the Citroen of reigning world champion Sebastien Ogier.
Ott Tanak, Meeke's team-mate and leader of the series this year, was third quickest.