| 6.2°C Belfast

No half measures for Declan Boyle


Drive to succeed: Declan Boyle wants to win a third National title and a second Tarmac championship

Drive to succeed: Declan Boyle wants to win a third National title and a second Tarmac championship

Drive to succeed: Declan Boyle wants to win a third National title and a second Tarmac championship

As a man who oversees a chain of more than 60 pubs, Declan Boyle knows all about doubles and triples.

Away from his frenetic travel schedule, Donegal businessman Boyle has become one of the most prolifically successful rally drivers in the country, winning the premier Irish Tarmac title last year to sit alongside victories in the National championship in 2013 and 2014.

Now he and co-driver cousin Brian want to do it all over again, aiming for a treble of National titles and a Tarmac championship double.

Boyle starts his campaign with the Galway International this weekend where his Subaru Impreza S12 will line up at No.1 ahead of the similar car of 2013 Tarmac champion Garry Jennings and the Ford Focus of Donagh Kelly.

It was in Galway 12 months ago that Boyle kick-started a season which saw him score eight wins from 12 events to secure his Tarmac/National double.

But it might have been different if Jennings' Subaru hadn't aqua-planed into a Galway field when they were separated by just a second or if the Fermanagh driver had not crashed out of the lead on the final stage of the Circuit of Ireland.

It tells you how tightly matched these friendly rivals are and there is every sign they will go head-to-head again through the course of a season which sees the West Cork Rally in March added to the Tarmac schedule - a non-championship event last year which was won, incidentally, by Kelly.

And fellow Donegal driver Kelly also led the Rally of the Lakes in Killarney until he, too, crashed. The winner will most likely come from one of this trio but Galway is always unpredictable, the winter weather traditionally having a hand in the outcome.

The forecast suggests it will be icy which could suit the less powerful but more nimble new generation of 1600cc WRC cars - like the M-Sport Ford Fiestas of the Moffett brothers, Sam and Josh, or the Prodrive Mini of Eugene Donnelly, a five-time Tarmac champion.

Elder of the two Moffetts, Sam, already has two Tarmac wins to his credit while production champion Josh is joining him in the Fiesta ranks for the first time.

Meanwhile, Donnelly, the second most successful driver of all-time in the series behind the late Bertie Fisher, has four Galway wins on his CV but he has crashed on his last two appearances in the Mini as he battled to keep up with the Subarus. An icy weekend in the west might prove a more level playing field.

The 100-plus line-up, which includes the first appearance of a new R5-class Citroen DS3 in the hands of Jonny Greer, will leave Galway on Saturday (10am) for a 14-stage event mainly around Gort. It finishes on Sunday evening.

Top of the entry list: 1 Declan Boyle (Subaru Impreza), 2 Garry Jennings (Subaru Impreza), 3 Eugene Donnelly (Mini), 4 Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus), 5 Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta), 6 Dean Raftery (Mini), 7 Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta), 8 Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet), 9 Steve Simpson (Subaru Impreza), 10 Jonny Greer (Citroen DS3).

Belfast Telegraph