Belfast Telegraph

Portglenone driver takes swipe at British chiefs after opting for Irish bid

By Sammy Hamill

It is all change for Desi Henry — from Skoda to Ford and from the British to the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.

Henry is one of a number of Irish drivers who have turned their backs on the British series, deciding it has become too expensive, and instead will concentrate on Ireland’s major Championship.

“I think they (the BRC organisers) have gone in the wrong direction and have taken the Championship out of the reach of the working man,” explained Portglenone building contractor Henry, a regular front runner in the series in recent years.

“The Ypres Rally in Belgium and the Manx Rally take up a lot of time and a lot of money and then to also throw in Wales Rally GB, an expensive World Championship round in which the BRC will be lost, doesn’t make sense to me.

“In the past we had the Circuit of Ireland and the Ulster Rally as part of the BRC and with a couple of rounds in Scotland it was all convenient and affordable. Now we only have the Ulster International and these other time-consuming rallies.

“For me it was a no-brainer to opt for the Tarmac Championship which is shaping up to be very competitive and I’m looking forward to it.”

And he’s looking forward as well to getting to grips with an R5 Ford Fiesta for the first time after campaigning Skoda Fabias for the past couple of seasons.

“My Skoda from last year has been sold and a new-spec one has been ordered but it won’t be ready until around May so we decided to go for a Fiesta in the meantime,” he said.

Henry had a short test run in the ex-Rhys Yates car at the weekend but will put it through its paces in earnest on the Mayo Rally next Sunday before heading for the start of the Tarmac series at Clonakilty in West Cork the following weekend.

“The Fiesta is pretty much the latest specification from M-Sport and I have to say it felt very good on the short test run but I’ll probably know a lot more after Mayo,” he added.

Henry, the 2016 Irish forestry champion, is part of a strong entry for the Mayo event which is the opening round of the Triton Showers Irish National Championship and sees the series move to Achill Island out on the west coast for the first time.

The list is headed by the WRC Mini of Derry’s Joe McGonigle, a driver who has past experience of Achill’s roads having won there last year when it was not part of the Championship.

Lining up behind him will be reigning national champion Roy White and a trio of former Tarmac champions, Donagh Kelly, Declan Boyle and Garry Jennings, all in WRC cars. They are among a group of leading drivers who have not embraced the switch to the R5 category which now headlines the premier Tarmac series.

Josh Moffett, brother of the 2017 champion Sam and another driver preparing to launch his own Tarmac challenge in West Cork, is the leading R5 runner in Mayo at No.6 with Henry at seven.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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