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‘I thought people had forgotten about me!’ quips Lyre’s Tim O’Donovan ahead of West Cork Rally comeback

March 15th, 2024 10:00 AM

By Martin Walsh

‘I thought people had forgotten about me!’ quips Lyre’s Tim O’Donovan ahead of West Cork Rally comeback Image
Lyre’s Tim O’Donovan pictured with his Toyota Corolla at Jason O’Mahony’s Rally Preparation outlet in Bohonagh, Rosscarbery. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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‘I THOUGHT people had forgotten about me,’ quipped Lyre’s Tim O’Donovan, who makes a return to rallying after a 17-year sojourn. Ironically, his last event was also the West Cork Rally. 

To move the conversation out of first gear, there was a mild introduction to test his memory.  

‘So how did you do last time?’  

The retort was quick, punctuated by a pause to underline his quick wit. 

‘Second … in class, not overall!’ he replied.

Back then, O’Donovan was certainly no slouch through the lanes of West Cork, Wexford or Limerick or a few other locations. Class wins in his yellow Toyota Corolla were a regular occurrence. With the same Toyota in storage since then, a return was only a question of when? The catalyst? 

‘I don't know. I just got a mad fit. Look, every West Cork Rally I've gone to in the last few years, the youngsters were kind of saying “bring out the car, bring out the car”. I’ve promised them over the last four or five years, then I got a mad strain at the end of November,’ he explained.

The wheels were in motion. 

‘I suppose we started ripping at the start of December and fixing up at the beginning of January and it's here (Jerry O’Mahony’s workshop in Bohonagh) with a month. To be honest, the lads have some job made of it,’ O’Donovan said.

With a number of co-drivers down through the years, the task of calling the pacenotes this weekend rests with Rossmore’s Vinnie Bennett. They will compete in Class 11R.

‘It’s a fairly competitive class, but we're only just going for the craic,’ he smiled. 

The car doesn’t have power steering, to which he quipped: ‘That will knock the taspy off me.’ 

Plans are also afoot to compete in the Circuit of Munster next June and the Cork ‘20’ in September, events he has performed well in the past.

As he reflects and gets a little bit serious, he is appreciative of everyone that has helped on this particular journey.

‘This return is all thanks to everyone that dug in. Without them, we wouldn't be here. From the lads at home, herself, everyone. Yeah, there have been people even on the phone, they were a big help, they all know who they are.’

So, with the car ready, there are the other items like the racing suit and fireproof underwear. 

‘The suit is still in date; whether it fits or not, I don't know, I didn't try it yet! I bought a new helmet and stuff though,’ O’Donovan added.

The level of preparation is high and is evident given the fresh look of the Toyota Corolla.

Friday night’s pair of stages in the dark won’t be a problem. 

‘Actually, when I drove in the Lighthouse Single Stage in Wexford, we had only two spotlights, but I enjoyed it,’ O’Donovan said, and added, ‘I nearly need spotlights now during the day, because I'm getting old!’ 

Ahead of the rally, there was time for some final reflection.

‘Look, I thought people would have forgotten about this yoke (car) and me. But the whole place is talking about it; it’s funny really. Look, there's a bit of pressure on because of everyone that's involved.’

Pressure? Sure that’s for tyres, not Tim.

Sponsors: West Cork 4x4 Breakers; Keohane Readymix; Ellis Agri; Fisher’s Bar; S&D McCarthy Agri.


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