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Clonakilty driver Daragh O’Donovan relishing three-day challenge in West Cork Rally 

March 15th, 2024 11:15 AM

By Martin Walsh

Clonakilty driver Daragh O’Donovan relishing three-day challenge in West Cork Rally  Image
Darragh O’Donovan is looking forward to the stages at Ring and Dunworley.

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REIGNING Irish Tarmac Junior Rally champion Daragh O’Donovan is relishing the prospect of competing in the main event this year at this year’s Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally as opposed to the Junior category. 

‘It’s a very different challenge. Junior events are more of a sprint. This weekend I will probably do as much rallying in the three days as I did in all of last year. I will probably be able to enjoy it a bit more,’ Clonakilty driver O’Donovan said.

Class 11F is one of the most competitive. 

‘At the top end, there's five or six, I couldn't pick one over the other. If I’m able to plug away and keep my car reliable, the plan is to play it smart and try and get to the finish,’ he said. 

O’Donovan has earmarked his local stages Ring and Dunworley: ‘I would like to get through Friday night and push on during Saturday morning ahead of the home stages, where I should be able to increase the pace.’ 

Without the constraints of the Junior category, O’Donovan is looking for more from his Honda Civic this time. 

‘We’ve got a four-branch manifold, throttle bodies and have replaced the bushings. So, there’s a bit more power and a bit more torque, and hopefully it will handle better.’

While he still plans to sell the car after the rally, he’s not likely to get sucked into the Rally4 class given the cost factor. Seeded at No. 92, O’Donovan will have a new co-driver this weekend with Donegal’s Sean Marsh calling the pacenotes.  ‘Michael (White, his former co-driver) and myself agreed to part company, I think it will benefit both of us. Although Sean is only 20 years old, he’s a good few events under his belt including the Central European Rally round of the WRC in 2023.’ Last year and also in 2022, Marsh competed in the West Cork Rally.


There was a time when historic rallying was something at the tail end of the sport, of interest to its participants and some die-hard aficionados. However, in recent years its popularity has surged. So too has its pace.  

This weekend Welsh driver Neil Williams and his Ardfield co-driver Anthony O’Sullivan are the top seeds in their Ford Escort RS1800. A native of Grenagh, O’Sullivan didn’t need to move to West Cork before he was interested in the Clonakilty-based event.  

‘I always liked the West Cork, it was and still is a great adventure,’ he commented.  

The pair won the Irish Tarmac Historic series in 2022. O’Sullivan outlined his plans for the year ahead. 

‘I think it’s the championship everyone wants to win. Neil is going to do three, maybe four rounds. That might be enough, but I will co-drive for Meirion Evans on the Donegal International and the Ulster Rally and will team up with Neil again for the Cork ‘20’. As for the Circuit of Ireland, we will see after this weekend, but it will be a busy year,’ O’Sullivan said.

On the format of this year’s West Cork, he added: ‘I’m a fan of the night stages, it's different and a very positive thing that the club has done.’  

In terms of the opposition, O’Sullivan said: ‘I think Meirion Evans is going to be very hard to beat, Tomas Davies will also be quick, there are others too like John O’Donnell in the BMW M3.’  

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