LAST year’s winner Daniel Cronin headlines Sunday’s Westlodge Hotel Fastnet Rally in Bantry, where the entry includes former four-time winner Midleton’s Daragh O’Riordan.
Cronin, who will campaign the Ford Fiesta R5 that he drove to victory in the recent Clare Rally, is hopeful of back-to-back wins.
‘It will be tough and depends on whether Daragh will be rusty,’ he says.
‘He has won the event four times and this time the stages are similar to those of a few years ago. He goes well but it will be tight.’
O’Riordan will have his first outing in his Fiesta since its been changed to right hand drive.
He hasn’t competed since he crashed last year’s Cavan Rally, how he adapts to the switch could be the key to his performance.
Cavan’s Stephen McCann (Ford Fiesta S2000) who crashed out of the recent Cork “20” will renew his rivalry with Cronin.
Stephen Wright in a hired Group N Subaru will certainly just concentrate on ensuring his co-driver Karl Atkinson gets the necessary championship points to land the top co-drivers award.
The top ten also features Killarney’s Ed Murphy (Ford Escort), Bandon’s Vincent McSweeney (Honda Civic), Dunmanway’s Jason McSweeney (Mitsubishi EvoIX) and Donegal’s Stuart Darcy in the ex-Ian Barrett Darrian T90.
Fifth in last year’s rally, Bandon’s Vincent McSweeney, now in a two-litre engined Honda Civic, is certainly capable of a higher finish this time around. while Jason McSweeney will be hoping for reliability through the eight stages.
Another driver hoping to secure a high finish is Midleton’s Colin Byrne (Ford Escort).
Opting to hire a Ford Escort, Clonakilty’s Cal McCarthy can certainly improve on his eighth-place finish last year while Youghal’s Jason Ryan (Honda Civic) and Rosscarbery’s Jason O’Mahony (Escort) – both top ten finishers last year – will have designs on event better results on Sunday.
Other local entries include Dunmanway’s Conor McCarthy (Mitsubishi EvoIX), Baltimore’s Stephen Carey (Ford Fiesta R2), who is seeded at 35 and Kealkill’s Jer Flynn (Ford Escort).