Former FIA World Academy winner 2011 and SWRC 2012 champion, Craig Breen is using the second round of the Dunlop Irish National Rally Championship on Sunday as a high-speed test session, ahead of the European Rally Championship-counting Circuit of Ireland Rally, two weeks later, in the brand new Peugeot 208 T16.
While Breen’s entry is a one off, the main focus of the nine-stage rally will concentrate on the battle for supremacy in the Dunlop National and Top Part West Coast series.
Last year’s Dunlop champion and current series leader Declan Boyle has already committed to the Tralee-based rally in his Subaru Impreza. He could be joined by the 2010 Irish National champion Melvyn Evans. The Welshman has placed an entry for the rally but his Subaru Impreza broke a drive shaft on the opening stage of the recent West Cork Rally and his appearance in Tralee depends on the on-time arrival of the replacement parts.
Hugh Hunter is another Welshman committed to both series, he won the opening Top Part West Coast Round in February but failed to make the finish of the Mayo Rally in early March.
Nevertheless the Subaru driver will bring plenty of form to Kerry, he is the 2006 British Trials and Rally Drivers champion and the past winner of several Irish events including last August’s Galway Summer Rally.
London-based Cork man, Mick O’Brien is also on the entry list in his Ford Focus WRC. He is the current Irish Forestry Rally champion and has won rallies on both sides of the Irish Sea. Former Irish Tarmac Rally champion and two-time Rally of the Lakes winner Daragh O’Riordan will surely give the national boys a run for their money as will current National Group N champion Sam Moffett. Both of these drivers have entered the event in their Ford Fiesta World Rally Cars.