Donegal 5

Andy and Max get air on their way to second in class (FOKUS Photographic)

              On the 15th to the 17th of June Ireland sees possibly one of its largest and most eagerly awaited rallies on the calendar take place, the Donegal International rally, organised by Donegal Motor club. It’s a hotly contested rally that often attracts the biggest names from all over Ireland and further afield to Letterkenny to compete on the event. The rally launch took place on the Friday evening before competition began on Saturday and carried on through Sunday giving competitors twenty stages totalling some 180 miles of competition.


                In amongst a very strong entry was Andy Davies who had decided to go out to Ireland for the first time after hearing many good things about the rallies out there and after having had many people encouraging him to do so decided that the Donegal would be an excellent first choice rally. His vehicle of choice would be IDZ, his road rally specification (non-turbocharged) Subaru Impreza, which had been freshly prepared for this outing, still retaining a road rally specification but only this time had been treated to an extra special livery, in the same colours as Andrew Nesbitt’s previous WRC Subaru Impreza. Max Freeman was to be navigating for him as they had done many events together in the past and Max has excellent experience on stage rallies as well as road rallies. They would be competing in class 20, for modified four-wheel drive cars and had entered in the national rally. They were seeded at 67.

Donegal 3

                Before competition began first there was a 3-day recce over the stages for pace notes to be made up, which would contain information on all of the bends and straights as well as hazards in the roads such as off camber corners, humps, dips and crests that make up a rally stage. Once these were completed and scrutineering had taken place where there was a last-minute rush to make sure the car was fully up to FIA specifications before leaving the car in parc ferme ready for the event.

                On the opening day of the rally Andy and Max took it steady, making sure not to take any risks and simply get though the stages to make sure they reached the finish to gain experience. After the first four stages there were lying in seventy fourth overall. The first couple of stages were damp but soon conditions improved, unfortunately IDZ was on wet weather tyres which they were stuck with for the remainder of the day which cost them a little time when the stages began to dry, but they carried on and continued to enjoy themselves which by the end of the first day saw them sitting fifth in class, great going for a road rally specification car in amongst very tough competition.

Donegal 2

                On the second day of the rally Andy tried using slick tyres on IDZ, which really suited the dry tarmac. As well as this he and Max both decided to really press on and stepped up the pace. This saw them step up to third in class and fifty-sixth overall. However, on the following stage they were struck with driveshaft failure, this gave them a stage maximum on the stage but fortunately the rally was not over as they managed to change the broken shaft for a new one and re-join the rally on the following stage. Even with this slight issue they were still very much enjoying the rally and were happy with the times they had been setting.

                For the final day of the rally they decided to really push and see just how well they could climb up the leader board in a road rally specification car. They really pushed on the stages and found themselves once again up to third in class, before once again on stage 19 a drive shaft broke on the car, but this time they were carrying a spare on board, which they decided to change in the stage. This gave them a maximum again for the stage but meant they were able to continue the rally. On the final stage of the event they made a last push to try and regain some time, which must have worked as they went and took second in class! Also managing sixty-third overall, an excellent result for him and Max in amongst some incredibly tough competition. Andy was more than happy to have come away with a trophy after going out to compete on a rally for fun and to simply get some experience on Irish tarmac. It is probably fair to say Andy is not hooked on Irish tarmac rallies and it probably won’t be too long before he ventures over to battle the locals out there once again

                Thanks must go to Fergal O’Keeffe of FOKUS photography for the use of his images for this report.