Following a memorable year on rally stage and race track in 2011, Kumho has started the new motorsport season with a pair of strong placings on the Safety Direct Galway International Rally (February 5). Kumho stalwart and five-times Irish Tarmac Champion Eugene Donnelly brought his new Mini WRC home in a fighting second place, while another regular Kumho runner, Garry Jennings, won the Group N category and finished an excellent fourth overall in his Mitsubishi Evo 9.
This was the first outing for Donnelly’s Kumho-shod, Colm Quinn-backed Mini and the first time anybody has campaigned the model in Ireland. Expectations were therefore running high and Donnelly didn’t disappoint, finishing a scant 1.3 seconds behind the winning Subaru Impreza WRC of Darren Gass, following a late charge that produced a string of stunning stage times. All being well, Donnelly will contest all rounds of the 2012 Irish Tarmac Championship, and few would bet against him being in serious contention for a record sixth title.
Said Kumho’s European Motorsport Manager Steve Thompson: “It is great to renew our acquaintanceship with Eugene and no surprise to find he was immediately competitive with his new mount. New models can be just as much of a challenge for tyre manufacturers as the drivers, and it was rewarding to see our tarmac tyres providing the Mini with the performance it required. We look forward to an exciting season.”
The next round of the Irish Tarmac Championship is The Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland rally on April 7/8.
Jennings also victorious on Donegal Forest Stages Rally
Prior to his Galway Rally success, current Group N Irish Tarmac Champion Garry Jennings had achieved outright victory on the Donegal Forest Stages event (January 28), in a Kumho-shod Group A Subaru Impreza. He led the event from start to finish and was fastest over nine of the 10 stages. The next round of the Valvoline 2012 Irish Forest Rally Championship is the Carrick-on-Suir event on March 3.