Donegal Rally 2013 – The Donegal International Rally is an annual sporting event held in County Donegal, Ireland. Organised by the Donegal Motor club it is one of Ireland’s oldest annual rally competitions and is a top event in the Irish Rallying calendar. It has a reputation for being one of the country’s most challenging rallies. The event begins and concludes in Letterkenny.
The Donegal International Rally is one of Ireland’s oldest annual rally competitions. The event is now the only remaining three day rally in the country and a key part of the Citroen Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. The event began in 1972 with Cahal Curley the first winner. The 2012 Rally featured a stage around the town of Buncrana, the first town stage since 1982. The rally attracts approximately 50,000 spectators each year and is estimated to be worth over €25 million to the Donegal region.
In May 2008 Topaz, announced its sponsorship of the Donegal International Rally in a 3 year deal that will secure the future of this long established competition. Topaz will invest almost a quarter of a million euro in sponsoring and supporting the event over the 3 years.
Previous winners of the Donegal International Rally include Cathal Curley, Billy Coleman, Bertie Fisher, Ari Vatanen, David Llewellin, Andrew Nesbitt and Eugene Donnelly. Gareth McHale has emulated his father Austin by winning the event twice. Local Donegal winners have included Vincent Bonner and James Cullen.
Back in the early 1970’s the Donegal Motor Club, organised and promoted an event, called the Circuit of Donegal International Rally. In those early days the rally covered the whole county. The event has produced classic stage names such as Atlantic Drive, Kindrum and Fanad Head in the North, Glen, Derrylaghy, Muckish and Cashelnagor in the North West; Dungloe Lake, Doochary and Treantagh in the West; and Gweebarra, Rosbeg and Lough Eske in the South.
The event was a round of the European Rally Championship during the mid 1970’s and boasts some of the greats of Irish, British and the World rallying stage, as it’s past winners. In 1975 Achim Warmbold won in a BMW. Ari Vatanen came to Donegal in 1978 with the famous X-Pac Ford Escort MkII (reg: UYY 256S), which was dubbed “Black Beauty” and prepared by David Sutton. Vatanen won the rally with Ronnie McCartney second in his Escort RS 1800 and Mick O’Connell third in another Escort. John Lyons won Group 1 in an Escort after another one of his heroic performances.
Sebastien Loeb proved that he was a quick learner, when he powered home in the 2007 rally. The World champion blazed his way to one of the most impressive wins ever witnessed in Irish rallying. In 2006 Toni Kelly became the youngest ever female participant in the Donegal International Rally. Kelly was 17 at the time of the event.
Bertie Fisher-Atlantic Drive,Donegal International Rally 1999