Rally rookie Kelly makes his mark.
In his debut year in Rallysport, Peter Kelly concluded a very busy season by making his mark in a number of Championships around the country. The Kiltimagh based Motor Technician secured Class wins in both the Four Seasons Border Rally Championship and the Top Part West Coast Series and just lost out on National Class 16 honours in the Dunlop Championship by a mere one point.
Eventhough it was Peter's 'Rookie Year' as a driver, his consistency throughout, with twelve Top 3 finishes out of fourteen events would make his idol former World Rally Champion, Colin McRea, green with envy! With five Class 16 wins, four second placings, three third positions and just two non-finishes, not many first timers can boast that kind of success rate.
"I have had a fantastic year by any standard," stated a delighted Peter as his season came to an end recently at the Fastnet Rally in Skibbereen. "I would like to thank everyone who helped me during the season, especially the business people of Kiltimagh and Mayo & District Motorsport Club."
Peter's interest in rallying began while in his early teens. After his first spin in a rally car, all he wanted to do from then on was to drive like Colin McRae. For many years, Peter burned the midnight oil preparing rallying cars for fellow Club members in the quest that one day he would run his own rally car. That dream became a reality late last year when he acquired a 1600cc standard production Toyota Corolla GTi. Over the winter, Peter worked tirelessly preparing the car for its first event, the Mayo Single Stage Rally on January 13th.
Peter takes up the story, "It is the event I will remember most as it was my first time out and also for navigator John Higgins. We really did not know what to expect as I had to learn about the car's capabilities and John had to get in on the pace notes. We were both very nervous and the fact that there were 17 crews out in Class 16 we knew it was going to be very competitive. All we wanted was a good finish! Thankfully, we made no mistakes on the first run through the stage and recorded a good time on the second, despite a spin, which cost us 10 seconds. On the third run we caught two cars and dropped more time getting past. However, John and I ended up 54th overall and 3rd in Class. It was truly a great debut event for us and a great kick-start to our rallying year."
Peter pays tribute to his co-drivers Michael Laffey, Noel Staid, Steve McGuinness, Brian Kelly, Eamonn Walsh and John Higgins, who not only 'called the notes' but also assisted in preparing the Toyota Corolla between events. For his efforts, John won the Co-Drivers prize in Class 16 in the Border Series and will travel to Monaghan with Peter to collect their well-deserved awards.
"My success this season just would not be possible without the assistance of a number of businesses in Kiltimagh, namely Paul Creighton at CECO Balers and Recycling Equipment; Paul Cleary at clearynissan.com & Cleary Motor Factors and also Michael Griffin at N17 Nite Club," expressed Peter.
Peter Kelly Rallysport also received support during the year from Burke & Coyne Oil; West-a-Wake Eggs; Joyce's Bar; Connaught Coatings; Nally Stand Bar; Gilmartins Catering Supplies; Next Door Off Licence; Finn Footwear and Jim's Bar.
Peter would dearly love to continue rallying next year and move up to a higher Class, but alas this may not happen according to Peter. "This year's success has not hit me yet and possibility won't until I'm standing near a ditch spectating next year. In reality, the expense is just too much for me. All in all, I have had a marvelous year much better than expected and the successes will keep me going for many years to come.
"Hopefully, some day a come-back will be on the cards!"