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irish tarmac rally championship

Lloyd Takes Inaugural Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup Victory

  • Ioan Lloyd and Sion Williams take victory at the first round of the new Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup IRE & UK, taking home €3,000
  • Irish tarmac Rally Championship qualifier, the West Cork Rally provides big test for the crews
  • Battles rage on during the weekend for top spot

Ioan Lloyd and Sion Williams became the first ever winners in the  Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup IRE & UK after a supremely challenging West Cork Rally last weekend [March 15-17].

Lloyd powered his Peugeot 208 Rally4 to a 27.4-second victory over closest rivals Cian Caldwell/Liam Egan. Michael Fitzgibbon/Carrie Ryan claimed the final podium place, albeit nearly eight minutes further back.

Promoted by Race & Rally, the all-new one-make championship for both Peugeot 208 and Opel Corsa Rally4 machines allows drivers to compete for a staggering €75,000 prize fund across eight epic events in Ireland and the UK.

A cash pot of €6,000 is available to the first five crews home on each event, with the winner collecting €3,000, sliding down to €500 for fourth place. The fifth placed driver receives one Michelin Motorsport tyre from distributors Protyre Motorsport Ireland. Plus, the Junior champion at the end of the season will receive registration to the 2025 FIA Junior European Rally Championship, entry fees to six rounds of the Junior ERC and 12 tyres per round contested in the series, worth almost €40,000.

With such an amazing prize package on offer, 12 of Ireland and the UK's finest drivers signed up for the series and waded into battle on the Clonakilty-based West Cork Rally.

Reigning Probite British Rally Championship vice-champion, Kyle McBride and new co-driver Darragh Mullen, drew first blood in their Peugeot with fastest time by an impressive 6.2 seconds on the opening test, and the Irishmen kept up their rhythm to hold a slender advantage over Caldwell/Egan at the of Friday's first leg.

The weather would change dramatically on Saturday as the heavens opened, but McBride expertly weathered the storm to increase his lead north of 45s after SS7 of 18. However it would all go wrong for the 20-year-old on the next stage as he touched a bank and burst the water pipe on his Peugeot. With any further progress risking damage to the engine, McBride sensibly elected to retire.

McBride's demise opened the door for Egan, who gratefully received the gift of first place. But the teenager had 2023 Irish Tarmac RC4 champion Lloyd looming large in his mirrors; the Welsh ace setting a stunning time on SS8 to carve 13.9s out of everyone.

That meant Lloyd was just 3.8s off Caldwell's lead as the crews returned to service, and he wouldn't waste any time poaching the top spot. Quickest on the first pass of the legendary Ring test, Lloyd leapfrogged Caldwell - and although his Irish rival would keep him honest on the final leg as the sunshine returned to Cork, Lloyd wouldn't relinquish the lead as he recorded an important opening round victory that moved him to the head of the early championship standings.

"I'm absolutely delighted to take the win here in West Cork, it was some race with Cian to be fair," said Lloyd.

"It was a very tricky weekend in some demanding conditions. We struggled to get into a rhythm on Friday, but we managed to get settled back into a nice groove on Saturday and Sunday.

"A huge congratulations to Raymond Moore and everyone involved in creating this fantastic new series."

Caldwell was similarly pleased with second: "We're delighted with that," the 19-year-old admitted. "It was a very tricky weekend with all the rain yesterday, but happy to come away with second here. Massive thanks to the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy for all their help getting us here and preparing us for the season."

Third was a superb result for Fitzgibbon who was making just his second ever start in Rally4 machinery. He beat Casey Jay Coleman/Lorcan Moore by almost a minute with John O'Rourke/William Nolan - the only one of the 11 crews to use the Opel Corsa - completing the top five and securing themselves a Michelin tyre in the process. Thanks to the unrivalled prize package, Cian took home €1,750, Fitzgibbon €750 and Coleman €500.

Despite retiring on Saturday's third stage, Keelan Grogan/Ayrton Sherlock were the only other finishers on what was a gruelling event and in making the finish, grabbed a free Michelin Motorsport tyre. Scottish crew Robert Proudlock/Steven Brown were first to fall on SS7 as they were caught out in the treacherous conditions. Making a similar mistake to erstwhile leader McBride, the Scottish Junior champion aquaplaned into a soft bank and lost oil pressure from his engine, retiring out of fifth place.

Joseph Kelly meanwhile was forced out due to an allergic reaction to a banana he had eaten on Saturday morning. Under the advice of Motorsport Ireland's medical team, the 20-year-old and co-driver Killian McArdle withdrew from competition before the reaction wore off.

Kalum Graffin/Richard Crozier were caught out on the final morning while, cruelly, Niall O'Sullivan/Frank Byrnes retired on the very last stage. They had been chasing Fitzgibbon/Ryan for third, starting the test only 7.1s behind.

The next round of the Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup IRE & UK takes the crews over to the UK for their first gravel event, the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages Rally, on April 13.

External Credits:

Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup IRE & UK/Images - D Harrigan


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