Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett celebrate their Donegal International Rally success in 2016.
Last year’s Joule Donegal International rally winning crew are coming together once again to defend their title in next month’s Donegal International.
Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett, only the second ever all-Donegal crew to win the Donegal International, are back to try and do what no Donegal crew has done before - win back-to-back Donegal Internationals.
And to achieve that Milford native and Dublin based businessman Donall Barrett has come out of retirement.
This was confirmed by Manus Kelly at the weekend as he finally brought an end to much speculation and rumour in rallying circles in recent weeks that the pair were about to join forces once again.
“I’ve known for a few weeks that he was going to join me once again,” Manus told the DPP/Democrat.
“Donall is a very low profile fella and he doesn’t like the spotlight so we tried to keep it quiet for as long as we could.”
Donall Barrett retired after last year’s sensational win by the popular Donegal crew.
“He probably did retire a little prematurely after last year’s rally,” Kelly said.
“I think the temptation to come back and successfully defend was too great and it spurred him on to come out of retirement and give it one good go again.”
Kelly and Barrett won last year’s Joule Donegal International Rally in dramatic fashion.
Driving a Subaru WRC car they had just a half a second to spare over the second placed Cork/Kerry combination of Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin, in a Citreon DS3R5.
“His return is by mutual consent. It wasn’t a case of me persuading him or anything like that. It just happened and it seemed the most natural thing in the world to do.
“We have the same car and have a good team behind us so we decided,why not give it a go and try and successfully defend the rally.”
Manus has completed less than a handful of rallies since last June’s historic win. Gareth Doherty has been his navigator for those events.
“Myself and Gareth have done well together. We have completed two rallies this year so far. We came second in the Harvest Rally and our last rally was in Longford a few weeks ago and we came third.”
Manus and Gareth are planning to compete in the Munster Rally next weekend.
“Donall won’t be with me next weekend. Gareth will be alongside me once again as I get the road miles in ahead of Donegal.
“Donall is only back for Donegal and our attempt to defend the title. His total focus now is on Donegal and getting ready for Donegal.
“I know from talking to him he is focussed and looking forward to Donegal and the both of us are just mad for tar.”
The Joule Donegal Rally is on the weekend of June 16th, 17th and 18th June.