David Kelly, Laura McMenamin (Championship Co-Ordinator) and Kenny Bustard at the finish ramp in Bantry
David Kelly and Kenny Bustard from Donegal Town made the long trip to Bantry, Co. Cork for the Fastnet Stages Rally 2019. It was the final round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, a championship that covers the entire country throughout the course of the year.
Kelly had to win the Junior section of the event outright and hope that fellow competitor Colin Roche would finish more than three places behind him to allow Kelly to secure championship honours and a nomination for the prestigious Billy Coleman award.
On the first stage, Mizen Head, Kelly trailed by 3.6 seconds but was confident with the car and the ability to push on. David said: "After the first stage we knew the pace was there, Kenny and I made the decision to push as hard as we could for the next two stages."
This they did by taking 18 seconds out of nearest rival Colin O Donoghue and led by 14 seconds at the midday service.
With two stages remaining Kelly and Bustard headed out to the final loop with victory in sight. Unfortunately Colin O Donoghue pulled out due to a time penalty which left Kelly with a comfortable lead for the rally win but not enough to secure the required championship points.
At the finish David was delighted with the result. "It was a tough year, we had some big battles. I would like to thank my navigator Kenny Bustard for doing a super job keeping me on the road all year. He might be old but he can still keep the pressure on me! Also without our local sponsors none of this would be possible. I would like to thank Glebe Builders, Donegal Hardware, Gortlee Tool Hire, Britton Tarmac and Sweeney Scaffolding for all their support. The team of guys running the car have also been outstanding this year, Cornelius MacHugh, Dani MacHugh, Ryan Hegoat and Rory Gallagher. Without all these people none of this would be possible"
Next year David is hoping to compete in selected rounds of the Junior British Rally Championship of which there is a prise fund of 120,000 GBP. The first round of this series kicks off in Wales in early February 2020 with a round in West Cork and in Belgium in June. For now Kelly and Bustard will take a month to plan for the 2020 season.