A County Armagh man who will compete in the Donegal Rally this weekend has shared his journey through the ranks of Irish racing.
Tassagh man Ronan Comerford spoke to him Armag I about his journey into the world of motorsport and how he got to where he is today.
Ronan is one of twelve representatives of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, set up to develop the skills and raise the profile of young aspiring Irish drivers. Those eligible to attend the academy will be selected from among the nominees for Billy Coleman’s Young Rally Driver of the Year Award and the elite co-driver program.
He says it is a “great privilege” to have this opportunity.
“For the past few years joining the academy has always been on the wish list and so applications started last November and I jumped at the chance.
“After a successful application, I was invited to a selection day where I met the judges and took various tests so they could check and see if I was suitable to continue.
“A few weeks later, I received an email that I had succeeded and become an Elite Academy co-driver.”
Ronan has a strong racing heritage in his family. He says he has been going to events since he was very young 3/4 years old. His father was also a passenger for over fifteen years, which sparked his interest in navigation.
“I would go out with him and learn about pacenotes and timing,” he says.
“I am now at the stage where I have progressed from rookie to amateur as I am recognized within the academy as an elite co-driver.
“My goal is to drive at the highest level, the World Rally Championship (WRC). I believe this can be achieved with the help and support of the entire Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy team and family and friends.”
After an outage on the rally scene due to COVID-19, Ronan returned to his full form. “It’s bigger and better this year,” he says.
“I started in Galway and West Cork, then the first three rounds of the Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship followed in Mayo, Birr and Monaghan.
“Third in class was the result for Mayo and Monaghan, but unfortunately a puncture at Birr set us back.
“My last event was Limerick, Circuit of Munster where I finished 1st in class with new driver Joe Kelly and it was the perfect end to a warm up event for the Donegal International this weekend.
“My plan for the rest of the year is to finish the national championship in class 12 where I am currently third in class after five events and also the Irish Tarmac Championship.”
He’s got his sights set on Donegal this weekend. The Donegal International Rally 2022 takes place from 17th to 19th June and is expected to attract thousands to its three day event.
“Donegal is the ultimate bucket list three day event. This is my first year attending the event and as it is the 50th year of running the event it is in some ways special to be able to say I was there.
“Three days of rallying & twenty stages on some of Ireland’s most beautiful and classic stages complete the June weekend. The feeling is good to approach with a positive attitude and accept the challenge. We will give everything.”
Finally, Ronan adds: “I want to thank everyone who has supported me to get this far. I would also like to thank the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy team, the Davy Nutrition team and Alan Heary for their support and dedication in getting me to the top.
“Without them all it wouldn’t be possible.”