MANUS KELLY can’t wait to get into the heat of the rally battle again next weekend at the Martin Howley Memorial Bayview Hotel Harvest Stages Rally.
Almost four months since he popped the champagne at the Mount Errigal Hotel after realising a boyhood dream when he won the Donegal International Rally after a dramatic event.
He had just 0.5 seconds to spare on Keith Cronin after the last of the 20 stages, Fanad Head and now the Melvyn Evans-hired Impreza is ready for the Donegal tarmac again.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Kelly told Donegal Sport Hub at the launch of the Martin Howley Memorial Bayview Hotel Harvest Stages Rally last night.[adrotate group=”59″]
“I’m sure there’ll be class stages up here. Martin Howley was a great man in the club.
“Donegal was a dream come true. It’s savage memories, but it moves on and we’re in the heat of battle again.
“It was the ultimate prize. It was like the All-Ireland to Michael Murphy and Neil Gallagher. I love rallying and love competing.[adrotate group=”38″]
“It’s something I love. That’s why I’m still here and I’ll keep it going for another while yet.”
Kelly will have a new companion in the cockpit this time with Gareth Doherty set to call the notes around the stages in Killybegs, Kilcar and Glencolmcille following the retirement of Donall Barrett.
Doherty has had success alongside Kelly previously, when they won the 1600 class at the Donegal International Rally in Kelly’s early days.[adrotate group=”37″]
It was with Barrett calling the notes that Kelly has had his greatest hours, though and the Milford man’s departure is the end of an era – for now.
Kelly said: “We had a long friendship and bond. It’s a decision I respect.
“It was evident from the in-car footage how important Donall was. If I’d started Fanad Head without him, I may as well have stayed on the start line. That’s why it’s hard to take.”[adrotate group=”46″]
Listen to the full interview below …