JOSEPH MCGONIGLE has the cobwebs blown off and ready for this weekend’s Corrib Oil Galway International Rally.
The Muff driver was third in Saturday’s Donegal Mini Stages Rally, finishing just 0.4 seconds behind runner-up Ryan Loughran.
With trusted co-pilot Ciaran Geaney from Falcarragh on the notes, it was a sound way to begin what is expected to be a busy year in the S2000 Skoda.
“I’m looking forward to Galway now that the cobwebs are blown off,” McGonigle says.
In the Irish Tarmac Championship, he wa second overall and was first in the R5 class. At the Dogleap Stages in Derry back in August, he took his first outright rally win.
At the Shackelton Complex in Ballykelly, McGonigle edged the battle from Alan McGeehan by virtue of the fact that he had posted more fastest stage times, his three to McGeehan’s two.
To add to their fantastic year, Geaney won the navigator’s championship in 2015.
McGonigle says: “2015 was a great year for us. Other than the Harvest the car never let us down once – hopefully it’s the same again this year.”
He was on his way to finishing second in the Donegal Harvest Rally, but the Skoda broke down on the second-last stage.
His class this year is staged with the R5 men making a testing year ahead.
McGonigle says: “The Championship has guys like Keith Cronin and Alastair Fisher, who are both world class. You have Josh and Sam Moffett, who have won plenty of rallies, in there too. Staying with them boys won’t be easy.
“Competition is going to be great this year. There are 14 crews in our class in Galway. It’s going to be a great Championship.”
McGonigle was runner-up at the 2011 British Citroen Trophy and has been rising since.
On Saturday, he had a relatively trouble free day in icy conditions.
He says: “It was slippery around there, but it was a good test run before Galway. We got through, just about, with no marks. I kind of threw it away with two overshoots, but it was a grand run.”