Kesh, County Fermanagh, is the place to be on Saturday evening as ultimate rally experiences, collectables, and future memorabilia go up for auction.
Several star names have clubbed together in support of the event which aims to raise funds for Jon Armstrong and Brian Hoy’s final World Rally Championship push.
The all-Fermanagh crew is tied at the top of the Junior WRC standings with one crucial round in Greece left to go.
Armstrong and Hoy defied the odds in February when their last-minute entry to Junior WRC’s season-opening Rally Sweden resulted in a surprise victory on snow. Funding a sustained effort on the global stage has remained a big challenge and the rallying community looks set to step in to raise the final sum required to complete their season.
2013 Irish Tarmac Rally Champion Garry Jennings will host a fundraiser on Saturday at his pub, the Mayfly, with several rally friends chipping in to create an auction list of dreams for rally fans across the UK and Ireland.
Co-drivers Barry McNulty and Rory Kennedy have also seen the significance of Armstrong’s fundraiser, offering their support to plan an event for Fermanagh’s Junior WRC contenders.
Items up for auction include the chance to co-drive for Garry Jennings, Declan Boyle, and Cathan McCourt on next year’s May Day Stages Rally in Enniskillen. If you can’t wait until then, why not sit alongside 15-time World Rally winner Mikko Hirvonen in a Ford Escort Mk2 Wexford Stages Rally pre-event test?
If you fancy something a bit more continental, Craig Breen has offered up Paul Nagle’s seat for one of his pre-event WRC tests with M-Sport in the thunderous Ford Puma Rally1. Now there is an experience of a lifetime!
WRC merchandise signed by the best rally drivers in the world, including current championship leader Kalle Rovanpera, is also set to be auctioned off on Saturday evening.
An Ulster Rally helicopter ride, a luxury hotel stay, and a VIP M-Sport factory tour are up for grabs too in a brimming catalogue that can be viewed below:
Fundraising Auction Catalogue
The fundraiser will kick off at 19:00 on Saturday 13 August with a selection of rally cars on display at the Mayfly. Several motorsport icons have been rumoured to pay a visit including Road Racing legend, Michael Dunlop; plus rally drivers Niall McShea and Alastair Fisher who rivalled Sebastien Loeb and Elfyn Evans in JWRC campaigns gone by.
Perhaps the biggest attraction will be the auctioneer, Irish Tarmac hero and all-around character Andrew Nesbitt.
The line–up of names, list of auction items, and backing of their rally competitor peers is a statement in itself of the support Armstrong and Hoy will have at home when they go for a world title in Greece next month.
Junior WRC’s prize package is unequalled in world rallying. A Ford Fiesta Rally2 or fully-funded WRC 3 drives are offered, giving the champions a much-needed step towards WRC’s top level.
The reality, however, is that the cost to complete a year in Junior WRC requires huge financial backing. While several sponsors and supporters have got Armstrong through four of Junior WRC’s five rounds, the Rally3 ace is relying on the fundraiser to round out his budget.
Armstrong is no stranger to playing underdog, having competed in Junior WRC without pre-event tests for the past two years. The dream scenario for the 27-year-old is that he’ll be able to broker a deal to test in Greece ahead of Junior WRC’s decisive round – a test that would put him on par with his rivals before an event for the first time this season.
From talking to those involved, the theme has been “it’s now or never.” When you really think about it, the immense support shown to make the fundraiser possible becomes less surprising, equally creditable, and unbelievably important.
Whether you are paying Kesh and the Mayfly a visit or eyeing up the prizes from afar – make sure to check out all the details and, if you can, support our best chance at bringing a world rallying title home since Craig Breen’s WRC Academy and Super 2000 successes 10 years ago.
— Link to event information on Facebook —
Photos courtesy of Junior WRC