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Less than a week after the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing i20 R5 of Donnelly Motorsport was in action at the Rally of the Lakes in Killarney, it will be once again seen on the stages but this time with a new pilot behind the wheel.

Five-time Irish Tarmac Champion Eugene Donnelly took the new machine to seventh overall at the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship qualifier last weekend, but on Saturday 26 year old Philip Allen will be handed the keys and will contest the Cookstown based “GO” Tour of the Sperrins Rally.

The latest generation i20 R5 has endured a busy few weeks thanks to being used by multiple British Champion Keith Cronin at the opening round of the season in Kielder forest, before being returned to asphalt spec by the Philip Case Rally Sport squad for Donnelly the very next week. It will now be used in anger by the rapid youngster in round 2 of the McGrady Insurance MSA ANICC Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship.

Philip, son of the late former Northern Ireland champion Glenn, will tackle only his sixth ever rally in the Hyundai but his previous results already prove that the family genes have resonated through. On his debut in the sport at the Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages last year, Philip won his class at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Evo IX.

With Donnelly co-driving, Philip secured his first ever win at the St Angelo Stages Rally in a Mini WRC last year on only his third ever event.

This weekend he will be joined by Martin Connolly and the duo will head to the event with Donnelly’s support on the closed road event which offers six stages and 34 miles of competitive driving.

Philip lines up at number nine seed in an entry packed with World Rally Cars and ultra-experienced crews. But Donnelly doesn’t think it will faze him in the slightest and believes he may throw up a few surprises over the weekend.

“I’ve had first-hand experience of just how well Philip can handle a car and I’ve no doubt that he will adapt really quickly to the Hyundai on Saturday” he says.

“It’s a good rally to learn the i20 on as its fairly short and I don’t want to put any pressure on the guy but I know what he is capable of and he will make the Hyundai work really well for him. It’s a quality entry and it’s not going to be all about results, more the experience and if he surprises a few people then so be it.

I’m lucky to be able to offer him the Hyundai for the event and I have to say thanks to PCRS for turning the car around so quickly. I`ll be flying back from Italy on Friday to keep an eye on proceedings and I`m looking forward to seeing how he gets on”.

Philip Allen brings support from GA Auto Repairs.
Donnelly Motorsport is supported by Divers Hyundai, Sligo Pallets, PPP Group, Midland Tyre Services, McPartland Group, Philp Case Rally Sport, CBM Signs and the CFM Group.

Image credit Cian Don photography

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