There's a stiff, cold breeze in the air and a thick blanket of cloud hangs low over one of the most beautiful areas of nature reserve in the country. Molls Gap, a thin ribbon of tarmac between Killarney and Kenmare lies silent, the stage for one of most spectacular shows in the Irish motorsport calender.
Suddenly, at about 8AM the murky, damp air is pierced by an overwhelming burst of turbo clatter, flame and rev-limiter. Two beams of light stretch out across the road and a flash of day-glo orange, white and blue hurtles into the first few kilometres of the gap.
For those of a certain age, this might be a somewhat accurate description of different December morning, 30 years ago, in 1992. And you wouldn't be far wrong as the brightly coloured Ford Sierra that left the start-line of Molls Gap in the hands of Frank Meagher that day was the very same car that hurtled through the picturesque valley at this years rally.
Meticulously restored over two years to incredible detail, the Sierra was undoubtedly the star of the show, almost trumping the presence of its driver and owner, Craig Breen. The 3-door Cosworth wasn't the only Sierra in attendance either because right behind it was Jonny Greers ex-works 4WD Sapphire. The two men traded blows all morning, swapping stage times with just a handle of seconds going each way.
After six stages, Breen and Greer headed for the time-control at the start of the final Molls Gap sprint in an unbelievable dead-heat. Nothing seperated the two Sierras, the victory would be decided on the fastest man up the tricky stretch of tarmac in front of them. Breen slammed the famous 3-door into gear to heat the tyres and recieved an almighty bang. Prop-shaft gone.
Sickened, Breen and co-driver Paul Nagles fairytale thirty year reunion with an Irish rallying super-star had ended.
Greer took the win in stylish fashion and tamed the seven stages of this years Killarney Historic Rally. Further back, a whole army of Ford Escorts did battle and eventually placed Cathan McCourt as the fastest man in a RS1800. Everything about this years rally was box office and that's probably what has this event gaining more and more traction each year.
Seeing the re-birth of these Group A machines, as more and more become eligible, is extremely exciting and there is absolutely no way I'll be missing that 4AM alarm clock call next year.
Event: Killarney Historic Rally 2022