It’s 5AM and a thick blanket of darkness is firmly down over Kilgarven, a sleepy heritage village deep in the south west of Ireland. The man behind the counter of the 24hr fuel station is looking at me as if I’ve ten heads, wondering what on earth I’m doing up at this hour and to be honest, I don’t blame him either, I’m struggling to stay awake, fumbling with my wallet to pay for the coffee and sausage sandwich I’ve just ordered.
Fuel station guy would quickly receive an answer to his question as over the next hour the tiny forecourts were jammed full of burbling group A homologation special road car. Something like this must be a bizarre sight to the average Joe Soap. Over thirty odd-ball cars ticking over at dog hour in the morning mist, their owners standing around talking pure nonsense about their common interest, giddy with excitement for a morning in the mountains. Car enthusiasts are a strange bunch for sure.
Fast forward an hour and I’m stood on a hairpin on the Healy Pass in thick fog, gimbal in hand, ready to film the first car that came into view. I hear the unmistakable sound of turbo spool and Daves Evo 3 bursts out of the gloom, headlights blazing and tyres already warm enough to squeal.
Any mention of tiredness is quickly disappearing, and I get to work, making sure I find new angles to make this year’s film better than the previous.
As cars passed I made a mental note to remember the rowdy and loud ones, which happened to be the two Lancer Evolutions you see below. I used this pairing to create a mini feature scene in the film to break up the footage and made sure to take the opportunity to grab some photos too, as it's not often you get an Evo 6 RS and an Evo 3 on the same piece of tar together.
Similarly, I wanted to capture two icons of 90's Irish rallying. Austin McHales Celica ST185 and Frank Meaghers 3dr Sierra Cosworth are synonymous with Irish roads so filming their road going counterparts for a Group A appreciation film was a no-brainer.
It just so happened that both examples were finished in a very similar shade of grey which contrasted beautifully against the gloomy morning weather.
With the bulk of the Healy Pass action in the bag and the road becoming busier with morning traffic, the convoy moved on to a nearby quarry, a perfect setting to let brakes cool and car chat flow.
It also provided the opportunity to gather three Type RA Imprezas in attendance, again taking advantage of a very rare occurrence to point my lens at three of these Group A icons.
For me, this is what car culture is all about. Like-minded enthusiasts enjoying their cars as they should be enjoyed, no politics, no nit-picking, no prizes for best this or that. We've had two (going on three) pretty rough years and while Rallye Omologato is about celebrating the homologation special, it felt like a celebration of freedom too. A much needed mental break away from the bs and nonsense that surrounds us.
A huge thank-you must go to Maurice and Cian who did the bulk of the heavy lifting in making this day happen. We've got some cool plans to take RO3 a little further in 2022 too, so keep an eye out for that! For now, check out my film below. I hope it does it justice.
Event: Rallye Omologato 2
Location: Healy Pass, Kerry