Robert Barrable has promised he is going to 'push hard' and 'won't be driving just for a finish' when he contests his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship, the Circuit of Ireland next week in his Tunnock's World Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5.
The 26-year old Dublin driver was the first to place an entry to secure a place in the starting line up, which sees Europe's top rally teams and drivers compete against the Irish elite.
A recent rarmac test outing on the West Cork Rally didn't go to plan, with a misfire and early retirement, but Barrable will head to Belfast next week match fit, having just finished the gruelling Rally de Portugal.
The Tunnock's Fiesta R5 left Faro immediately after the finish on Sunday and arrived back at CA1 Sport in Carlisle on Tuesday night, where it was converted from gravel to tarmac specification in preparation for a pre-event test in Ireland this coming Monday.
“This year's Circuit of Ireland is going to be fantastic – a challenging event with a lot of tough ERC and Irish competition, and it will be very interesting to see how the new Peugeot 208T16 compares to the Fiesta R5 and Fabia S2000s. And for those reasons, it's hard to predict what our pace is going to be like until we get to the Qualifying Stage. But one thing's for sure, it's going to be a very tough rally,” said Barrable, who has done the Circuit three times to date, although he has only finished once, when he was sixth in 2012.
“Even though the stages are relatively close to home, I don't know them so well,” he added. “I might have done one or two of them back in 2009; Hamilton's Folly stands out and I've definitely done the stage near Banbridge and the Lisburn spectator stage. I'm sure Bobby Willis [event director] has picked some really good and very challenging stages though. There are some very nice rally roads in that area – not so narrow and bumpy, but fast and flowing.”
“I'm really excited to be doing such a high-class ERC event an hour and a half drive away from where I live in Swords, and I hope the fans come out in force to support us and enjoy the event. We're going to push hard – we won't be driving just for a finish, we'll be aiming for a good result,” he confirmed.
“I'm looking forward to the Circuit of Ireland, because it's a different challenge for me,” continued co-driver Stuart Loudon. “Having rallied in a lot of different tarmac areas in Europe, I've not really got any experience of rallying on tarmac in Ireland, but I've heard so much about it. Being so close to home, you always hear so much about the Irish Tarmac Championship events being so good and very competitive, so I'm sure this will be no different.
“Rob and I are both match fit coming straight from Rally Portugal, and if the car works well we should be on for a good result in Ireland.”