Peugeot team tests new car in Tralee
MOTORING and rally fans enjoyed a special treat at the weekend with the Peugeot Rally team unexpectedly bringing their newest car to Tralee for tests ahead of the Circuit of Kerry Rally.
The event, which took place on Sunday, drew a large crowd to Tralee for the weekend with most of the town's hotels and B&Bs close to capacity and pubs and restaurants benefiting from a welcome boost in business.
Sunday's rally, won by Donegal driver Declan Boyle, featured some top quality racing but an undoubted highlight for the hundreds of rally fans who packed the Fels Point Hotel over the weekend was the arrival of the Peugeot team with a surprise in tow.
The team brought their new European Rally Championship Peugeot 208 T16 to Tralee for a day's testing ahead of the rally. On Saturday the team took the car out on a series of high speed tests on the roads around Tralee and in West Kerry.
While the car had been used in competition it hadn't been road tested on tarmac and the Peugeot team used their visit to get in some serious road testing on twisting back roads that were specially closed off for the purpose.
The tests were filmed by aerial film crews with several helicopters to be seen buzzing over the test route for much of Saturday afternoon.
Kerry's roads nearly proved too much for the car and which almost failed to start Sunday's rally because of gearbox damage suffered during the testing session. Luckily for the many assembled rally fans a new gearbox was shipped in from France on Saturday evening and fitted by the crew late in time for the rally on Sunday morning.
More than 130 cars took part in the event and there was some local success with Tralee's PJ O'Dowd and John Young, the defending Top Part West Coast historic rally champions, recording their second historic national rally win of the year. The pair are now clear leaders of this category in the national series.
Meanwhile Tralee-based co-driver Paidraig Brick guided his driver, County Louth's Phillip McKibben, to second in this section.