Local rally driver Padraig McCarthy has been making waves recently in the National Rally Championship. After what he says was a slightly shaky start Padraig is now in fourth place, just one point off third place and he is looking forward to the road that lies ahead, he told Louise Cashell
"It was a bit of an auspicious start but its turned a bit for me since then and I'm doing ok now. It's a good position to be in, just one point behind third place so if I have a good outing the next day that can help carry me forward further."
Next up for Padraig is the Stonethrowers Rally in Tipperary in August and there is a bit of work to be done yet in the two months leading up to the competition.
"Preparation is a huge part of rally driving," says Padraig. "For the rally in August I'll have to strip the car and pretty much put it all back together again. I'll probably try and get out on the circuit a bit and take part in some of the rallies that aren't part of the championship, I'd just prefer to keep the feet on the ground a bit and get in as much practice as possible. If you do well in a rally and keep the ball rolling it can give you huge confidence which is key in rally driving."
Padraig says there is plenty of opportunity to practice rally driving with various competitions on every weekend, it's simply choosing the right ones.
"There's various factors you need to think about but the road is probably the main one. In the midlands the roads are wide whereas things are a lot tighter than down in counties like Kerry so you need to choose the rallies that are suited to your needs.
"Weather is also a huge factor in rally driving. I'm lucky in that I find rain actually suits me but you need to know how to change your tyres and things like that under pressure so there is a lot more goes in to it than people probably think. I'm a mechanic so I now how to do it by trade which is a good asset.
"It's a cliché but fail to prepare, prepare to fail. That couldn't be truer for rally driving, if you don't have everything prepared for a rally, it can end up counting against you and there's nothing worse than when you're at fault yourself because you didn't prepare something properly. I've been partaking in rally competitions for three years now so I'm used to it at this stage."
The world of Irish rally driving was rocked when, almost three weeks ago, two spectators were killed when a rally car crashed in to a crowd. Female rally co-driver Caroline Cleary and photographer Joe Lane were both well known on the circuit. Padraig says that the rally community is doing its best to go forward.
"It's very difficult, it was a tragic accident. Given the nature of rally driving the safety record overall is excellent. You have to get on with it though, people tend to jump on the bandwagon and say this and that about rally driving but its just not the case.
"This was a freak accident, it can happen in any sport but it's very, very sad. The rally driving community is close-knit. There's great camaraderie and friendship and at times like this, that's important. I'm just looking ahead to August now and preparing for that."