Donegal Record Holder Joins the Déjà Vu Party

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Andrew Nesbitt, the six-time Donegal International Rally winner, will be in the Parade of Power when the crews leave Jackson’s Hotel at 10.00am on Saturday, 31 August on the 120 mile trip of nostalgia over many of the famous Donegal stages.

Andrew’s record breaking run started in 1996 but the writing had been on the Donegal walls from the late 1980s, when the young Armagh ace started to appear regularly in the top 10. The 1996 rally was an epic with Bertie Fisher, James Cullen and Andrew engaged in a triangular tussle that had the whole county on edge. Bertie binned it on Fanad Head and then Andrew overtook James for his first International win.

Andrew Nesbitt

Andrew Nesbitt

He returned in 1998 with his Toyota Celica ST185 and a new co-driver, James O’Brien. It was the start of a highly successful partnership and they led Austin MacHale’s similar ST185 home by over a minute. But his drive in an S5 WRC Impreza in 2000 was the one that made Irish Rallying history. At the finish the WRC car was three and a half minutes ahead of James Cullen and Andrew and James had won every single special section!

His fourth Donegal victory in 2002 was a short and sad affair when two marshals were killed. His 2003 win wasn’t a runaway canter as in 2000 as Eugene Donnelly’s Impreza provided stiff opposition but in the end Andrew and James had over a minute in hand and were clutching the Jim Kennedy Trophy for the fifth time.

In 2006 Andrew was teamed with the experienced Mark Higgins in twin Mitsubishi Lancer WRCs. Kevin Lynch and Eugene Donnelly led but as the rally moved into its final day the Mitsubishis topped the times with ‘amateur’ Andrew leading ‘professional’ Mark by twenty-seven seconds.

The Dèjà Vu Donegal organisers have already received a record entry for their charity event in aid of the Donegal Hospice and will soon be setting up a reserve list..

“Everywhere in  Donegal we have received a heart-warming welcome. Donegal Oil helped us with the launch; the Ballybofey and Stranolar Chamber of Commerce have opened many doors; the Donegal Motor Club has given us their blessing and will be providing us with marshals; Bord Failté and the Donegal County Council are supporting our event; we will be announcing some very special arrangements with the Ramelton Festival Committee; Ulster Tyres are hosting the Registration and Jackson’s Hotel the Welcome Reception.

 Old friends Rory Kennedy and Ivan Fuery have rolled up their sleeves, indeed everyone has been so positive it is a pleasure to be bringing the event to the County.” 

Alan (Plum) Tyndall and Dr. Beatty Crawford.



Friday 31st, August

2.30 – 5.30pm                   Registration – Ulster Tyres, Stranrolar.

8.30 – 10.30pm                 Welcome Reception – Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey


Saturday 30th, August

10.00am                          Start – Jackson’s Hotel


                                           Lunch – Singing Pub, Atlantic Drive

3.00pm                            The Ramelton Rumble

7.00pm                            Gala Dinner & entertainment – Jackson’s Hotel


Register on  

Déjå Vu Donegal is a charity event with all profits going to the Donegal Hospice.


About Author

Andy is the founding member of RMS, and when he's not following motoring events around the UK and Ireland he can be found on the track (sideways, having competed in top level drifting for a decade), or of course he'll be on the forum.

RMS Forum Comments

Cooper replied at 08:22, Mon 20 May, 2019
THE ‘GENIE’ JOINS THE DÉjÀ VU DONEGAL PARTY 236576 Photo Esler Crawford Photoghaphy Eugene Donnelly, three time winner of the Donegal International Rally, is the latest of an impressive list of former winners who will be in Donegal at the end of August for Déjà Vu Donegal, the rally reunion party that is surpassing all expectations. “We knew the response in Donegal would be massive but we had no conception of how big. With three months still to go we already received 135 entries giving us no option but to start a reserve list when we reach the 150 mark. And it is not just the numbers, the quality is outstanding. Seven former winners have now signed up and five more have indicated their intention to join us. And look at the cars that will start the 120 mile route! Two Lancia Stratos, Renault Alpines, Sunbeam Tigers, Metro 6R4s, Vauxhall Chevettes, Sunbeam Talbots, and Lotus Cortinas. Three Toyotas and Mercedes. Five BMWs. Eight Opels. Ten Mk I and Mk II Escorts. Eleven Minis, eighteen Porsches and an Aston Martin!” Enthused Alan (Plum) Tyndall & Dr. Beatty Crawford the event organisers. EUGENE DONNELLY Eugene will be accompanied by Paul Kiely on Déjà Vu Donegal, when he won the rally in a Toyota Corolla WRC in 2004 and 2005, but it was Paddy Toner who was alongside ‘The Genie’ in 2008 in a Skoda Fabia WEC when the county Derry driver got his third Donegal win. The Donnelly/Derek McGeehan engineering partnership succeeded where others had failed in adapting a Toyota Corolla to Irish tarmac, and to the surprise of many in 2004 the Corolla led the rally from the start. But by stage four Nesbitt’s Subaru had moved ahead, then a stage blocking incident on day two enabled the Toyota to slip back into the lead and Eugene and Paul Kiely took their first Donegal win and went on to become the 2004 Irish Tarmac Rally Champions. Eugene’s task a year later was more difficult as Andrew Nesbitt and Derek McGarrity were in upgraded Subarus, but Nesbitt crashed and McGarrity retired and Eugene’s second Donegal win led to his second consecutive Irish Tarmac Championship. The Donnelly/McGeehan combo was again at work in 2008, this time on a Skoda Fabia WRC. Sadly the rally was curtailed on the second day when an errant spectator strayed onto the road and was fatally injured. Eugene and Paddy Toner received the Jim Kennedy Trophy but there were no celebrations. DÉJÀ VU DONEGAL WEEKEND FORMAT. Friday 31st, August 2.30 – 5.30pm Registration - Ulster Tyres, Stranrolar. 8.30 – 10.30pm Welcome Reception - Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey Saturday 30th, August 10.00am Start - Jackson’s Hotel 120-route Lunch - Singing Pub, Atlantic Drive 3.00pm The Ramelton Rumble 7.00pm Gala Dinner & entertainment - Jackson’s Hotel Déjå Vu Donegal is supported by The Donegal Motor Club, the Ballybofey and Stranorlar Chamber of Commerce, Bord Failté, Tourism Donegal, Jackson’s Hotel and the Ramelton Festival Committee. All profits will be donated to the Donegal Hospice.
cormac81 replied at 10:32, Mon 20 May, 2019
Has the actual route been communicated yet?
Cooper replied at 10:08, Thu 30 May, 2019
BELGIAN, DUTCH AND EUROPEAN Rally CHAMPION WILL BE CELEBRITY GUEST AT DÉjÀ VU DONEGAL 237822 Seven times Belgium and Dutch Rally Champion in 1992 and European Rally Champion in 1994 Patrick Snijers will be a celebrity guest at Déjà Vu Donegal, the event that is giving it’s support to the Donegal Hospice, on the 30 – 31 August. Although Patrick never rallied in Donegal he turned many heads and hearts on his five appearances at the Lurgan Park Rally and his one outing on the Toshiba Rally in the Antrim forests. The debonair Belgium has recorded an astonishing 104 wins in his long rallying career including a runner up spot in the World Rally Championship Rallye Sanremo in 1993. He first got the attention of the Irish fans in 1988 when he won the Manx International, a counting round of the Irish Tarmac Championship, driving his distinctive BMW M3 in its Bastos/Castrol livery and incidentally on Northern Ireland plates. “Patrick became a resident in Lurgan Park between 1995 and ’99 showing us just what a professional he was as he adapted to that highly specialist event and won it on his third attempt in 1998.” remembers Plum Tyndall who recorded all the Belgium’s drives for RPM Motorsport He won in ’98 but it was his battle with Gwyndaff Evans the previous year that gave the Park pundits a day that they are unlikely to forget. Both were in almost identical WRC Escort Cosworths, with Gwyndaff’s having a slight edge, as it was a works entry. The Welsh driver led by 3 seconds after the first 3 stages but a half spin on stage 6 left the two professionals on equal terms going into the last stage. At the end of the test they had both recorded a time of 1m.51.7s. with Gwyndaff getting the result on count back having recorded more fastest stage time during the afternoon. As always Willie McKee, who organised the sponsorship that helped to bring Patrick to Ireland, was by his side in the same car that had brought them so close to winning the year before,when they finally sipped the champagne. Patrick will be joined by a host of former Donegal winners and the ‘First Lady’ of Irish Motorsport, Rosemary Smith. Rosemary, who drove a F1 Renault on her 80th. birthday, will be in a Sunbeam Tiger in ‘The Hills’, one of two of the classic 1960s V8 engine sportscars in the event. DÉJÀ VU DONEGAL WEEKEND FORMAT Friday 31st, August 2.30 – 5.30pm Registration - Ulster Tyres, Stranrolar. 8.30 – 10.30pm Welcome Reception - Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey Saturday 30th, August 10.00am 120 mile run. Start - Jackson’s Hotel Lunch Halt - Singing Pub, Atlantic Drive 3.00pm The Ramelton Rumble – Ramelton river front 7.00pm Gala Dinner - Jackson’s Hotel
Cooper replied at 10:09, Thu 30 May, 2019
| Has the actual route been communicated yet?
I would guess this is only given to entrants. Worth contacting Plum to ask. ([email protected])
cormac81 replied at 10:20, Thu 30 May, 2019
| I would guess this is only given to entrants. Worth contacting Plum to ask. ([email protected])
Cheers would be nice to see this on move.
Cooper replied at 10:37, Tue 18 Jun, 2019
239968 When Vincent Bonner and Seamus McGettigan broadsided their Group 4 Escort through the streets of Letterkenny on the last stage of the 1983 rally the crowds could not contain themselves with joy as they cheered the first Donegal pair to win their own International. That victory triggered the greatest celebrations in the event’s history which started in Letterkenny and ended during the following week with a cavalcade through Vincent’s home town of Dungloe. Vincent had shown form in Group N but in 1983 he hit the jackpot. Austin MacHale, (Vauxhall Chevette) and Bertie Fisher (Opel Manta) had led the rally but following Bertie’s crash it looked as if the Dubliner was about to get his first Donegal win. He started the penultimate test with a nine second advantage but arrived at the end of Atlantic Drive having incurred three punctures to Vincent and Seamus’s amazement. Vincent will be joining previous Donegal International winners, Andrew Nesbitt, Cathal Curley, Jimmy McRae, Eugene Donnelly, John Lyons, Brian Nelson, and Austin MacHale, who will head the 150 car parade over the 120 mile route on Saturday 31st. August. Entry enquiries are now being put on a reserve list, but places at the Gala Dinner on Saturday night are still available online at: DÉJÀ VU DONEGAL WEEKEND FORMAT. Friday 31st, August 2.30 – 5.30pm Registration - Ulster Tyres, Stranrolar. 8.30 – 10.30pm Welcome Reception - Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey Saturday 30th, August 10.00am 120 mile run. Start - Jackson’s Hotel Lunch Halt - Singing Pub, Atlantic Drive 3.00pm The Ramelton Rumble – Ramelton river front 7.00pm Gala Dinner - Jackson’s Hotel For further details contact: Alan (Plum) Tyndall Tel. 0044 7887827150 email: [email protected] 58 Edentrillick Rd. Hillsborough. Co. Down BT26 6PG
Manta replied at 23:22, Tue 25 Jun, 2019
Friday 30th August 15.00 Park Fermé opens. Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey 17.00 - 19.00 Registration 19.00 - 20.30 Welcome Reception Saturday 31st August 10.00 Cavalcade Starts. Jackson’s Hotel 120-mile route over classic Donegal stages such as Glen, Atlantic Drive, Knockalla and Ramelton 12.00 (Approx.) Lunch halt The Singing Pub, Atlantic Drive 15.00 The Ramelton Rumble 16.00 (Approx.) Crews return to Jackson’s Hotel. 19.30 Gala Dinner in Jackson’s Hotel with videos, star driver interviews and entertainment.