Ir­ish­man Kelly is tak­ing fa­mous Ford to the Otago Rally

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By Jack Benyon

Frank Kelly will take his in­fa­mous ‘baby blue’ Ford Es­cort Mk2 to New Zealand for the Otago Rally in April.

The 2008 BTRDA Sil­ver Star cham­pion has com­pletely re­built the car – which is pow­ered by a Vaux­hall en­gine – and has al­ready shipped it to New Zealand.

“I’ve al­ways fol­lowed the Sil­ver Fern Rally and Otago has al­ways popped up too,” said Kelly. “I’ve al­ways thought some day I will go there. As we well know, some day often never comes. The way ral­ly­ing is go­ing in the UK and Ire­land it’s tough to know the way things are go­ing to go. Over Christ­mas I thought 2017 is the year to do some­thing. Otago had been in touch in Septem­ber last year and asked if I’d con­sider do­ing the event.

“I made a few calls to ver­ify the emails were le­git and it snow­balled from there. I had to get the Es­cort into a de­cent state and it went out two weeks ago.”

Kelly has be­come well known on so­cial me­dia chan­nels af­ter videos of his flam­boy­ant driv­ing style and dis­tinc­tive turquoise car have re­ceived over 400,000 views on Youtube.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t know that we have two ‘baby blues’, the Millington one is the one I use on Tar­mac ral­lies here and the gravel car is a 2.5-litre Vaux­hallpow­ered car,” ex­plained Kelly. “I haven’t done a gravel rally since Fe­bru­ary last year, I’ve stripped it down and it’s had a nose-to-tail re­build down to sand­blast­ing the ’shell. It’s done 10 years of ral­ly­ing.

“It was a white-knuckle ride get­ting it into the con­tainer ready to go. I’ve never been hap­pier to wave good­bye to a car in my life.”

Kelly is also in talks to com­pete on other events in New Zealand and Aus­tralia, al­though noth­ing is con­firmed. The car will be in South Asia un­til just be­fore Christ­mas this year.

Closer to home, Kelly’s Ir­ish cam­paign will start with the West Cork Rally, the sec­ond round of the Ir­ish Tar­mac Rally Cham­pi­onship.

Kelly’s Es­cort heads abroad

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