Due to a fresh relaunch to include some new cars onto the fleet, all of which are available for you to drive, we travelled just across that invisible line where the road markings and road signs change, to spend a morning at Rally School Ireland (RSI) and enjoy the thrills, spills and adrenaline they have to offer as well as to be one of the first few people to experience first hand, two new cars they have on site.
These new cars are rather quite special and indeed very different to anything else available to drive in Ireland and come in the form of the Ariel Nomad [read review here] and KTM X-Bow GT [review coming soon], both of which are the only ones of their kind on the Emerald Isle and both of which you can drive at the RSI purpose built track.
RSI is Ireland’s premier driving experience and motorsport facility, built some 17 years ago, the centre in Scotstown Co. Monaghan has developed itself and expanded over the years to accommodate the needs of its customer base and indeed offer something that no one else can.
With around 22 various cars on site, there is no shortage of choice when it comes to choosing what you want to drive on the meandering 1.1km all tarmac circuit, from rallying to drifting to supercars with something to suit all men, women, teens and kids aged 10+ in between.
With ten staff across the business, there is a very personal elementto the driving experience and a lot of craic to be had from the moment you arrive in reception right through to the instructors who in all fairness encourage you a little too much at times when on track. It is this encouragement that makes it so fun though and in turn, a lot can be learnt from them when it comes to driving fast, safely.
I don’t have room to list the full fleet of cars here so check out the RSI website for that, what i will say however is that they are all built to an impeccable standard and either full competition or very close to competition standard. The most expensive cars on site that you could drive are the Ferrari 355, Porsche 911 and the all new KTM X-Bow GT.
When chatting with owner David Smyth, he recalled some of his most favorite cars they have ever had as part of the experience which include two GrpB monsters in the guise of an Audi Quattro and Metro 6R4, the Metro was actually used as part of a demo during Rally Ireland when Dungannon’s WRC star Kris Meeke drove it in a very flamboyant manner through Donegal town.
Kris actually worked at RSI for close to a decade before his professional rallying career took over and indeed had the pleasure of enjoying the new cars just weeks before the launch and from the video i seen of him in the Atom, he was as flamboyant as ever which i tried my hardest to emulate as you will see in the above video.
Anyway, back to the day in hand and after experiencing the Ariel Nomad and KTM X-Bow it was into yet another new car to the fleet with a left hand drive, fully prepared Toyota GT86. As a lover of the GT86 road car i was very keen to see what it was like on track and i wasn’t disappointed.
After this it was into the Ford Escort MK2 which, since my last visit, has been fitted with power steering making the drive all that much easier, in fact going by the video above, i contradict that statement with a third gear spin after cutting the corner and getting the offside tyres wet before taking a left hander which led to a spin.
Once the rain came it was my turn to enjoy the WRX STi and i must say that these cars are superb, in the wet the traction control system was working a little too much for my liking so once all driving aids were turned off, it was clear that the all wheel drive Subaru could easily be mistaken for rear wheel drive, absolutely awesome.
On the sideways note, from previous days at RSI i must say my all time favorite car is the Nissan 350z, now equipped with a hydraulic handbrake it provides lap after lap of sideways, controllable fun and a must drive for any true petrol head who feels they are the next Ken Block!
Some other great things on offer at RSI include a conference suite, restaurant which i must say provides the nicest roast beef dinner anywhere in the world and if you book a large group party then there is an option to get fed and watered during the day.
Also on offer is rally license courses affiliated with Motorsport Ireland, where any keen driver can be put through the plethora of technical information ahead of competing and once passing several elements involved the license is granted.
David commented that the key to the success of Rally School Ireland is down to “Hard work and commitment to giving the customer an amazing day they will never forget. We have new cars, new helmets, new overalls and we offer the most exciting range of rally cars, super cars, drift cars, Ariel Nomad and KTM X-Bow GT”.
He finished with a smile and said “Drive the Best, Drive with Us” – David and his team must be doing something right as some of the worlds finest drivers have enjoyed RSI including the late Colin McRae, Petter Solberg and our very own Colin Turkington.
Words & Photos: Graham Curry