Name: Katrina Walsh Liston
Birthday: 10th April 1985
Lives: Cappagh, Co. Limerick
Occupation: Office Manager at Derek Walsh Camper Centre
Rally car: BMW E30 with a 2L Honda engine
Road car: 2008 BMW 320D MSport
How old were you when you drove your first car ?
12 years old. Dad was after washing his car and he asked me to get in and reverse it out for him. He was standing behind the car. I spun the wheels and covered him in muck, whoops!
Where does your love of motorsport come from?
My parents. My mother was a total petrolhead and did the odd bit of navigating for my first father Noel Conlon, who rallied a RWD 205 built by Kenny Colbert. They lived for rallying, my first father rallied until he died, you might remember him from the footage of the 1993 Circuit of Ireland where everything was done to ensure he finished the rally in the Sierra. At each service he would have to be brought to the local hospital to be put on oxygen before he’d go back into the car again. My daddy now Derek Walsh, was a serious pilot in a car, he just had a lot of bad luck. He spent too much time sorting out other peoples cars and never his own! He finished 3rd overall in the single stage in Dungarvan in 1991 in his Lotus Sunbeam. Frank Meagher won and Declan Wilmott was 2nd. He was 7th overall in Banna Single Stage in 1992 and 10th overall in Galway Summer 1992. But other than that he tended to break down! That was a pity because he could have pulled a lot more very good results.
What was your first rally car ?
Built up a 2001 Peugeot 106 Gti Class 2 Group N car. Fast little standard car. I co-owned it with my boyfriend at the time and my parents. Think it was 2002 when we built it.
How do you find navigating with your hubby ?
Grand actually! When he listens! Ha I’m just kidding!
He trusts me and I trust him so I guess that’s what makes us a good team. Sean had a good bit of bad luck before I sat with him and he tended to crash quite a bit too. But to be honest we just clicked from the start. The first time I sat with him was the Limerick Mini Stages in 2009 and we won our class. His first class win. I only really navigate for Sean to be honest, he does be nervous about me navigating for anybody else in case I’d get hurt, the way he sees it is that when I’m with him at least he’s there to look after me! Although he might have to reconsider if a lad with a 2.5 or a WRC came knocking on my door haha!
To be honest I think it really helps a relationship when you have the same interests. Especially when there’s so much money involved. Not every partner would understand you breaking yourself every week to try to do a rally!
I tried to go out with a guy once that wasn’t into rallying, it only lasted a few weeks! It’s a no go area for me.
What is your dream rally car and why ?
Audi Quatto Sport, the short wheel base version with the mental wings, an S1 I believe it’s called. Sooooooo sexy! Just listen to it… it’s sex on wheels seriously! Nothing else since looks or sounds like it.
Other than that I obviously have a penchant for BMW E30s, the old M3s were stunning cars. Watch Patrick Snijers at the Manx rally in 1988 on YouTube and you’ll see how beautiful an M3 is in full flight. But I’m particularly partial to our E30 with its Mark II arches, I think she looks very butch!
And you can’t beat the sing off a Millington Escort too! Yum!
To be honest I’m a modified girl through and through. I find them far sexier than WRCs or GroupNs. You can’t beat RWD either!
What’s your plans for the rest of 2014 year?
Hopefully try to do the last 4 rounds of the Dunlop National Rally Championship, funds allowing. We’re lying in 3rd in class at the moment so it would be great to finish there or better in our first year in the car.
Hmm…I tend to mix it up a bit. But I often just drink wine with a dash of white because it’s a fast and cheap way for me to get tipsy, it goes straight to my head!
Do you have any frustrating memories in rallying?
Worst moment for me was rolling out of the Fastnet rally in 2010. Think it was the 4th stage. We were already leading Eugene Donnelly and the rest of the class by 1 and a half minutes, we were on a mission and were absolutely delighted with ourselves and I think we were lying in the top 20 in the little 127bhp Nova. And it was the softest roll ever, we rolled down into a bog, it was like rolling on a marshmallow! Did no damage, just couldn’t get back out of it again. Then a Junior came on later and ploughed into the side of us and destroyed the front side of the car. Not the luckiest day for us.
Who is your Favourite rally driver of all time and why?
Colin McRae. I remember sitting in the front room watching him win the 1995 World Rally Championship, they played that song “You’ve Done It All” as he came flat out over a jump. And he really had done it all. I loved Jimmy, Colin’s dad, too, I heard so much about him from my mom.
And Sebastien Loeb. Unreal. And gorgeous!
Who is Ireland’s next top rally driver?
Other than my hubby? That will surely win me some brownie points!! He’s a really talented driver though, the things he could make that Nova do were crazy, especially before we got her rebuilt when she only had 90bhp! We shouldn’t have won the class or the Juniors a lot of the time when we did. It’s a pity he hasn’t got more money behind him so he can be out more often. Wait till he gets used to this BMW, he’ll surprise you all then! 😉
Hmm…the Moffett brothers are on a serious roll right now. They’re ones to watch.
Daniel McKenna of course. Some pilot. Unreal watching him flat out in the Escort. The car control he has is amazing.
And Declan Gallagher, he’s really humbling a lot of boys out there in better machinery.
Who is going to win the wrc this year 2014?
Sebastien Ogier. Because he’s so bloody quick! And he rarely makes mistakes.
What is the best tarmac rally and why?
Donegal International. We’re competing in it next year if it’s the last thing we do! It’s just an amazing event, the stages, the cars, the fans, the scenery, the atmosphere, the afterparty! It would be a dream to compete in it and finish it.
Would you recommend navigating and why?
Of course! It’s a great way to get started in the sport for one thing, without having to shell out the costs of looking after your own car. And it’s really good craic!
When you’re flat chat down a stage and you’re trusting eachother 100% there’s this flow between you and you know there’s no room for error, there’s such an adrenaline rush, it’s mental!
I want to drive some day too though. I’d love to! If I ever get over my nerves of people watching me and the few heroes on the ditch commentating! I have my license from MSI. Sean’s mad for me to do a rally or a sprint some day too, he thinks I’d be good because I’m a bit mad in a car but I reckon I’d come home with every single panel bent!! That’s if I’d finish at all! But some day I’ll do something. Maybe up north where not many people would know me!!
But I really do love navigating, I cannot wait until our next outing in the Stonethrowers, I’m counting down the days! Mad for tar!