Round four of the 2015 Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship, takes place this Sunday, for the Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, based in Mallow, County Cork. Clerk of the Course Brian O’Connell has fifty five kilometres of flowing forestry stages, to re-start the Valvoline series in style after its recess since the third round- the Moonraker in April. This year the Irish Forest Rally Championship is celebrating a milestone- its 25th anniversary, and this televised series has a very enthusiastic organising team who are eager to get more competitors into the forests.
It was Owen Murphy in his Mitsubishi Evo 9 who took victory on the third round, despite a failing head-gasket, and the Cork driver has quite a record on this weekend’s rally. It was Mick O’Brien in his Focus WRC who opened the year with a win on the Carrick on Suir-Willie Loughman event, and he followed that with a second place in Donegal to Andrew Purcell and third on the Moonraker event to lead the series by eleven points. “I am looking forward to the Cork Forestry event, it’s a good rally, with nice stages. As far as the championship is concerned however, there are four rounds still to go and with dropped scores anything can happen yet” said Mick. The challenges from Andrew Purcell or Owen Murphy could materialise further, and the four wheel drive entry in Cork is a strong one, with Josh Moffett, Niall Henry and Ger Lucey adding to the potential winners list.
The two-wheel drive race will be one to watch, with series leader Micky Conlon on top form, lying an amazing second overall in the championship. Adding to the two wheel drive mix are furiously fast forestry men- Frank Kelly, Adrian Hetherington- who won the race last year, and Shane McGirr. David Crossen is another driver who has clocked up points, whilst James Coleman and David Condell cannot be discounted in what promises to be an epic race. In the Ears Motorsport sponsored Junior category- round one winner Kevin Eves in his 208 R2 will take on the challenge from Patrick O’Brien in his Citroen C2 R2, with the top Valvoline registered Junior in line to win two Kumho rally tyres this weekend. It’s a busy calendar for the rest of the year, with just two weeks to prepare for the Enniskillen based Lakeland Stages, then the Mayo Forest Rally in October, and the championship finale in the Glens of Antrim in November.
2015 Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Calendar
Round 1 – Willie Loughman Carrick on Suir Forest Rally (1st March)
Round 2 – Donegal Forest Rally (21st March)
Round 3 – Munster CC Moonraker Forest Rally (12th April)
Round 4 – Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally (23rd August)
Round 5 – Enniskillen Lakelands Forest Rally (5th September)
Round 6 – Mayo Forest Rally (18th October)
Round 7 – Glens of Antrim Forest Rally (7th November)
Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship Points after Round Three:
1 Michael O’Brien 58pts
2 Michael Conlon 49
3 Andrew Fanning 39
4 Gerard Lucey 37
5 Niall Henry 34
= John Gordon 34
For more information including registration details for the series visit- www.irishforestrally.com