Round four of the 2015 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forestry Championship, was the Cork Motor Club’s Jim Walsh Cork Forestry Rally, based in Mallow, and there was a real race to the finish between two drivers in Mitsubishi Evo 9’s. It was Monaghan’s Josh Moffett who set the early pace, just 0.8 of a second ahead of Evo rival, local driver Owen Murphy, who felt his car was dragging in the slippery conditions. It proved to be an amazing battle, never more than 2.3 seconds separating the two driver’s and after five stages, Moffett held the narrowest 0.5 of a second advantage! It couldn’t get closer until Murphy found his way through on stage six, picked up the pace further and extended the gap to 7.4 seconds at the finish, to record his third Cork Forestry victory. Owen’s second win of the year puts him in contention for the title, but he wouldn’t commit to whether he will make the start of the next round in Enniskillen on 5th September. We will just have to wait and see.
Behind the leading race was championship leader Mick O’Brien in his battle scarred Ford Focus WRC. “We had a
huge moment and we were lucky to get away with mainly superficial damage. It’s another haul of points, and we are still leading the series. We are still on track, but just need to watch the dropped scores as we head for the Lakeland Stages” said Mick. Fourth overall and driving the first two wheel drive car home was Frank Kelly in his 2.5 MK2 Escort. He had been headed initially by the cheeky 2 litre Starlet of Shane McGirr, who scored maximum Valvoline 2wd points. “It was a great race with Frank” said Shane. “On stage four however I hit a chicane and Frank took six seconds, and you don’t give away that sort of time to Frank, but we are very happy with sixth overall and the points.”
In fifth in between the top two wheel drive runners, was Niall Henry, using the WRC Impreza which brother Desi had driven earlier in the season. Early problems with the ignition cutting off was solved with a “dirty big screw” and fifth was the reward. Gerard Lucey in his Evo 8, once again proved his consistent speed in the series in seventh, with Seamus O’Connell making a welcome trip back to the forests in his 2.5 Escort in eighth, and Rodney Wilton, normally a MK2 exponent ninth in an Evo 9. Comber’s David Crossen had a fine run to tenth, and second in class 13, ahead of Valvoline Two Wheel Drive series leader Micky Conlon whose dramas included hitting the rear quarter panel on a chicane. Retirements included Adrian Hetherington who was fastest 2wd on stage one, before an off on stage two, and mechanical issues at the second service, and Andrew Fanning whose Evo suffered gear selection problems. Patrick O’Brien, despite a few moments over the bumps on stage two, once again took the Ears Motorsport Ireland supported Junior category honours in his Citroen C2 R2, in thirteenth overall. Kevin Eves back out in his Peugeot 208 R2, suffered serious clutch problems all day, getting stuck in gear at one point, but he struggled around to finish twentieth.
Other class winners included John Gordon (MK2 Escort)- class 12, Stephen Cullen (Subaru Impreza)- class 4, Paul Fitzgerald (MK2 Escort)-class 11R, Mike Garahy (MK2 Escort)-class 10, Emmett Cronin (MK2 Escort)-class 9, John Byrnes (Renault Clio)-class 2, Stephen Dickson (Fiesta ST)- class 3 and John O’Connor (Honda Civic)- class 11F.
Round five of the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship is in just two weeks for the Enniskillen based Lakeland Stages Rally.
2015 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forestry Rally Championship- Round Four
1 Owen Murphy/Anthony Nestor Mitsubishi Evo 9 33.20.6
2 Josh Moffett/Jason McKenna Mitsubishi Evo 9 +7.4s
3 Michael O’Brien/James O’Brien Ford Focus WRC +52.0s
4 Frank Kelly/Sean Hayde Ford Escort Mk2 +1:50.4
5 Niall Henry/John Rowan Subaru WRC +1:59.8
6 Shane McGirr/Jackie Elliott Toyota Starlet +2:01.3
7 Gerard Lucey/JJ Cremin Mitsubishi Evo 8 +2:31.0
8 Seamus O’Connell/Brian Duggan Ford Escort Mk2 +2:56.5
9 Rodney Wilton/Conor McMahon Mitsubishi Evo 9 +3:24.7
10 David Crossen/Damien Fleming Ford Escort Mk2 +3:27.6
Provisional Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forestry Rally Championship Points
after Round Four:
1 Michael O’Brien 76 pts
2 Michael Conlon 62
3 Gerard Lucey 52
4 Niall Henry 51
5 John Gordon 46
6 Owen Murphy 42
7 Andrew Fanning 40
8 Josh Moffett 39
9 David Crossen 36
10 Stephen Cullen 33
For more information including registration details for the series visit- www.irishforestrally.com
F: Irish Forestry Championship T:@IrlForestchamp
Images from www.barronpix.com