Sam Moffett & Darragh Kelly in a Fiesta WRC were convincing winners of the Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, the fourth round of the Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship. At the end of the Mallow based event they had 51.4 seconds to spare over Jonny Leonard / Arthur Kierans in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. A storming drive from David Crossen / Damien Fleming (Ford Escort) saw them win the 2WD category and take a superb third place overall seven seconds behind Leonard. Jason & Matthew Murphy took the category and championship win in the Junior 1000 Trophy in their Peugeot 107.
Clerk of the Course Paul Casey had lain out a six stage rally using the classic Mount Hilary and Bweeng tests, and at 16km the longest stage of the event, Boggeragh which was used for the first time last year and proved popular with competitors. Moffett was quickest over the opening pair of stages to lead by 30 seconds heading into the first service. Adrian Hetherington & Gary Nolan were second quickest on the opening test just three seconds behind, but a broken gear linkage bracket side-lined them at the start of Stage 2. Enda McCormack & Colin Fitzgerald were second overall in a Subaru Impreza heading to service while Crossen was sensational as he showed his 2WD rivals a clean pair of heels to hold third place. The showery conditions were helping to keep the dust levels down and 63 of the 65 starters were still running at this point.
The third stage at Boggeragh saw Moffett pick up a puncture early on the stage and he continued on driving on a flat for almost 11km which saw his lead reduced to just 11 seconds over Crossen. Gerard Lucey in third place was just under three seconds further back in third place and was having a great battle with Jonny Leonard and Jordan Hone who was fastest on that long stage. Cathan McCourt slid off the road and into retirement while Dermot Kelly was another to retire on this loop. Moffett put the hammer down on the fourth stage at Mount Hilary and his lead was back up to 20 seconds heading into service with Crossen in second and Lucey in third place.
The final pair of stages saw Moffett extend his lead out to a winning margin of 51.4 seconds from Leonard who turned up the pace to overhaul Crossen for the runner up spot. Crossen had the consolation of winning the 2WD category while Jordan Hone took fourth overall from Gerard Lucey with Enda McCormack completing the top six places. Jason Murphy was the winner of the J1000 category from Aoife Gahan and Jason Gorham. 49 cars finished from 65 starters.
What they said:
Sam Moffett – “It was a great event with fantastic stages, the long stage was brilliant, despite puncturing there the first run over”.
Jonny Leonard – “The stages were very good, fast and flowing, a different character to the stages at home. We knew we had to bring points home so we didn’t take any risks and are happy with second place”.
David Crossen – “The stages were fantastic, held up really well throughout the day. We had a big push on stages 5 and 6 but couldn’t keep Jonny Leonard behind us”.
Jason Murphy – “I really enjoyed the event, particularly the long stage Boggeragh where we had a good run both times”.
Images from Ger Leahy.