The Treaty Plant Hire Limerick Forest Rally takes place this Sunday 25th March, three weeks after its postponement due to ‘Storm Emma’. The Silvermines based rally is the second round of the Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship and has attracted a very impressive field of almost 90 cars to date. Clerk of the Course Kieran Ambrose has plotted a route of 8 stages (4 locations used twice) totalling close to 75kms.
The impressive list is headed by Josh Moffett & Stephen Thornton who will be hoping for better luck than in the last round at Carrick on Suir. Josh will be match fit as this will be his third weekend in a row behind the wheel following good results on tarmac in Mayo and West Cork. Andrew Purcell, who leads the championship will once again provide Moffett with a stiff test in his Fiesta R5 while Barry McKenna was very impressive in Waterford and starts at number three here. Stephen McCann took an excellent third place in Carrick despite a relative lack of gravel experience and will provide a threat to the front three. Gerard Lucey, Conor McCourt & Michael Carbin are also capable of a good result while Enda McCormack & Cathan McCourt are also out in R5 machinery. John Coyne and Pauric Duffy are more known for tarmac exploits but are entered in a Subaru Impreza WRC & Fiesta R5 respectively.
The 2WD category is always competitive and this coming weekend will showcase more of the same with Mickey Conlon hoping to maintain his lead of the championship following an excellent tenth overall in Carrick. His rivals Shane McGirr & David Crossen failed to finish the first round so will be looking to claw back some of the deficit this weekend. John Gordon and Tommy O’Connell both finished the opening round but both suffered significant delays at either end of the event but they have points on the board and will be looking to improve on that this weekend.
The Junior Category was very competitive also in the opening round with James Wilson taking top points. He is the top seeded Junior for Limerick but has a string of very fast rivals behind him such as Jordan Hone, Derek Mackarel, John O’Sullivan, Johnnie Mulholland, Jody McManus and Marty Gallagher to name a few. The M. O’Brien Plant Hire Junior 1000 class sees 2017 champion and current leader Jason Murphy up against Peter Beaton and Aoife Gahan from the opening round as well as Rory Byrne who brings is Citroen C1 to the woods for the first time this year.
The action begins at 9:37am with the opening stage art Keeper Hill, followed by the Cournanine test. These stages are repeated before the afternoon loop which takes in two runs over Arra Mountain & Ballyhourigan. The first car is due back at Parc Ferme at around 4.20pm.