The excitement is reaching fever pitch in the Boggeragh Mountains as a bumper field of some of the country’s finest rally machines and drivers are set to take on six high speed gravel stages in this years Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally.
Organised by Cork Motor Club, the 2022 event is a welcome return to action following a three-year enforced absence, although a hugely successful Boggeragh Sprint last December by the club really whetted the appetite of competitors who are travelling from all over Ireland to compete.
Once again, the event is title-sponsored by the Crafted Fitted Furniture & Kitchen Group, the Mallow based firm are one of Munster’s leading suppliers of bespoke fitted pieces for the home with a stellar reputation for quality and skill. Owner Paul O’Connor is an avid Rally competitor, and has shown over the past number of years his continued support to this North Cork based event.
A field of seventy-one cars will take to the first of six high-speed loose-surface stages at 10.58am on Sunday, knowing a full day and an exhilarating 59km competitive route lies ahead that has been hand-picked and organised to the highest level by COC Ger Hayes and his massive team of helpers. The first car to enter the stages will be in a Junior 1000 class car.
Based on a standard 1L road car and bolstered by a huge amount of safety equipment and an experienced navigator, the competitors in the J1000 class range from 14-18 years of age, and the series has given the future superstars of the Irish Rallying a first foray into special-stage competition.
While the action kicks off on the stages on Sunday, the previous afternoon and evening will see the town of Donoughmore come alive, with plenty of excitement as the rally machines and crews descend. DJD Transport have come on board to support the event, and their premises will host the pre-event scrutineering on Saturday.
With the Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally being the 4th round of the 2022 Motorsport Ireland Forest Rally Championship, the stars of this year’s campaign are all ready to lead the field away. Carrying number one on their door are Patrick O’Brien & Stephen O’Brien in a Skoda Fabia R5, the pair having already tasted victory this year in Carrick-on-Suir.
At number 2 is Cathan McCourt & Liam Moynihan in a Hyundai i20 R5, while current Championship leaders Jordan Hone & Paul Hone start next in their Ford Fiesta R5. In the 2WD section, Newry’s John Gordon & Ben Taggert start in a Ford Escort MK2, ahead of Shane McGirr & Denver Rafferty as well as Moonraker 2WD winners Mickey Conlon & Paul McPhillips.
While the action will be frantic out on the stages, the whole rallying world can tune in live to the latest breaking news as OnThePacenote are bringing their hugely popular Stage End Interviews to a gravel rally for the first time, and their live reports on Facebook gain hundreds of thousands of views over the course of a rally!
When all is said and done, the final job will be to crown a winner on Sunday evening, and the community of Donoughmore are excited for the big event. Taking place outside the Donoughmore Community Centre from 4.15pm onwards, the podium celebrations and spraying of Champagne (or Rose Water for the Junior competitors) will definitely be something special to see.